Cairo – Jesus’ Flight to Egypt & God’s Unusual Leading

How to Take Comfort about Your Unsure Future

God seldom gives us all we need in order to understand—but He always what we need in order to obey. Jesus’ flight to Egypt as a boy offers a great example of how to take comfort when the future seems unclear.

Cairo - Jesus' Flight to Egypt and God’s Unusual Leading

(Photo: Giza pyramids. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

God warned Joseph in a dream, and he took Mary and Jesus to Egypt to live until Herod’s death. Scripture never tells us where the holy family lived while in Egypt. But there’s a cluster of churches in Cairo that honors a tradition that they journeyed here.

The Lord’s unusual leading of Jesus’ family offers insight to how God leads in our lives.

Click to continue reading »

Pyramids of Giza – Astonishing Monuments and Painful Hopes

Those Moments When Egypt Sounds Better than the Promised Land

When we picture ancient Egypt, we think of deserts, camels, the Nile River, and hieroglyphics. But there’s nothing more iconic of Egypt than the Pyramids of Giza.

Giza Pyramids

(Photo: Giza Pyramids. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

They’re the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still standing, and the pyramids predate them all. In fact, there were already standing for centuries before even Abraham journeyed to Egypt in 2000 BC. They were more than a thousand years old when the Exodus occurred.

The age and location of these pyramids are such that it’s very likely many of our biblical heroes saw them— people like, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, the prophet Jeremiah—and even Jesus, Joseph and Mary. Egypt was a place of escape and seclusion for many of them, but that wasn’t always a good thing.

For God’s people, Egypt was often an easy out— a way to keep from trusting God when life got tough.

Turns out, Egypt isn’t just in North Africa. It’s in our lives too.

Click to continue reading »

Jesus Shows Us Why Our Little Lives Matter So Much

Sepphoris Offers a Great Reminder When We Feel Insignificant

Often the mundane days of our lives tell us lies. They seem to shout how insignificant we are, because all we do seems so small. Jesus’ childhood days in Galilee, near Sepphoris, turn those lies upside down.

Jesus Shows Us Why Our Little Lives Matter So Much

(Photo: Sepphoris and Bet Netofa Valley. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

When Jesus, Joseph, and Mary left Egypt after Herod the Great’s death around 4 BC, they settled back in Nazareth, in Herod Antipas’s territory of Galilee. Antipas set about rebuilding the capital city of Sepphoris, and he hired local artisans as laborers.

The gospels refer both to Joseph and Jesus as “carpenters,” from the Greek word, tekton, a worker of wood and stone. Since this was the same time that Jesus’ family returned to Nazareth, it’s very possible that Joseph (and eventually Jesus) would have worked to build Sepphoris, since Nazareth was only about 4 miles from Sepphoris—an hour’s walk.

But even if Jesus did have a hand in helping to build this beautiful city, still—doesn’t it seem a huge waste of His gifts?

The answer to that question speaks volumes to our own lives.

Click to continue reading »

How to Strengthen Yourself in the Lord

Ziklag Reveals the Secret to David’s Spiritual Success

Sometimes a disappointing setback in our lives only serves to propel us forward in God’s sovereign plan. In the meantime, we need God’s help to keep going. David’s days at Ziklag show us how.

Ziklag - How to Strengthen Yourself in the Lord

(Photo: Ziklag, Tel Sera. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Just when things couldn’t have gotten worse for David, they did. Much worse! King Saul’s jealousy over David’s popularity eventually branded David a fugitive and kept him on the run from Saul for years.

In desperate moments, we need to strengthen ourselves in the Lord.

Click to continue reading »

3 Powerful Truths to Know When God Delays

Taking small steps from Egypt to Sinai to the Promised Land

God’s program to give the Promised Land to Abraham and his descendants took some strange turns. For instance? A famine upon the land, Joseph’s imprisonment, and bondage in Egypt. Hardly a joyful journey with God.

3 Powerful Truths to Know When God Delays

(Photo: Great pyramids of Egypt. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

But God’s deliverance of His people from slavery in Egypt, and His gracious provision along the way, served to motivate gratitude in them “so that they might keep His statutes” (Psalm 105:45).

