Sunday, June 26, 2016

Egypt: Mount Sinai

From Cairo, CCF's five buses drove in convoy for almost seven hours to Saint Catherine located at South Sinai, Egypt. For hours all you can see from the bus window is the same barren and dusty land in different formation of rocks and sand. Yes it's amazing to see different patterns of rocks maybe if you are a tourist but staying in these place is way beyond the view, for others like Bedouin tribes(nomadic Arab of the desert) it is their everyday life. And somehow I wonder what are their struggles to live in a place with inadequate water supply and where there is almost no sign of green.

View outside the bus
Rocky blind spot
Finally we reached Morgenland around 6pm for an overnight stay. The hotel was interesting as it's a resort in the middle of desert surrounded by rocky mountains.

Morgenland pool side

We took a short nap(or I imagined I did) after dinner and at 11.30am we got our wake up call in preparation for the mountain hike in Mount Sinai. The Bible tells us that God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses at the top of Mount Sinai when he was 80 years old.

When He had finished speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God. -- Exodus 31:18


We started the ascend at 1 am, yes that was 1 am no typo errors here and we couldn't believe it ourselves. While others are sleeping soundly, we are in the middle of nowhere attempting to trek a 7500 feet or 2285 meter high mountain at 1 am in total darkness. I almost slept in between stop overs, only to be awaken that I was actually hiking. Using flashlights to guide our ways as it is still dark outside, we don't have any idea what and where we are exactly walking. We literally go with the flow.

Halfway through the hike, I could not imagine Moses was eighty years old when he hiked and met God exactly in this mountain. He must be one tough old man. He became my instant encouragement, every time I feel that my feet is dying and wants to give up, I remind myself that Moses was 80 when he did what I am doing, I don't have any excuse not to finish this. Starting from the Monastery at the bottom of the mountain, it took us 3 to 4 hours to make the ascend.



At the break of dawn, the sky started to guide us through the 750 spike steps all the way to the summit. Now we have a better glimpse of where we are exactly and how stunning the view of the mountain sides are.






The view from the top(almost) of the mountain is breathtaking. I may not fully understand why God asked Moses, who is in his eighties to go through the physical strive of hiking this rocky mountain, but one thing I know God is a great Creator. He was and is indeed amazing in all His creation and I felt grateful to be able to witness this at that very moment.

Smile amidst exhaustion :D
This cat also worked his way up to the mountain :)
Bedouin guide
Walls made of rocks


Rocky mountain
Kytin and me
We started the descend around 4:30am and this time we can now enjoy the fascinating view of the mountainous terrain of rocks in all forms, shapes and sizes. But looking at the rocky terrain, we also realize the risks of our mountain hike adventure, you could not afford to make a wrong step otherwise you will not only see Mount Sinai you will also meet Moses(as we were joking). Thanked God not only for providing us the strength but also for the protection of everyone especially the older participants.

Pastor Peter and his trekking pole. I thought I saw Moses :D
We're going down down down
Red mountain
Literally high way :D
Convoy of camels on descend
Finally reached plaza!

Mt. Sinai: The Site of Important Biblical Events
(Excerpts from a post in http://www.biblearchaeology.org/)

Mt. Sinai occupies an important place in human history, as well as in the history of God’s people. Most significantly, it was the place where God appeared in person to Moses and gave him the law. Earlier, at the end of Moses’ 40-year exile in Midian, God appeared to him in a burning bush at the base of the Mountain of God and called him to return to Egypt to lead the Israelites to freedom (Ex 3:1–4:17). When the Israelites first arrived at Mt. Sinai, Moses struck a rock at Horeb to provide water for the multitude (Ex 17:6). They then spent 11 months at the holy mountain before breaking camp and moving on to Kadesh Barnea.

Shortly after arriving at Mt. Sinai, Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, visited Moses and advised him on how to govern the people (Ex 18). Moses then ascended the mountain and received the law from God, as well as instructions for constructing the Tabernacle (Ex 19–31). This was followed by the sin of the golden calf and its aftermath (Ex 32–34). Skilled craftsmen among the Israelites constructed the Tabernacle and its furnishings under Moses’ supervision (Ex 35–40). The first Passover was celebrated exactly one year after leaving Egypt (Nm 9:1). Before departing, more laws were given (Lv 1–27) and a census was taken (Nm 1–10).

When the Israelites left Mt. Sinai, God’s presence went with them and the mountain no longer was a significant religious center. Mt. Sinai appeared in recorded Biblical history only one more time. Nearly six centuries after the Israelites were at Mt. Sinai, Elijah fled to “Horeb, the mountain of God” to escape the wrath of Queen Jezebel following his encounter with the priests of Baal at Mt. Carmel (1 Kgs 19:1–21). All told, some 63 chapters of the Old Testament are devoted to events that took place at Mt. Sinai. This amounts to 14 percent of the 436 historical narrative chapters from Genesis to Esther. After Elijah’s visit, Mt. Sinai dropped out of Biblical history, and its location faded from the remembrance of God’s people.

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