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Israel, Egypt, Sinai - Unfinished Story

Certain locations on this globe hold perennial interest for lovers of Holy Scripture. Foremost among these is the land of Canaan (Israel) which God covenanted to Abraham and his descendants. This was the land selected by God for the accomplishment of His saving purpose for mankind. Here, according to promise, Abraham's Seed would "possess the gate of His enemies" and from thence all the families of the earth would be blessed (Gen. 22:17,18).

All happened in due course as planned in the divine counsels. The Son of God, Heir of all things, came into His own world by birth from a human mother. He grew to manhood in a Hebrew home, worked as a carpenter in a city of ill repute, and at the appointed time "entered on His life-work, approved by God Most High". With sandled feet He traversed the favoured land. And everywhere He went, from Mount Hermon in the north to the Judean lowlands in the south, He dispensed "love and healing mercy". In the humble dwellings of the common people, in market places and synagogues, m fields and in the Temple court the Son of God expressed in human speech the inmost thoughts of His eternal Father - "Never man so spake".

Yet in the land bequeathed by God to Abraham and his seed the rightful Heir to its throne suffered the bitterness of rejection. His own people were "offended in Him". Thus it was to be by the very nature of His mission which would not be completed until, on Golgotha's hill, His precious redeeming blood was poured out, and the triumphant cry, "It is finished", reached the throne of the Majesty on high. Then, mission accomplished, the mighty Conqueror rose from the dead and, taking leave of His apostles, ascended to heaven from the mount called Olivet. On that hallowed spot His wounded feet will alight once more when He returns as Son of Man to reign. Little wonder that the land of Israel, above all other localities on this earth, is dear to the hearts of Christians everywhere. During the last few decades, due to modern means of travel, the land has been opened up to thousands of tourists. Never before have so many had the privilege of visiting in person the actual sites graced by the Saviour's presence "in the days of His flesh".

Another location occupying an important place in the divine record of salvation is the land of Egypt which borders Israel to the south west. When Canaan was bequeathed to Abraham and his seed, God disclosed to the patriarch that before his descendants came into possession of their inheritance they would endure a period of bondage in a strange land (Gen. 15:13,14). In due course Abraham's grandson, Jacob, and all his kindred, went down to Egypt at God's bidding with the promise, "Fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation" (Gen. 46:3). There, in the iron furnace of affliction, Abraham's seed were fashioned for nationhood. The story of their liberation under Moses, the birth of the nation amid the thunders of Mount Sinai, and of the trek across the great and terrible wilderness to the land of promise, is an epic in Bible history which has undertones in recent events.

As is well known the Sinai desert was occupied by Israeli forces during the six-day war in 1967. In our June issue we commented on the Israel-Egypt peace treaty ratified in April last. Under its terms the entire Sinai region will be handed back to Egypt within three years.

A friend has kindly sent to us the recent issue of Israel Digest, a Zionist biweekly published in Jerusalem. Its editorial and main feature articles are devoted to a review of the Sinai desert and its future. There are some hitherto unpublished photographs of the area including one in colour taken from the summit of Mount Sinai. One is impressed with the awesomeness of the scene. The Bible picture of Moses toiling up its slopes until hidden by the cloud which enveloped its summit comes to mind. The mountain can't speak but it is a witness in majestic splendour to the memorable events which took place there, including the breaking of the two tables of stone graven with the writing of God which the great Lawgiver cast down at the foot of the mount.

During the twelve years occupation of the area Israeli settlers with characteristic industry and ingenuity have combined to make the desert bloom. When the time comes to hand over many of them will do so with heavy hearts. But history marches on to add another chapter to an unfinished story.