“ For the land which you go to possess is not like the land of Egypt from which you have come, where you sowed your seed and watered it by foot, as a vegetable garden; but the land which you cross over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water from the rain of heaven, a land for which the Lord your God cares; the eyes of the Lord your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year!”
Recently, I had the privilege of visiting Egypt. Since I had already seen Israel, I was always comparing both the countries. They both have their unique features. But Egypt tends to stand out as timeless! Some of the old structures are standing intact for more than 4000 years. It is indeed interesting to realize that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Mary (mother of Jesus) may have seen the same pyramids which I saw. The fertile landscape around the Nile area is indeed amazing. The topsoil near Nile is 40 to 50 feet deep! They could plant wheat and rice, twice or thrice a year. But if we move away 5 miles from the Nile, the ground is really a desert. It rains only 2 or 3 times a year, and it happened only when we were there! 80 percent of their food products come from the Nile area. 90 percent of the population live very close to Nile! We can see a clear dependence on the Nile river. There will not be much life in Egypt without the Nile river!
On the other hand, the land Israelites possessed, is a land of hills and valleys. It means that water may just run off quickly. The land drinks water from the rain of heaven purely, and not from any river (except fo Jordan, which is nothing but a small stream). The land must totally depend on the rain, and God had the complete control over it. The Israelites basically had to look up for their sustenance! It could be a bumper harvest, or a famine. The land of milk and honey forced the Israelites to total dependence on God. Prophets like Elijah were proving the point that God is the source of rain, and no one else.
But Egyptians were looking down constantly. They manipulated the irrigation system by opening and closing the Nile river water, and produced bumper harvest year after year. They did not have to rely on God for their blessings. They received their blessings because of their own strength, and smartness. It is very much possible that the Egyptians may have bigger earthly blessing than the Israelites. But unlike the Israelites, the Egyptians had to work very hard for their blessings.
There is a great spiritual lesson here. The land of Egypt represents the worldly blessings. The people of this world have it abundantly because of their skillful manipulation of various resources of this world. Everything is accumulated because of one’s talents, education, skills, and own brutal strength. As the wealth increases, the pride and arrogance increase also (Deut.8:11-18). Worldly blessings received through our own strength makes our heart haughty.
The land of Israel forces us to look up. Every perfect and good gift comes from above, and comes from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning (James 1:18). We may receive very little, or abundantly, yet we receive it with great joy because it comes from above. We are forced to be in constant communication with our Heavenly Father because our bread comes day by day like manna. “I will lift up my eyes to the hills – from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth…. (Read the whole psalm 121 in this context!) The whole Bible wants us to look up and trust Him more and more.
However we tend to look down more and more for the worldly blessings. What kind of blessings do you have? Is it from the heaven or from the world? Is it accumulated because of your own strength or did it come from above? Let us look up more, and allow the Lord to guide us. The eyes of the Lord will be always upon those who look up toward Him. Let us look up and walk as children of faith! Let us not be like Lot’s wife who looked toward the world and became a pillar of salt! Also, do not look at other people’s earthly blessings, and compare. You will never know if it came from heaven or from the earth. Let us “turn our eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace!” Look unto Jesus for your real blessings!
|Pastor's Column - Look up
by Rev. Daniel Israel