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Thursday, 18 October 2012

Watch this space!

As has often been pointed out, one of the wonderful things about the written Word of God - the Bible - is that however often one reads it, there is always something new to notice or discover.  This was, once more, my personal experience during my private devotions this morning.  One of the passages that I was reading was Joshua 1:1-9.  As I read those familiar words - words that I have read countless times before - I was suddenly struck by v.4.  "From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphra'tes, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory." (RSV)

In those words, YHWH is stating the boundaries of the land which He had promised to His chosen people to be their possession for ever!  The southern boundary was to be the Negev; the northern boundary was to be Lebanon; the western boundary was to be the Mediterranean Sea.  So far, so good.  However, it was that eastern boundary that had me reaching for my Bible Atlas.  Then I reached for a modern atlas.  I compared the two.  There could be no doubt about it.  The eastern boundary -  the River Euphrates - was a long way from the border of the modern State of Israel!  Indeed, if one were to draw those Biblical boundaries on to a modern map, then the land promised to the Children of Israel encompasses a large swathe of modern Syria, and a large swathe of modern Iraq!  This is an area that has not been possessed by the Israelites since the time of King Solomon - and I will have to do some further research to discover if, even during his reign, all of it was under Israel's control!

Of course, given the situation in both Syria and Iraq today, it is unthinkable that Israel, under such conditions, should ever control such a vast area!  However, it was unthinkable that the Berlin Wall would be torn down; it was unthinkable that Saddam Hussein would be toppled; it was unthinkable that Hosni Mubarak would be overthrown!

There is an old adage that reminds us that "Man proposes, but God disposes".  What that is saying is that men (and women, of course) may make their plans - but it is God's will that prevails.  As the hymn-writer states; "God is working His purpose out, as year succeedeth year"! (Basil Harwood).

Will Israel again control the whole of the promised land?  Watch this space?!

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