I’ve always thought that a land flowing with milk and honey sounded a little underwhelming. I like both, but surely there were better things (like chocolate or unicorns) that a perfect land could be filled with. But then a few weeks ago, the thought popped into my head that it wasn’t just milk and honey God was giving them, it was all the things which could be made using milk (dairy) and honey (sweetener). Ice cream, pasta sauce, pretty much every recipe on this blog. In itself, the milk and honey promise was deeper than I thought, and it was also symbolic of all the physical blessings God promised physical Israel for obedience (Deut. 28:1-14).
I’m sure there were Israelites who said something like, Milk and honey? That’s it? “We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic,” those were much better (Num. 11:4). They did not understand that what God offered was infinitely better than what they used to have.
How many times do we devalue God’s promises, choosing instead to cling to things in this world because we do not realize just how much better the things God wants to give us are? In C.S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain, he says that if we think we want less than God offers — wishing “God had designed us for a less glorious and less arduous destiny” — we are “asking not for more love, but for less.”
Sometimes we wish for things that are not good for us because we do not fully understand or value what we are being offered. God loves us too much to let us settle for a curse when He wants to give us a blessing. That’s why He keeps trying to bring us back to Him when we stray. Just look at how many times, in the midst of just punishments for sin, He begs Israel to come back to Him for their good (Hosea 11).