Our painful journey with God offers a hidden blessing.

Click to continue reading »

Beth Shean—When God’s Blessings Seem Too Hard to Hold

What to do when they seem to slip from your grip.

Sometimes the blessings God gives you seem hard to hold. In some cases, the difficulty urges us to abandon the blessings. Beth Shean gives us a great example.

Beth Shean excavations

(Photo: Beth Shean excavations. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The Lord provided Beth Shean for the Tribe of Manasseh. But the excellent location proved to be a double-edged sword. Because the spot was so good, every nation wanted control of Beth Shean. And whoever held it always seemed to contend with those who would wrench it from their grasp.

Perhaps its strategic location gave Beth Shean its name, “House of Security.”

But security only works when you trust in God.

Click to continue reading »

Hezekiah’s Tunnel and Wall Give a Lesson from Archaeology

Scripture is supported by what we can dig out of the ground.

The ancient world had a bully system that worked in straightforward terms. A nation would conquer a region and demand tribute—annual payment of money and goods. If you didn’t pay tribute, they’d come and kill you. Pretty simple system.

Hezekiah's Tunnel

(Photo: Hezekiah’s Tunnel. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

King Hezekiah refused to pay tribute to the bully. So the Assyrians invaded Judah.

Archaeology has unearthed treasures that reveal Hezekiah’s faith in God. How does it strengthen your faith to see the Bible in archaeology?

Click to continue reading »

The Promised Land and God’s Amazing Provision for Your Life

If God will provide, why do our means seem so meager?

The tension is nothing new for us who believe in God. It’s just that most days it seems we never have enough. Between the bills, the home upkeep, and the car repairs, it’s tough just to stay afloat. Often, amazingly, God rigs it this way.

In fact, an unusual custom gives insight into why our means seem so meager.

If God Will Provide, Why Are My Means So Meager?

(Photo: Wheat field near Bet Guvrin, Israel. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

After settling in the Promised Land, God allowed His people to work the land. But every seventh year, God said, “the land shall have a sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord” (Lev. 25:4) and lie fallow.

  • This Sabbatical Year allowed for the forgiveness of all debts, and any food that grew went to the poor and to the wild animals.
  • Then every 50 years, on the year of Jubilee, the land not only rested but also returned to its ancestral owners. And all slaves walked free.
  • However, in 586 B.C., after God’s people failed to observe the Sabbatical Year for 490 years, God exiled them for the 70 special years they failed to give the land (2 Chron. 36:20-21).

All this was to show that the Promised Land belonged to God, not to those who lived on it (Lev. 25:23). Although they worked the land, they believed God will provide, and He made them stop working to prove He would.

For even when they rested, God supplied (Ps. 127:2).

Here’s why the same is true for us.

Click to continue reading »

The Harod Valley – Your Overwhelming Anxiety Finds its Peace

Truths as enduring as the beautiful settings in which they occurred.

Have you noticed how history repeats itself in our lives? We think we’ve learned to deal with overwhelming anxiety, but each new day offers a new challenge we never would have expected.

The Harod Valley—Your Overwhelming Anxiety Finds its Peace

(Photo: The Harod Valley. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

In ancient Israel, the Harod Valley gave stage to two sets of desperate situations. From threats to insecurities to death and hopelessness, in every case the overwhelming anxiety found its peace only one way.

It’s the same with your overwhelming anxiety today.

Click to continue reading »

The Surprising Secret to Greatness We Need to Discover

What the original team of rivals can teach us about true greatness.

God never promised us the Christian life would shield us from the temptation of popularity, greatness, or admiration. In fact, don’t we often toy with getting what we want out of life just like the world does?

The Surprising Secret to Greatness We Need to Discover

(Photo: The road up to Jerusalem from Jericho. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

On His way up to Jerusalem for the last time, Jesus once told His followers that greatness is a fine goal to pursue. In fact, He applauded it.

As long as we understand what true greatness is.

Click to continue reading »