The Promised Land ‘flowing with milk and honey’
The land of Canaan west of the river Jordan was part of the land that God promised by covenant to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to be a possession for them and their seed for ever (Genesis 13 v 14–18; Genesis 17 v 1-10). In the fullness of the covenant of God a far greater land was promised to them (Genesis 15 v 18-21) which was confirmed in that two and a half tribes of the children of Israel had their inheritance on the east side of the river Jordan. The complete 'promised land' is described in its extremities by Ezekiel in his vision of the kingdom of God (Ezekiel 48).
This land west of the river Jordan is the place chosen by God (the creator of all lands) as the area where the people that He chose would live and is described as the land ‘flowing with milk and honey’ according as God told Moses when He first commissioned him to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt, “And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites” (Exodus 3 v 8).
As a land ‘flowing with milk and honey’ it was a land of verdant greenery, lush meadows, abundant flowers and exceptional fruit, a land of sunshine and showers, of natural springs of water and swift running brooks, a land of heat in summer and cold in winter and was described by God to Moses, “For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; A land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass” (Deuteronomy 8 v 6-14). Because this land was the choice of God, Israel were warned through Moses about their attitude to their custody of that land in order for them to remember that it was not theirs to trade with, but that it was the land of God as it is written, “The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me” (Leviticus 25 v 23).
The covenant of God is that He will give this land to the children of Israel forever because of the fidelity of the faith of Abraham in a world of idolatry (Deuteronomy 7 v 7-8). This inheritance has not been fulfilled to this day even though Israel now live in the same land - they are there as a witness to the existence of God and His purpose (Isaiah 43 v 9-12; Jeremiah 31 v 10), as a prefigurement of the fulfillment of those prophecies (Ezekiel 11 v 17) and as a herald of the time that will come when Jesus Christ returns to the earth (Luke 21 v 29-32) to establish the government of God across the whole earth (Isaiah 9 v 6-7). At that time the natural seed of Abraham will inherit the land bounded by the Mediterranean Sea on the west and Persian Gulf on the east, by the river Euphrates in the north and the Red Sea on the south as an everlasting inheritance, and the few mortal Gentiles remaining after the judgments of God will inhabit the rest of the earth.
The record of the 'land' described in the Holy Bible as ‘flowing with milk and honey’ up to the time Israel crossed Jordan shows that it was inhabited by God-less nations and is an allegory of the naturally degenerate mind and heart (the soul) of all men and women. It is written that the 'eyes of the Lord are always upon' the land of the promises - the land then known as Canaan (Deuteronomy 11 v 12), and it was to this land that God led Abraham when he left Ur of the Chaldeas, a land of rich pastures and fruitfulness. Following the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in the bordering valley of Jordan (Genesis 19) the 'infection' of human depravity rampant in those cities spread to the whole of the land of Canaan during the intervening years as is described in (Leviticus 18). It was the rightful work of God to destroy and remove that degeneracy from the land He cared for and replace it's depraved inhabitants with a people who bore His name and were under His Law. That people was Israel who were the instruments in His hand. To understand the allegory it is necessary to remember that God created man in the beginning as 'very good' (in body and mind) and placed him in a verdant and fruitful garden - the Garden of Eden, but because of sin Adam sank into immorality and was rightly driven out of that Garden. Since then mankind has sank further in the bottomless pit of immorality and is exemplified in the seven God-less nations that inhabited Canaan (Deuteronomy 7 v 1). In the allegory, these seven nations represent the enmity within each man and woman (Proverbs 6 v 16-19) whose temptations are to be driven out of the heart and mind (the soul) and destroyed by all who God calls to bear His name God and that of Christ Jesus. The mental struggle against temptation and selfish satisfaction is not in one great battle of 'being saved', but is a lifetime process of many battles after the example that God set in Israel in their war with the inhabitants (Deuteronomy 7 v 22). There are many battles in the war of overcoming the enmity in order to restore our heart to the 'fruitful garden' - 'flowing with milk and honey' that God created, but there is only one war and that war was won by Jesus Christ alone who was prefigured by a lesser but important warrior of the Lord - Joshua (Hebrew for Jesus). God taught in the allegory that the warfare against the tempter (our nature) is to be little by little and must be accomplished during our mortal life before the eternal inheritance of the body can begin - by which we can understand what Paul later taught, that by baptism we are 'translated into the kingdom of His dear Son' (Colossians 1 v 12-14), that is, living in a mortal body and human existence but mentally and spiritually under the law of God and Christ - as though we were in the 'promised land'. The battles against our nature are to be fought in the name of the Lord by obedience to His word as was Israel were instructed (Deuteronomy 7 v 1-11) and (9 v 1-6), (Exodus 23 v 20-25), and as Paul confirmed (I Corinthians 9 v 7), (II Corinthians 10 v 3-5), (Ephesians 6 v 11-18). This is the way of the covenant of God, the preparation of the heart and mind for an eternal inheritance - there is no instant salvation, nor os the kingdom of God anywhere else but on earth in the future.
While many thousands of the children if Israel came out of Egypt, only two of them (Joshua and Caleb) actually entered the promised land to illustrate the selectivity of the choice of God that He will make as to who He will allow to enter into His everlasting kingdom, a truth which Jesus endorsed, “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22 v 14) and as Moses was told by God, “For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion” (Romans 9 v 15). Although Moses and other unnamed members did not physically enter the land, but died in the wilderness as a witness to the frail mortality of mankind and the sanctity of the immortal power of God, many will be raised from the grave to enter the everlasting kingdom of God on earth as saints when Jesus returns from the right hand of God in heaven. This was because, when these were physically in the literal wilderness, the ‘sight’ of their faith - the forefront of their mind - the focus of their heart in the everlasting covenant of God - was firmly translated into the (as then unseen) ‘Promised Land’ of the everlasting kingdom of God on earth prefigured by the land of Canaan. These few in Israel were simultaneously traversing two journeys, one a literal one to the land of Canaan and secondly a spiritual journey to the fulfillment of the covenant. Because of this faith God allowed Moses to physically see the land where his mind had been set before he died as a prelude to the greater fulfillment, “And the LORD said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither” (Deuteronomy 34 v 4), because the next thing Moses will be conscious of will be the glorified land in the kingdom of God.
