Sunday, Jan 20, 2019. Do you want to be rich? Do you want to be well set with your life and your environment? Do you want to live in a country where milk and honey flow? Yes, you will probably say. Yes, it would be good not to have to fight for the basic things in life day by day, but to be well set, to be prosperous, to be rich and to have all what is needed - and a little bit more.
It is very exciting - this phrase of a “land, where milk and honey flows” comes from the book of Exodus, the second book of the bible. What is the framework in which this phrase is used?
Out of Slavery …
The people of Israel have been in slavery for many years. They have been in Egypt. And now God is talking to Moses at the burning bush. He is promising to free his people, and to bring them into a land where they have plenty. It is adressing the needs we talked about. It is about the desire to be save and in a neighborhood where all is well. Let us look into this passage, the following part formulates the promise a second time:
16 Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I have observed you and what has been done to you in Egypt, 17 and I promise that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey.”’ (Exodus 3, 17ff)
There might be several objections to this approach. In particular today, in a time where Israel is back in this land, we might question the task. Why is God giving them this land? But remember: many years before this event there was a guy called Abraham. He lived in the land of Canaan. He lived there with his family, with all their animals and servants, and they had to flee during a great drought. It was his land, the region where he had been for so long!
We live in a time where migration is one of the big questions of our time. But it is good to dig deep here. And it is necessary to look at all cases individually, to study them in a wider context.
What type of migration is good, what is bad? Not everyone can come and take the land of others. Occupation and power struggle ahs been a part of the world ever since. Today colonalization is strongly opposed. At the same time, we do not have a solution to the need of migration, to suppression and poverty. Not everyone can go everywhere, and destroy what they want to destroy. But there is still mercy, truth and love, which can guide our hearts when we set rules, today and tomorrow!
God wants good Things for all …
God wants good things for his people. He wants good things for all! Here, we hear that he wants to give a land where milk and honey flows to his people. He wants them to prosper. They are the people who want to live with him. They are open to his interaction. They pray to him. They ask him to be their God, to be in their life!
In the modern Christian traditions we have sometimes forgotten that God wants good things for his people. We have, of course, heard the story of Jesus. We all know that he died at the cross. We know that his kingdom is not of this world. We know about the spiritual meaning of salvation, about the reconciled relationships, about mercy, love and truth.
We also have heard about the suffering of the apostles. We know about the suffering of the Christian church during the Roman empire for about 300 years. Christian faith became mainstream in western countries after that - not necessarily a perfect development, since suddently everything was Christian in these countries, good or bad, according to Jesus teaching or against it. But still suffering went on for those who were close to the original texts, even in Christian countries Christians were persecuted, now under Christian rule. We also know about many Christian suffering today in communist and Islamic countries.
Some parts of the Christian church have started to re-discover that God wants good things for his people - and not only for them, but for all people! It is good to re-discover this, of course keeping a wise balance with all what Jesus himself tells his disciples about suffering for the gospel. (Roland Potthast) ... further texts