I recently wrote of ways a shepherd needs to care for his flock of sheep so that they would be content and enabled to lie down. One such way was assuring that his sheep had food. Pastures need to be fertile and lush. God desired a rich and fertile land for His children as well. He promised that.
“‘…and 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
milk (as the richness of kine):— cheese, milk, sucking; abundance of the land, choicest, best part, abundance (of products of the land)
to be gummy; honey (from its stickiness); by analogy, syrup:—honey(-comb); a delicacy provided by nature
At the end of forty days they returned from spying out the land. And they came to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the people of Israel in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh. They brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. And they told him, “We came to the land to which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.” Numbers 13:25-27
This land was just as God promised, yet the doubt overcame all but two spies.
Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the people of Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes and said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, “The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. If the LORD delights in us, He will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them.” Numbers 14:5-9
The children of Israel did not enter in at that time.
This beautiful land continued to be a promise of God’s. He prepared the land that it would supply nourishment and a place to live when the time was right.
W. Phillip Keller writes:
“… green pastures are essential to success with sheep. When lambs are maturing and the ewes need green, succulent feed for a heavy milk flow, there is no substitute for good pasturage.
“In the Scriptures, the picture portrayed of the Promised Land … was that of a “land flowing with milk and honey.” Not only is this figurative language, but also essentially scientific terminology. In agricultural terms we speak of a “milk flow” and “honey flow.” By this we mean the peak season of spring and summer when pastures are at their most productive stages. The livestock that feed on the forage and the bees that visit the blossoms are said to be producing a corresponding “flow” of milk or honey. So a land flowing with milk and honey is a land of rich, green, luxuriant pastures.” **
God spoke of this land for His children, wanting the best for them. He wanted to see them living in abundance…filled with joy, life, contentment, and love for one another.
God supplies this rich land and, as our Good Shepherd, He leads us into the land of milk and honey.
At the same time, though, we have a choice. We can feed there and find peace and plenty. Or we can go off on our own, feeding on dry ground, on poor, foraged pastures.
The Good Shepherd wants the very best for us. It is His way or the other way.
Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. Matthew 21:43
For He remembered His holy promise,
and Abraham, His servant.
So He brought His people out with joy,
His chosen ones with singing.
And He gave them the lands of the nations,
and they took possession of the fruit of the peoples’ toil,
that they might keep His statutes
and observe His laws.
Praise the Lord!
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. James 3:17
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
LORD, may I, Your sheep, follow You into this beautiful pasture where the flow of Your riches is continual. I can know peace and joy, love and kindness, gentleness and mercy there. May I turn to You always so that I am being drawn to the fullness of Your grace and mercy all of the time. As I shelter beneath the span of Your wings, I can come to know the essence of this richness, this vital and pure milk and honey because I am safe and near to You, my Shepherd. Thank You, LORD, for being patient and loving with me, guiding me to Your readied pasture. May I follow You always. In the beautiful Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.
** excerpt from “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23”