These are words to Israel in Moses’ final book. They were nearing the Promised Land ending 40 years of wandering. God had been with them. It was not the way they thought it would be. They had made it hard on themselves. If you’re having a hard time, ask the Lord “is it me or the cost of discipleship?” If we suffer for righteousness sake, we are blessed, but if we suffer because of our own deeds, we brought it on ourselves.
The Promised Land is worth it all. Keep this in mind always. Our relationship with God makes our life. We do not separate our life into how we want it. Being a child of God should be in every area of our life. We don’t leave him out of certain parts. In politics we must still be a Christian. Too many have set God aside for the party line.
A continual complaint of the children of Israel was that they seemed to miss Egypt. In every letdown or hardship they thought of Egypt and complained to Moses and Aaron. They even said they had it better in Egypt and asked where is this milk and honey? It’s almost as if they had an image in their mind of rivers flowing with it and they’d have to watch their step or they be in puddles of honey. Well, the land of milk and honey is closer than you think!
Deuteronomy 11:8 Therefore shall ye keep all the commandments which I command you this day, that ye may be strong, and go in and possess the land, whither ye go to possess it; 9 And that ye may prolong your days in the land, which the Lord sware unto your fathers to give unto them and to their seed, a land that floweth with milk and honey. 10 For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs: 11 But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven: 12 A land which the Lord thy God careth for: the eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year. 13 And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, 14 That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil. 15 And I will send grass in thy fields for thy cattle, that thou mayest eat and be full.
This is a physical description of the better land promised to Israel. They were delivered from Egypt to go there. We were saved from something–sin, our old life, hell–but also saved unto a purpose–a better life in Christ with a service to do. We have a responsibility to live like Christians. Blessings come through the goodness and mercy of God, not through something we’ve done. Where would we be without those blessings? We may think the Christian life ought to be perfect, but it’s not. The land of Canaan was not perfect, but the God who gave it to them was. He provided it and it was their responsibility to take it. We’re not promised a paradise down here. To have a life of joy we must do what verse 13 says: hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul. Follow God and stick with him to enjoy the fullness of life.
Israel couldn’t just go back to Ur where Abraham came from or into one of the other countries and expect a Promised Land of milk and honey. Many think that since they are saved that God is their servant who continually gives to them while they do nothing. So many come to church and want to be blessed; let the singers bless them or the preacher do it. No. God provided the source of the milk and honey but it was up to the people to get it. There is responsibility to God.
If we want the blessings of being a Christian we must deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus. Many claim to be strong Christians but live only for self. They say “God, do this or do that for me” but never call him Lord. Jesus must be Lord as well as Savior in our life. We are to yield our lives a living sacrifice to him. No? Too much work? Too much effort? That’s not how it works because that is what we are to do.
The Promised Land is much different than where we came from. Life may not be easier but it is better now. There is misery in being lost. The devil feeds the lie and many are numb to their sin but when the gospel comes in, the light shines. Some try to avoid it and get burned. But those who get in the light don’t burn; they tan! Life has proven to us that it is better to serve the Lord.
Verse 10 says For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs. This isn’t much of a diet but that’s what they seemed to keep asking for. That’s how it was in Egypt, but not in this new land. They missed the Nile River. They were hungry for God and didn’t even realize it. God is near and willing to take anyone, but you gotta move out of Egypt. When they ate the food in Egypt they never knew exactly what they were getting. They longed for the garlic and onions. Can you imagine having that as a diet! The blessings of God are far above any delicacies of the devil. Satan wants people to remember how “free” they were without God. They could even sleep in on Sunday. No rules to worry about. We’re a lawless society now; that’s what’s wrong. People make up their own rules of right and wrong. Equality is only found in God and his justice.
Israel overlooked that Egypt was not their vacation spot. It was mostly a flat, dry, desert that was very hot. They lived in shacks and were made slaves under hard bondage. The devil kept them poor. God has blessed us. Jesus is who matters. Wouldn’t you rather have him! It’s not an easy, smooth way. It’s not flat like Egypt. Verses 11-12 say But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven: A land which the Lord thy God careth for: the eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year. God didn’t say flat. There were hills to climb and valleys to go through. There are advantages to both. Thank God for mountaintops. Jesus went to the mountains often to pray. It was a solitary place. We may feel lonely at times but we are never alone. In the valley is where the flowers bloom. Even in the lowest valleys we are still better off. Jesus is the shepherd of the mountain and the valley.
They would have the Jordan River, not the Nile. There would be little creeks and streams but God promised the rain. He sends it when we need it most. He’s always blessed; there is no need to complain and ask “where is the milk and honey?” God cares for us every day; even while we sleep he watches over us. He intends to care for us. That’s why he allows the hard times. They help us grow. What did God promise? Rain in due season, grass in the field for the cows to be fed. Then we turn around and tell him to milk the cows as we lay around and do nothing. We expect him to feed us. Who are the only ones who get fed like that? Babies! We have to milk the cows and gather the honey. What do you want–God to bring it all to you on a saucer? You have to tend to your bees. We expect God to do it all forgetting that we are to serve him. That’s our responsibility.
If life seems barren or hard, take a look at yourself. How long has it been since you milked the cow and tended the bees? It’s up to you. Slack up in service or make it a new day of dedication and service to the Lord. When we decide to do our part, the Christian life is a promised land.