Let’s go down to Egypt!

The Hand on the tiller!

Egypt the land on the Nile with it’s most ancient recorded history, goes back for six millennium. In the world at large it is commonly known as the land of the Pyramids, the Sphinx and the Pharaohs, and who has not heard of the famous boy King Tutankhamen! It’s also the land of Temples and Museums with ancient artefacts, the land of desert (96% of Egypt), and borders the beautiful Red Sea, the Suez Canal, and the amazing Aswan High Dam, and so we could go on ….. !

Geographically the land devides into two main areas, The Northern Nile Delta and Southern Upper Egypt which follows the Nile from ancient Memphis all the way to the Aswan High dam and beyond!

During my working life we once had a flight stopover in Cairo, and took the opportunity to have a brief tour of the city and also a visit to the Pyramids and Sphinx at Giza, which could only be described as spectacular! After retirement we followed a documentary series on TV about ancient Egypt, which inspired us to make another visit to this ancient nation. So in the month of March we joined a Christian Tour Group for a visit to Upper Egypt, by following the Nile from Luxor to Aswan.

Recently in my reading and conversation the subject of Egypt was brought again to the ‘fore of my thinking, so it was back to the archives for all these notes and photographs! Of necessity the decription of the journey will be brief, but every picture tells a story, so I’m sure you will catch the wonder of it.

After leaving Luxor in our ‘river boat’ we passed through the locks at Esna, and made our first stop at Edfu to visit the Temple to the god Horus. It was built sometime between 237 and 57 BC and is one of the best preserved temples in Egypt. The ‘Hawks of Horus’ guard the gate, and the walls are covered with various reliefs depicting religious and mythological events.

Sailing on the Nile is a very relaxing way to spend a holiday, especially with good company and conversation, and with some excellent guides. We certainly caught a glimpse into Egypt’s ancient past as we explored some extraordinary sites all along the river bank.

Soon we moved on to Aswan where we enjoyed a trip to the market, a sail on a felucca, plus a visit to the dam and botanic garden, whilst staying in the Pyramisa Isis Island Hotel.

On the return journey to Luxor by coach we caught some great views of the Nile from a shore persective and of rural life, before visiting the famous temple of Luxor, (1400 BC) which is not dedicated to any god, but was perhaps the place many of the Pharoahs were crowned. Also Karnak, which goes back even further in time to 2000-1700 BC, during which period it has been estimated that approximateely 30 Pharaohs contriubuted to its building.

On our penultimate day we were at ‘the Valley of the Kings, the Temple of Queen Hatchepsut, the Colossi of Memnon and an Alabaster workshop.

A day to relax by the Nile before going home!

Reflection: Much has been written about ancient Egypt and its thirty one Dynasties spanning four millenium BC, and its millenia since, so a one week tour is barely scratching the surface. However as you look back you can see that Egypt in many ways typifies the rise and fall of empires and nations, sometimes for good and at other times for bad. Even in our own lifetime, we have witnessed the demise of the once mighty British Empire, the end of colonialism, the collapse of the mighty USSR, the destruction of the Third Reich and its vision of a thousand year reign, and Japanese Imperialism, to mention but a few. Now there are new kids on the block, all with visions of power and greatness, and many vying to be the new ‘top dog’. Recently Ken McCallum of MI5 is reported to have said that the UK is in a struggle to protect its way of life, as China and Russia are waging an all-encompassing contest for international supremacy! And while I write this, Russia is in the process of invading Ukraine. So the world’s power shifts between nations continues unabated, but it seems the heart of man is singularly unchanged, as they vie for position of ultimate power and authority, internationally, nationally and often we have seen it in our own working lives and in our hearts.

Our Christian Group were very much interested to learn where and when the Bible characters of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph fitted into all this history, and also to reflect on the fact that Jesus and his parents were in the early years of Jesus’ life refugees in this land. Matthew in his Gospel recalls the words of Hosea the phophet who approximately 750 years before Jesus’ birth said, ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.‘ Another fascinating study is to compare the similarities between the life of Joseph and his stay in Egypt as recorded in Genesis, the first book of the Bible, and the life of Jesus, God’s beloved son.

Abraham came to Egypt because of famine early in the 2nd millennium and during Egypt’s 12th dynasty. (See Genisis 12) It was to this Abraham that God made a promise of land and nationhood, and that through his seed all nations of the earth would be blessed. These promises of God we see fulfilled in our world today. Jesus of the seed of Abraham, came to our world to the sound of angels singing ‘Peace on earth, goodwill towards men‘, and died to the shouts of the mob ringing in His ears WE WILL NOT HAVE THIS MAN TO REIGN OVER US’! So there we go again.

God had different ideas, He raised Him from the dead, exalted Him to His right hand and appointed Him to be King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Jesus is in fact the God-man with His hand on the tiller. And the Bible says that there is a day of judgment coming, and guess what? the judge has already been appointed – “In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.” Acts 17.30,31

It seems good to me to make peace with God now a priority while the offer is still on the table. That peace I’ve found through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5.1. It’s a peace open to all who come in repentence and faith.

I hope you enjoyed the trip and are prepared for that final one we all must take!

God bless – Matthew