Several times in the Old Testament we read about a land flowing with milk and honey. The land which God gave the Israelites after their departure from Egypt, the land of Canaan or the “promised land,” was this land which was figuratively painted as flowing with milk and honey. Here are a few verse references:
Ex 3:8 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.
Ex 3:17 And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey. (Also Ex 13:5; 33:3)
Lev 20:24 But I have said unto you, You* shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that flows with milk and honey: I [am] the LORD your God, which have separated you from [other] people.
32:21 And hast brought forth thy people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs, and with wonders, and with a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with great terror;
32:22 And hast given them this land, which thou didst swear to their fathers to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey;
Now, if we were to understand what this means from a strictly historical vantage point, we might think that the land of Canaan was generously endowed with many cows, goats and bees in order for it to flow with milk and honey. On the other hand, we might wonder what is so special about having a super-abundance of milk and honey to begin with. Certainly there are many other resources that would be far more valuable than having milk and honey. In fact, we find that during the reign of Solomon, he surpassed all the other kings of the world in great wealth and wisdom:
9:20 And all the drinking vessels of king Solomon [were of] gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon [were of] pure gold: none [were of] silver; it was [not] any thing accounted of in the days of Solomon.
9:21 For the king’s ships went to Tarshish with the servants of Huram: every three years once came the ships of Tarshish bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks.
9:24 And they brought every man his present, vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and raiment, harness, and spices, horses, and mules, a rate year by year.
So what is so great about a land that is simply flowing with milk and honey in comparison to such great wealth? Actually, it is far greater.
You see, the Old Testament “promised land” given to the Israelites was a picture or a portrait of heaven which the believers in Christ will inherit. It was an earthly example illustrating a heavenly reality. And the milk and honey flowing in the eternal promised land is the precious Word of God which abundantly flows in Heaven. The milk and honey spoken of in the Old Testament, therefore, was just a shadow or a picture pointing to God’s Word in the eternal sense. Consider these verses, allowing the Bible to define the terms “milk” and “honey”:
I Peter 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that you* may grow thereby:
We see here the phrase milk of the word as it relates to the Word of God. Also, in Isaish 55:
55:1 Ho, every one that thirsts, come you* to the waters, and he that has no money; come you*, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
55:2 Wherefore do you* spend money for [that which is] not bread? and your labor for [that which] satisfies not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat you* [that which is] good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.
55:3 Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, [even] the sure mercies of David.
Notice in Isaiah 55 that God speaks of buying wine and milk, without money and without price, in the context of hearkening diligently unto Him, and inclining your ear. God equates buying wine and milk without money to listening to His Word. And then He says, …come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, [even] the sure mercies of David.
This everlasting covenant that God speaks of is salvation — it is what causes our soul to live if we become saved. And we can only become saved if we hear the Gospel, God’s Word as is written in the Bible.
Consider these verses which indicate God’s Word saves His people:
Psalm 119:25 My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me [that is, make me alive] according to thy word.
Romans 10:17 So then faith [comes] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
1 Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
Looking now at the word “honey,” it, too, is used in the context of the Word of God.
19:7 The law of the LORD [is] perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD [is] sure, making wise the simple.
19:8 The statutes of the LORD [are] right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD [is] pure, enlightening the eyes.
19:9 The fear of the LORD [is] clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the LORD [are] true [and] righteous altogether.
19:10 More to be desired [are they] than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
In the Psalm above, God’s Word is actually spoken of as sweeter than honey and the honeycomb. Nevertheless, God uses honey in this context as a comparison of the sweetness of His Word. And in this context, we see again that it is salvation for the believers — it converts the soul, it enlightens the eyes, it makes the simple wise and so on. And notice also how they are more to be desired than gold, yea, than much fine gold. God’s Word is far more precious and rich than all the gold in the world, which will just burn up into oblivion on the last day when the current heavens and earth are destroyed by fire. Again, in Psalm 119:
119:103 How sweet are thy words unto my taste! [yea, sweeter] than honey to my mouth!
119:104 Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.
This is similar to what we just read in Psalm 19. Consider this passage in Ezekiel as well:
3:1 Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel.
3:2 So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll.
3:3 And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat [it]; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness.
3:4 And he said unto me, Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with my words unto them.
In this passage, Ezekiel eats a roll. A roll in this case is a “scroll,” not a roll of bread — and here it’s the Word of God written down on a scroll and given to Ezekiel to eat and to speak. And this roll is in Ezekiel’s mouth as honey for sweetness.
Another reference to the word of God and honey is found in Proverbs 16:
Proverbs 16:24 Pleasant words [are as] an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.
So the true land that flows with milk and honey is far greater than some earthly real estate in which there is an abundance of cows, goats and bees producing mass quantities of milk and honey. The eternal promised land of God is in heaven where His Word is the wealth and riches of His people — something infinitely greater flowing with eternal life, joy and rejoicing in Christ forevermore.
A Land Flowing with Milk and Honey