I remember well my trip to Egypt. I was on my way to VBCI in Thailand. My family and I all decided to visit Germany and Holland that summer as well. The time between our Germany trip ending and the time I needed to be in Thailand was about four weeks. So, I decided not to fly back to Canada, but visit a place that I wanted to go most of my life–Egypt.
I never travelled alone internationally before that, so it was quite intimidating to be in a crazy city like Cairo by myself. I booked myself onto a thirteen day tour of the whole country, but I had a couple of days alone in Cairo before the tour started.
To save money I decided to stay in a hostel. I already made a reservation for the hostel back in Canada over the internet. The website gave me the impression that the hostel would be full of western travelers. I was relieved at this because then I would have some people to talk to, and ask questions if I didn’t know what to do. The website was very misleading. The hostel was full of Arab business men. The receptionist at the front desk looked at my confirmation receipt (which I printed off from the website when I booked my room) with a “What the hell is this??” look. There was no computer at the front desk, so that mean’t they didn’t get my booking via the internet. The hostel was in a very rough part of the city, and as I walked the streets everyone was looking at me very strangely–like “Are you sure you’re in the right place?”.
Anyways, I got my room and everything turned out just fine. Looking back I wish I was as comfortable as I am now travelling internationally–I would have spent much more time in the streets engaging the locals, who were all very friendly.
As the tour got started I moved over to a much nicer hotel. It was part of the tour package. I knew the pyramids were very close to Cairo, but I didn’t know how close, and up till this point I hadn’t even caught a glimpse of them anywhere while driving through the city to the new hotel.
After I checked in I met with the tour guide. He said the rest of the day was free. My bellboy took me up to the large, and well kept room. The curtains over the wall-sized window were closed. The bellboy set down my bags, and went over to the window, then very dramatically swung open the curtains. And there, right before my eyes, stood the pyramids, in all their glory. It was very awesome. I spent the rest of that day staring at the pyramids, and swimming in the hotel pool. The tour was a great time.
I’ve noticed something interesting when talking to Christians about the pyramids. They all think that, because the Jews were slaves in Egypt, that it must have been the Jews who built the pyramids, because surely only God’s chosen people could build something so big and amazing. After I described the size of the pyramids to one person they immediately said, “The Jews so built the pyramids!”, as though no one else could have possibly done it. But this is a misconception by Christians–both in a historical sense and a theological sense.
Firstly, the pyramids were built around 2584 BC. Abraham was born somewhere between 2166 to 2000 BC. So this means that the pyramids were at least 400 years old by the time Abraham was born. The Exodus of Israel out of Egypt took place somewhere between 1446-1280 BC. This means that the pyramids were already at least 1100 years old when Israel left Egypt. So we know historically that the Jews did not build the pyramids.
Secondly, we know that the Jews were not a special group of people in and of themselves. They were worthless slaves. They were not wealthy. They were not educated. They were not desirable. They were not exceptionally skilled. They did all the work that the paid Egyptians didn’t want to do, such as making mud bricks (Exodus 5:7-18). The wonderful carvings you’ll see on the walls of Egyptian temples were done by skilled Egyptian workers, who were paid for what they did. God Himself makes it clear that He didn’t choose the Jews because they were some wonderful, talented group of people…
“For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
“Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments…”
~ Deuteronomy 7:6-9
“Do not think in your heart, after the Lord your God has cast them out before you, saying, ‘Because of my righteousness the Lord has brought me in to possess this land’; but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is driving them out from before you. It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you go in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God drives them out from before you, and that He may fulfill the word which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Therefore understand that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stiff-necked people.
“Remember! Do not forget how you provoked the Lord your God to wrath in the wilderness. From the day that you departed from the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the Lord. Also in Horeb you provoked the Lord to wrath, so that the Lord was angry enough with you to have destroyed you. When I went up into the mountain to receive the tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant which the Lord made with you, then I stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights. I neither ate bread nor drank water.”
“Thus I prostrated myself before the Lord; forty days and forty nights I kept prostrating myself, because the Lord had said He would destroy you. Therefore I prayed to the Lord, and said: ‘O Lord God, do not destroy Your people and Your inheritance whom You have redeemed through Your greatness, whom You have brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand. Remember Your servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; do not look on the stubbornness of this people, or on their wickedness or their sin, lest the land from which You brought us should say, “Because the Lord was not able to bring them to the land which He promised them, and because He hated them, He has brought them out to kill them in the wilderness.” Yet they are Your people and Your inheritance, whom You brought out by Your mighty power and by Your outstretched arm.'”
~ Deuteronomy 9:4-9; 25-29
“He is dirtier than vines or pigs from treading under his mud. His clothes are stiff with clay…He is miserable…His sides ache…His arms are destroyed. He washes himself only once a season. He is simply wretched through and through.”
~ “Satire on the Trades” (Egyptian poem describing the slave brick maker)
If God were going to choose a group of people for their abilities He would have went with the Chinese, or the Egyptians themselves. I see two reasons why God chose the Jewish people. First, because He made a promise to Abraham. Second, because God loves to use the weak things of this world to show His power and glory. That is one of the main themes of the Bible–God using the least likely to accomplish His plans.
Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”
~1 Corinthians 1:25-31
So let’s remember, the Jews did not build the pyramids…and God does not call us according to our abilities. God calls us according to His own ability to work through us despite our many faults. Our job is to believe and obey–and when we do that, God draws out our true abilities.
Here are some other photos from my Egypt trip. Unfortunately the computer with all the original photos died, and the back up disk with the photo files was lost :(. But, I did upload some of my favorites on facebook before that happened.