“For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs:
“But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven.” – Deuteronomy 11:10, 11
“We want a decent country to live in” would express the desires and ideals of a great many people; but perhaps we should not be very far wrong if we affirmed that most of these people have little idea of how they are going to get it or even of what they mean by it. They may have in mind economic security, a good job with good pay, or they may want a world in which they will be free from troubles and from interference with their own lives, and free from war.
In our text two countries are contrasted. They are strikingly different. Egypt is a flat country, fertile, with an even climate. It has no precious metals and little variety in fruits and animals. It receives no rain from heaven, its fruitfulness depending upon the inundations of its great river, the Nile. In Bible times its people worshiped the calf. Palestine, on the other hand, is a land of hills and valleys, with a complex climate ranging from intense heat at Jericho 1300 feet below sea level to the wintry snows of Mount Hermon 10,000 feet above the sea level. It produces a variety of summer and winter fruits and vegetables, of the precious metals and stones, and is made fertile by rain, by brooks and rivers and the melting snows: “a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills… a land where thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack anything in it.”
The Egyptian ideal was that of external comfort and wealth. Israel prospered there under Joseph and did not wish to return to the Holy Land. But their long-continued life there resulted in bondage, and Moses was raised up to lead them out. The words “Out of Egypt have I called my son” express a great blessing. Abraham went down into Egypt and became rich in flocks. Our Lord was carried down into Egypt and there found protection from Herod. Egypt could both shelter and enslave. She could nourish, she could teach, and yet her wealth and knowledge could never wholly satisfy. And this is the reason given in the Word itself: “Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit.” Therein is its limitation. Man has higher possibilities than the merely natural.