The lands of Egypt, Jordan and Israel was part of the Exodus Tour we went on May of this year. It’s fascinating to see evidence of Egypt and Israel being interconnected so many thousand years ago. From a tiny nomadic tribe that became a nation when they made the great exodus from Egypt to the conflicted nation that still stands today. It’s amazing to consider that while great empires like that of the ancient Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans and Ottomans have each taken their turn in holding the Israelites in some form of bondage or another…they have nearly all ceased to be the nations they once were. Even though Israel seemed to be wiped off the earth at one point, it miraculously became a nation again. How has such a tiny people group managed to survive? Is it advanced technology? Cunningly masterminded battle strategies? An infallible 5000 year plan on how to survive exile and assimilation attempts by conquering nations? All the answers are “no”.
Psalm 44 provides some answers.
With Your hand you drove out the nations and planted our ancestors; You crushed the peoples and made our ancestors flourish. It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory; it was Your right hand, Your arm, and the light of Your face, for You loved them.
I put no trust in my bow, my sword does not bring me victory; but You give us victory over our enemies, You put our adversaries to shame.
We’ve seen these verses play out in Jewish history as well:
You gave us up to be devoured like sheep and have scattered us among the nations. You have made us a reproach to our neighbors, the scorn and derision of those around us. You have made us a byword among the nations; the peoples shake their heads at us. I live in disgrace all day long, and my face is covered with shameat the taunts of those who reproach and revile me, because of the enemy, who is bent on revenge.
It was God who sustained them through millenia. Because He promised He would. And for His name’s sake alone He upholds His promise. Even when the Israelites lived in rebellion, worshipping other gods, rejecting God’s prophets and even God’s own Son, bringing God’s hand of wrath and judgement on them, God still kept His promise and sustained them. Such incredible mercy and grace.
But the lesson from Psalm 44 is for me to learn…that any kind of “greatness” I might seem to achieve is by God’s hand alone and not by my “intelligent” schemes or plans. I boast only in God. And by the same token, anything taken away from me (well, it was never mine to begin with) is out of love and discipline. With the purpose of restoring me into a right relationship with God.
To give me humble view of who I am. And the right view of who God is.