Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Israel: The "Land Bridge" at the Center

Now the LORD said to Abram, 'Go forth from your country... to the land which I will show you' (Gen 12:1).

"From Dan to Beersheba" (e.g., Judges 20:1; 1 Sam 3:20) is a land of admittedly small significance in terms of its size, natural resources, and even its inhabitants from ancient times up to the present-day. A very unlikely place for the Holy Land. Yet, as we posted yesterday, Scripture testifies that it lies at the very center of humanity and the world.

Barry Beitzel, in his superb Moody Atlas of Bible Lands, comments on the counter-intuitive prominence of the Promised Land:
At first blush, therefore, this stretch of geography would seem to be an unlikely candidate to become the center stage for a divine drama that would eventually affect all of humanity.

Upon closer examination, however, one discovers that this land mass is poised in an amazingly strategic position. Actually the Promised Land represents the only intercontinental land bridge that connects Africa with Asia and Europe, and that links the Indian Ocean, via the Red Sea, with the Atlantic Ocean, through the corridor of the Mediterranean. Since high antiquity, mighty powers with international political and economic aspirations have been positioned at either end of the bridge. What happened in Palestine was almost always a reflection of what was occurring or had just occurred in one of Israel's neighboring countries. It was on this land bridge that east met west (pp. 25-26).
Why did our God select this land as the stage for His redeeming purposes? It is at the intersection of humanity; a land bridge connecting society to society and - by His sovereign design - reconnecting men to their God.

NB: You cannot do much better than Beitzel's Atlas. We have found it a trustworthy companion in study, as well as travel to Israel itself.

And, even better, Beitzel gave it a full revision and update two years ago as The New Moody Atlas of Bible Lands. You can read reviews of this new edition by Todd Bolen (biblical geography scholar) and Kevin DeYoung (pastor).


  1. We are studying this area in my Classical Humanities class and I kept thinking, "what a horrible, hot, desolate strip of land for civilization to spring from." But, it is truly amazing how perfect that area is in terms of humanity spread across the world.

    Also I have a bunch of questions to ask you that have sprung up from my introduction to this class (humanism gah!!), could you give me your email so you can answer them whenever you get a free moment. Thanks Steve!

  2. Yes, "almost" like it was designed for that position, right?

    It would be best to find my e-mail on my card or by contacting the office. Thanks!