Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Milk and Honey?

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Moses then ordered Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, to appear, but they said, “We’re not coming. Isn’t it enough that you yanked us out of a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the wilderness? And now you keep trying to boss us around! Face it, you haven’t produced: You haven’t brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, you haven’t given us the promised inheritance of fields and vineyards. You’d have to poke our eyes out to keep us from seeing what’s going on. Forget it, we’re not coming.” Numbers 16:12-14 The MSG

Milk and Honey?

The book of Numbers continues the story of the Israelite’s journey to the promised land. God called Moses and his brother Aaron to lead them out of the bondage of slavery. God opened the Red Sea so they could pass through escaping the Egyptian army. He had led them through the wilderness and brought them to the promised land, only for them to be too afraid to claim the promised land God had given them. They were going to have to invade and take the promised land from the inhabitants, which most of them deemed too powerful to overcome. Even though God had delivered them, provided for them, entered into a covenant with them and promised them a land flowing with milk and honey, they continued to rebel against God. And God continued to punish them. When they refuse to enter the promised land because of their lack of faith, God told them that they would die in the wilderness and the promised land would go to their children. 

This chapter of Numbers begins with three men in particular deciding that they no longer want Moses and Aaron for their leaders. Moses gives them an order:

Then he said to Korah and all his followers, Tomorrow morning the Lord will reveal who belongs to him, who is set apart, and the one he will let come near him. He will let the one he chooses come near him.  Korah, you and all your followers are to do this: take firepans, and tomorrow place fire in them and put incense on them before the Lord. Then the man the Lord chooses will be the one who is set apart. It is you Levites who have gone too far!”! Numbers 16:5-7

Moses is angry. God was ready to consume the whole community and warned Moses and Aaron to step away. Moses appealed on behalf of the innocent ones in the community and God spared all but Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and their households.

The Lord replied to Moses, Tell the community: Get away from the dwellings of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram… Just as he finished speaking all these words, the ground beneath them split open. The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households, all Korah’s people, and all their possessions. Numbers 16:23-24; 31-32

There are so many good lessons for us in this story but the thing that jumped out at me is that in their anger with Moses, Dathan and Abiram said Isn’t it enough that you yanked us out of a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the wilderness?  Moses had led them out of the bondage of slavery, to lead them toa land flowing with milk and honey. They were in bondage! There is no milk and honey in bondage! Yet they did not want to follow God’s laws and step out in faith to claim the true land of milk and honey that God gave them. It was theirs, they only had to claim it. 

Sin is bondage, and it is bondage that promises milk and honey. It looks like milk and honey, and it may feel like milk and honey. And when we finally break free of the bondage of sin and begin the hard work of sanctification, we may remember it as milk and honey. But it is not milk and honey. 

Like the Israelites, we sometimes want to go running back to what we have left behind. If we do not let go of our sin and embrace our relationship with Jesus, living the Jesus Way, we might find ourselves wishing for the old bondage of the sin we left behind. Turning away from our sin is not enough if we do not then begin a new life in Him. 

In the Bible, milk and honey are symbols of abundance and sweetness. Sin tricks us so often into believing that it can give us the abundance, fertility, and sweetness we so desperately seek. We chase this milk and honey in false gods of our own making, until we come to the end of ourselves. We, like the Israelites, sometimes have to pay some heavy consequences from looking in all the wrong places. 

God is the only thing that will give us all we truly seek and desire. He fulfills every need and fills every hole in our hearts. We will wander in the wilderness of bondage until we finally realize this, repent, believe, and start our journey on the Jesus Way. 

What are you in bondage to today? 

Is there anything that you left behind but are still drawn back into? 


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