Milk, Honey and Remembering How Much God Values YOU!

Wheat crop in Isra'el.

Wheat crop in Isra’el.

I don’t know if it’s because we have seen movies and illustrations of Biblical events which are set in the desert, but it’s easy to view Isra’el as a barren place. I have also heard it described as useless and insignificant in Bible Studies. We’re more familiar with the Judean desert than we are with the beautiful areas along the Mediterranean coastline, the snow covered Mount Hermon and the lush areas around Galilee and the Jordan River.

Isra’el hasn’t always been bordered by as much desert as exists now. God promised from the time of Abraham, that He would give His people a land flowing with milk and honey. Even now, with the use of hydroponics and smart water usage, the desert blooms and Isra’el has bountiful produce, as the Lord has always intended for His people. He bought them back to the land, as promised and it’s not completely desolate. In my local grocery store here in Australia, I can buy products such as couscous, which were made in Isra’el. Yet I can guarantee, the next Biblical movie will have a desert set. Why do we think God would ‘bless’ His children with an all but useless pile of sand?

“Milk and honey” obviously denotes a land which can sustain a growing population. Until recently, I didn’t realise just how much blessing the Lord had set up for the young nation of Isra’el once she left Egypt. Milk and honey is just the start. When you look into the commands that the Lord gave to Moses, concerning Isra’el, they are incredibly generous, and exalted God’s people to a status which was the complete opposite to that which they had, had as slaves. This was not a land of stale bread and dirty water.

Tekhelet“For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.” Deuteronomy 8:7-10

Firstly, in Numbers 15:38, the Isra’elites were told to add tassels to their garments which were died a specific blue, which is called tekhelet. This must have been an astonishing command, as these ex-slaves were being ordered by their God to adorn themselves with an incredibly expensive product which was so costly, it was only worn by royalty and the highest ranking noblemen. It comes from a sea creature called the Chillazon, and it takes many of these creatures to produce enough dye to make one thread blue.

This command of the Lord reinforced the value that God’s people had in His eyes. They were to be a royal priesthood, that served and thrived under Him. Instead of living the arduous, miserable life of a slave, they were valued, provided for and adored. [Exodus 19:6 and 1 Peter 2:9]

So why would you give people, who you love, a desert? God didn’t. Isra’el in the time of Moses and then David, was in a fertile crescent which had excellent rainfall. This is why the land was fought over by so many nations: it had sea access, lucrative trade routes and was bountiful. God’s children were given the very best. Land that could sustain cattle (milk), obviously had good grazing and enough room for sheep, goats and all the animals which required good quality pasture.

That rich pasture would also provide the needs of the honey bees, another indulgent luxury which speaks of the good life. As milk provides health to the bones, honey helps feed a joyful spirit, plus it has antibacterial qualities and is brilliant for treating wounds and infections. This speaks of God not only giving His children an indulgent treat, but His meeting their medical needs in a practical manner.

Like the children of Isra’el, we too have been delivered from being slaves to sin. “Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.” Romans 6:18 Yet, it is too easy to think of our lives in the same way we see Isra’el: as a battle scarred, desolate land which is hard to live in. There is a modern Christian movement which has taken on wearing Old Testament tekhelet tassels as God commanded, and they do this to remind themselves to obey God, but for them, it is also a beautiful reminder that they too are God’s chosen people and have the status of princes and princesses within the Kingdom of the Lord.

It’s not necessary to wear a tassel to know how much you mean to the Lord, but an understanding of the Old Testament and what the nation of Isra’el meant to God helps us enormously to understand just how loved we are. We are all grafted into the same vine, so what applies to the Jewish people, applies to us equally.

“Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” Romans 5:2-5

IMG_0097“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs.” Romans 8:14-17a

So next time you feel miserable and inclined to believe that life is bleak and that God will never come through for you because you’re not important to Him, remember the land of milk and honey. We are all meant to know that we are loved, greatly valued and are going to be provided for. It may take some time for God’s provision to come through, but if you hold fast to Him, He’ll always be there for you.

“Your eternal Word, O LORD,
stands firm in heaven.
Your faithfulness extends to every generation,
as enduring as the earth You created.
Your regulations remain true to this day,
for everything serves Your plans.
If Your instructions hadn’t sustained me with joy,
I would have died in my misery.
I will never forget Your commandments,
for by them You give me life.” Psalm 119:89-93

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

The images of Isra’el in this post have come from Wikimedia Commons and are CC4.0.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.


