Milk and Honey

I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey (Ex 3:8)

The Exodus out of Egypt and into Caanan is a paradigm in the Word for our own salvation. We were slaves in sin, just as they were slaves in Egypt. We were saved by the shed blood of Jesus, the lamb of God, just as each household in Egypt was saved by the blood of a lamb on their door posts. And we too have been brought into an inheritance in Jesus, just as Joshua (the Hebrew pronunciation of Jesus) brought them into the good land that God had prepared for them.

We know, of course, that our salvation is not the end of our journey, it is the beginning. Our pilgrimage begins as we follow Jesus in his triumph, brining in his kingdom and growing ever more closer into his likeness.

We don't have to read far into the Old Testament to find this reoccurring description of the land that God was leading them into: It was a land flowing with milk and honey.

On the surface this represents the abundance of God's bounty and provision towards his people in the inheritance he was giving them. But I want to suggest that the symbolism goes deeper. Honey, we have established, is the taste of the Word of God. Milk is the sustenance that is needed to bring a child from weakness to strength, from immaturity into maturity.

Peter uses this illustration in his first epistle:

Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation (1Pe 2:2)

The writer to the Hebrews also uses the same illustration:

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (Heb 5:12-14)

God's spiritual milk then is the basic teachings of the word of God that are foundational to us leading a life of faith. We need them if we are to continue in our pilgrimage in the land onwards to maturity and the fullness of Christ.

This spiritual symbolism of milk bringing us to maturity where we can discern good from evil is not just found in the New Testament either, for Isaiah says:

He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. (Isa 7:15)

Which brings us full circle back to Honey and the unmistakable taste of God's word. We need God's word if we are to grow into maturity. Without it we will stay in infancy.

Having laid the groundwork for this interpretation of Milk and Honey, I will draw some applications out of it in the next post...


SLW said...

I liked the mention of Joshua and seeing in him (and his name) the type of Jesus. Isn't it interesting that the Law (Moses) couldn't get the faithful into the promise but Joshua (Jesus) could?

Chris HH said...

Eusebius in his church history has a great insight. He points out that both the men with Moses in the tent of the presence had their names or titles changed. Hoshea son of Nun became Joshua. Aaron as high-priest became the anointed one.

Thus in the Greek, Moses came into the presence of God with "Jesus" and "Christ".

It all points to him. The purpose of the Law is to lead us to Jesus.

SLW said...


Anonymous said...

You should read the poem by Eavan Boland called Anorexic because there is a line in it about renouncing milk and honey. It is a poem about selfsacrifice to bring oneself closer to God.