The same covenant of God is alive today, and the same response to that covenant is open to all men and women, and the same selectiveness by God will apply when the time of the entry to the kingdom of God on earth comes. That kingdom will be different from all other kingdoms and empires in that it will be ruled solely by the law of God which will be rigorously applied by one king Jesus Christ (Micah 4 v 1-4; Revelation 20 v 1-3). That time has not yet come, but in preparation of the ruler ship of the kingdom of God by the law of God in Christ in all the earth our hearts and minds are to be ruled now by the spirit of that same law (Colossians 1 v 13). The scripture shows that only those whose hearts, minds, characters, souls and lives have already been under the kingdom and ruler ship of the law of God by faith in Christ while in the spiritual wilderness of their mortal state (John 17 v 16; John 18 v 36; I John 2 v 15-17) will have their bodies changed from mortality to immortality (I Corinthians 15), because their minds were so set upon the kingdom of God (Hebrews 11 v 13-16) that they were effectively living there as it’s citizens.
This will be seen in their manner of life in submission to the laws of the natural citizenship in the country of their mortal existence and in their submission to its judgments (the natural citizenship; Romans 13). It will be seen in their obedience to the law of God in Christ while in their natural existence (their spiritual citizenship; Philippians 3 v 20) and in their submission by repentance to the judgment of God through obedience to His word in the conscience, and by circumstances brought about as a result of that obedience. Paul wrote of the work of God and the response to that work in preparing for the kingdom, “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1 v 13) which clearly means the spirit, character, soul and manner of life are ‘translated’ into the kingdom of God by obedience to the absolute ruler ship of the word of God while in the physical mortal body.
Therefore to live within the bounty of the promises of the covenant of God it is essential to live by faith, based upon hope, founded upon trust in God as did Abraham of whom it is written, “Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be” (Romans 4 v 18), and for all believers it is written, “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Romans 8 v 24-25). The same faith in the hope of the bounty of the promise of the covenant of God was required of Israel in the wilderness concerning the promised land as a land ‘flowing with milk and honey’.
That kingdom is yet to come on this earth, but unless we are under the ruler ship of the kingdom of God now in all our life we can never hope to be selected to enter the greater 'promised land' which will flow with ‘milk and honey’ (figures of the word of God and its judgments) for ever. Jesus said that in addition to the promise of the literal kingdom of God the herat and mind must first be ruled by the law of Christ, “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17 v 21). If it is not within us now (i.e. submission to the ruler ship of God), we will never be when it actually comes (Matthew 7 v 13-23).
If the universal land of the Kingdom of God on earth is to be a literal world of abundant fruitfulness due to the blessing of God through the unopposed administration of His law (as prefigured in the land of Canaan as then was Deuteronomy 30 v 1-16) and we hope to be in that worldwide land, then our manner of life by faith must be a spiritual life ‘flowing with the milk and honey’ of the fruits of the Holy Spirit embodied in the covenant of God as was demonstrated by Jesus Christ of whom it was prophesied would allegorically eat a spiritual diet of butter and honey, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good” (Isaiah 7 v 14-15). As a result of this spiritual diet he would show the fruits of the Holy Spirit - without the weeds of the enmity - in a mortal body as it is written, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galatians 5 v 23-24). Therefore the state of our heart and mind (according to the same covenant of God) must also be one of ‘flowing with milk and honey’ in order to form the fruits of the Holy Spirit in our way of life and demonstrate the power of the name of God in our character (Exodus 34 v 6).
God has preserved the record of the verdant fruitfulness of promised land of Canaan (Numbers 13 v 20-23), the debasement of its natural inhabitants (Leviticus 18) and the conquest of that land of Canaan by the power of God (Deuteronomy 7 v 1; Joshua 6) to be used as a figure of what He requires of all those who have the embrace the hope of the promises by repenting through baptism to develop characters of spiritual fruitfulness by displacement and destruction of the effects of the enmity within our own nature by the power of the Holy Spirit which is given by gift in the promises of His covenant through Jesus Christ (John 14 v 16 & 26; John 15 v 26; John 16 v 7). The intents of our heart and the thoughts of our minds are to become like a fruitful garden - rid of weeds and thorns - as the soul of Jesus became, as it is written of him, “I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved” (Song of Solomon 5 v 1) so that Jesus can rejoice and say of his bride (the saints) to His Father “A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard, Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices: A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon” (Song of Solomon 4:12-16).
With this figure of the garden of the Lord, Jesus spoke of the fruits of the life as the works that are done, “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7 v 15-20). Our heart and mind were created to be like a garden flowing with the milk and honey of the word of God, but the lie of the serpent (perpetuated through the enmity) corrupted our nature in the same way that the natural indigenous inhabitants of Canaan corrupted the promised land, and as it was then - so it is now - only by the power of the Holy Spirit can the usurping effects of the enmity residing within us be driven out and our hearts and minds restored to a garden full of the fruits of the Lord. This transformation of character is to be done in the naturally barren wilderness of mortality (due to the curse of God) as Paul wrote, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us” (II Corinthians 4 v 6-7).