Biblical Celebrity: the Hazard of Fame Based Thinking

celebrityA year ago, if you had asked me what I will say to King David when I meet him face to face, I would have had trouble finding an answer. I expected to be really nervous! It’s because he’s so famous. He’s a King and he’s… well, he’s David. I also have no idea what I am going to say to Jonathan, or Moses, or Esther, or Paul… and I kind of want to hide from the prophets, because I feel so inadequate beside them. Can you relate to that?

My instinctive reaction prods me into assessing about how much the worldly values of celebrity culture have crept into how I perceive Biblical heroes. The sad answer is, the secular image of fame has influenced my thinking far too much. Celebrity fills a spiritual void in the secular world. It gives lost people aspirational role models, regardless of whether they are saints or sinners. Who doesn’t want to be comfortably wealthy, good looking, healthy, happily married and successful? In moderation, I could take it.

For that matter, as Christians, who doesn’t want to be like David? Don’t we want to slay giants, rule nations and live a spiritually successful life? Of course we do! I own kosher salt with David’s name on it, and many secular and Christian movies and books have been written, using David as a symbol of success. God did promise David fame, but it has gotten way out of hand. [Ref. 2 Samuel 7:9] As with secular celebrities, we get caught up in all the glamour, excitement and intrigue of David’s life, and we can easily, unconsciously make the fleshly mistake of treating him like a famous person, not like the servant of the Lord that he is.

Fame has nasty connotations. We all know who Oprah Winfrey is, but as much as we may relate to her and want to be like her, we know that we cannot be her. That is the unconscious lesson we apply when we look at any celebrity. “If only we could… but we can’t.” David is of such a calibre that we look at him in awe. We see him as an impossible person to equal, let alone beat. This can stop us from trying to follow his lead in spiritual areas and that should never happen. David should motivate us to imitate him through prayer, praise, studying the Word, submission to God, obedience, fasting and adoring the Lord. That is the pivotal core of every area of David’s success; he didn’t win because he was brave and strong, it was because he daily practiced those things, thus the Lord was able to use him.

Please stop there and read those last seven words again: “the Lord was able to use him.” There is the real problem that Biblical celebrity causes: when we look at David and all he achieved, we stop looking at the simplest of facts: that GOD did it THROUGH David. As David submitted to God he became God’s channel and all the success he had, really was God’s… and David readily, publicly, often admitted that. (See The Anti-King: David and Humility link below.) But our culture teaches us to look at the man and not the boring, routine factors that shaped him, so we lose this humble perspective.

Ephesians 1:19-21 proves we can be like David: “I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead…” God’s power worked through David as it worked through Jesus and Paul and now, all of us. Think of how much more we could grow if we caught hold of that truth and stopped looking at the people in our Bible as elite celebrities that we cannot be like. We must focus on how they allowed God to work through them, as we CAN copy that successfully. If we imitate David’s spiritual habits, God can carry out His perfect Will through us, which is our ultimate goal. We need a God fixation, not a hero-seeking one. (Please also read The Habits That Built King David’s Faith, the link is below.)

David was a humble man. He would never want to be seen as a celebrity, as he delighted in placing his focus on the Lord. For our thinking to be swept away by the glory and glamour of kingship and success, is to to negate every precept that the Psalms teach us. David’s words through the Psalms always push us in the direction of the Lord as the answer, we need to go in that direction and stop being distracted by wanting to be a giant slayer, or a king ourselves. It makes me sad when I hear Christians say how much they want to rule and reign with Christ, over and above them telling me how much they love to pray or hear God’s voice. We’re aching for fame and big, visible success: the things that are most likely destroy us; and in wanting them, we ignore building our character and making ourselves usable by the Lord.

We need a reality check that pulls these worldly standards out of our heads! You have heard it before, Romans 12:2 “Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (New Living Translation)

Anything the Lord does in your life won’t look like it did in David’s and it shouldn’t. God’s love for you is so great, He will give you what is going to fit, bless and build you and the people around you. You don’t need to battle Philistines, when you can conquer your own fears and hurts. You don’t need to liberate a nation, when you can bless people around you and move them towards Jesus. We’re not judged on not being like David, we’re judged on whether or not we did what the Lord asked US to do. So let’s get our heads out of the bright lights and go about our work with our eyes fixed on Jesus. It’s exactly what David would also advise you to do.

“Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in Him and He will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.
Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for Him…” Psalm 37:3-7a

– The Habits That Built King David’s Faith
– The Anti-King: David and Humility
– How to Kill Giants: Searching for the Deep Secrets Behind King David’s Success

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.