Why is Israel a Land Flowing with Milk and Honey?
Sarah Poorman | June 17, 2016
So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders. He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey (Deuteronomy 26:8-9).
Since the Abrahamic promise was spoken in Genesis 12, Israel has been God’s chosen nation. From the moment God made a covenant with Abraham, they have been His people. The Lord’s unconditional promise to His beloved children sums up His forever love upon them:
Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’
Not only did God yield this covenant back in Abraham’s life, but He constantly reminded them of His love and promises throughout the Old Testament. From the time the Israelites left Egypt, Jehovah called them specifically, and repeatedly, to a land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 3:8; Numbers 14:8; Deuteronomy 31:20; Ezekiel 20:15). At that time, the Promised Land for them was Canaan. Yet today, God’s promise continues upon the nation of Israel in many forms. We see milk and honey flowing for this people still. God’s hand of blessing upon His chosen people today is seen not only metaphorically, but also physically and most importantly, spiritually.
A Land Flowing with Milk and Honey: Metaphorical Significance
The metaphorical milk and honey that abounds with the Jewish people is in great supply. Of technological, medical and scientific advances in a modern age, an astounding number of these accomplishments come from Jewish inventors and scientists. Though the population of Israel comprises less than 0.2% of the world’s population, their contributions to science and technological advances is nothing short of incredible. Of Nobel Prize winners, 22% have been Jewish. Perhaps the greatest known of these Jewish Nobel winners is Albert Einstein, pioneer of the famous equation E=mc2. Other world changing inventors and scientists include Paul Zoll, Jewish inventor of the pacemaker and defibrillator, Theodore Maiman, who invented the laser, and vaccination pioneers Waldeman Haffkine and Jonas Salk, creating the cholera and bubonic plague vaccines and polio vaccine, respectively. The list of outstanding, world-changing accomplishments by such a tiny sliver of the world’s population is a testament that God is indeed pouring out His blessing on His people even today. It seems impossible that such a small people group could contribute such significant numbers of world advancements that it does, but it is an indication that God has His hand on His dear nation.
A Land Flowing with Milk and Honey: Physical Significance
God’s physical hand of blessing with an abundance of milk and honey is present even today in Israel. Although the nation of Israel owns a small amount of land in the hot and dry Middle East, an incredible phenomenon of agricultural production happens there. Physically speaking, the land is largely desert. However, the land of Israel produces most of its own food and exports much of it as well. Despite the conditions, Israeli cows produce more milk than the United States, Europe and Australia. It is considered a world leader in milk production. The historical notation of honey in the Old Testament is sometimes believed to be a date honey, and the land of Israel owns and harvests tens of thousands of date trees today.
“Each tree produces about 350 pounds of dates a year … Dates and palms were important in the scriptures, and those from this area were known throughout the ancient world … ‘[Roman] emperors actually used to order Judean dates to eat.’ Today, Israel’s dates are still famous throughout the world. Israel exports some 12,000 tons of dates each year to 20 countries.”
Though small and mostly desert-like, this modest land of Israel still experiences God’s physical hand of blessing, literally in the form of milk and honey. It is the evidence that God continues to take care of His people Israel.
A Land Flowing with Milk and Honey: Spiritual Significance
Perhaps the most important aspect of God’s promise to pour out His blessing on His chosen people is in the spiritual form. Through the nation of Israel, God promised to Abraham that even the entire world would be blessed. No greater example of this is found than in the salvation of the world from their sins through the coming of Jesus Christ: His life, death, burial and glorious resurrection. God first promised this salvation back in Genesis 3:15, that a Messiah would rise up and rescue the human race from their sin. God promised this offspring would rise through the lines of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Genesis 17:19, 21:12, 22:18; Numbers 24:17). The Savior would be of the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4), and would be the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world (Isaiah 53:5-12). He would save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). He came not only to redeem His people, but through the nation of Israel, He would save the world (Romans 1:16; Acts 1:8). Christ fulfilled well over 300 Old Testament prophecies to be the Messiah, first to His people the Jews and then to the uttermost parts of the earth. He truly is the greatest blessing to flow out of the nation of Israel.
Several times God spoke a specific, abundant and beautiful blessing upon His people, Israel: a land flowing with milk and honey. The promise of a fertile and rich heritage has certainly been seen in more ways than one, not only in the time of the Torah but even today. God has not removed His hand from His people. Christians must recognize the blessing the Lord has unconditionally placed over Israel, be in prayer for His people and show unapologetic support for Israel. “I will bless those who bless you and I will curse him who curse you” (Genesis 12:3, NKJV); as part of God’s promise, Christians must be on Israel’s side with vigilance, whom God unequivocally loves and holds dear, both now and forever.