Land of milk and honey
Kehila News, Featured Blog by One For Israel Staff, June 22, 2019
“I promise that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Exodus 3:17)
God told Moses the plan and the glorious destination – a land flowing with milk and honey. But this plan was not newly-hatched. God had given Abraham the heads up a whole four centuries earlier, telling his friend that he could count on these things all coming to pass:
“Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” (Genesis 15:13-16)
God was not in a hurry. He graciously let the Canaanites continue in their sin until it reached its full measure before bringing judgement upon them in the form of the Israelites. God respects our wishes and freedom, including our freedom to sin, but he does have limits. Four hundred years of unbridled sin is a pretty long leash, but finally, in about 1400 BC, enough was enough. The Israelites marched right into Canaan’s land.
God delivers on his promises
Over those four hundred long years, the brothers of Joseph who had come from Israel to Egypt to avoid starving in the famine had become a nation, a couple of million strong.1 And, as it turned out, the journey back to the Promised Land turned out to be pretty long and winding… not to mention full of adventures. But all the while, they had this dream to hold onto – their assured destination – the land of milk, honey, and all good things.
“For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey.” (Deuteronomy 8:7-8)
The seven species listed above refer to date honey rather than honey from bees, but we know from other places in the Bible, such as Samson’s lion-and-honeycomb riddle (Judges 14:9) Jonathan breaking his father’s fast when they came across it in the woods (1 Samuel 14:29) – as well as John the Baptist’s unusual diet – that honey from the honeycomb was also plentiful in Israel.
God gives good gifts to his children. The specific phrase “land of milk and honey” crops up 22 times in the Bible in relation to the Promised Land – it’s a promise that God reiterated over and over. It was a promise they could count on.