"So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians,
and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land,
to a land flowing with milk and honey..."
- Exodus 3:8
The Old Testament is NOT the place most Christians gravitate toward. We don't really think it's beautiful; it's hard to read, there are a lot of battles and laws and lineage and Jesus hasn't physically shown up yet. The Old Testament is not full of warm, fuzzy feelings. It is not going to give you a big, theological hug.
In college, I had a professor who instilled within me a love for the Old Testament; for the history, the wrath, the goodness, the story. This is the greatest lesson and gift that I was given as a theology student. He allowed me to see that the Old Testament is absolutely needed and beautiful; because without the wrath, there is no need for love, and without the love, there would be no wrath. We miss that, us Christians, and we miss it hard. This summer I have journeyed through the pages of the Old Testament with a brilliant group of women. Their love for God and His Word completely encourage me. We just finished Genesis not too long ago. We wrestled with the text, asked questions, and began to hide the stories in our hearts.
We are currently finishing Exodus, the culmination of slavery and freedom. All throughout Exodus, we see the brokenness of slavery and the beauty of the promise of freedom. These pages are meaty and hearty and full of symbolism and story. We do not just read about the chains, but feel the heaviness of the bondage, the deep anticipation and longing to be set free.
The thing that I have been clinging to is the sweetness of the Lord; Yahweh, this great and powerful and wrathful God also establishes Himself as the standard of sweetness. We see this as He provides the way to the land of flowing milk and honey, as He turns the bitter water to sweet water, as He writes the story of redemption in the midst of the wilderness. Honey, thick and gooey and sticky and sweet, a pure reflection of tangible grace.
"...this great and powerful and wrathful God
also establishes Himself as the standard of sweetness…"
The land of flowing milk and honey is referenced four times throughout Exodus. Yahweh reminds them that there hope is coming, that although now they experience the dry and weary land, they will experience a land in the future that is abundant in all good things. Manna is sent from Heaven and, we are told in Exodus 16:5, that it tastes much like the sweetness of honey. Another taste of what is ahead of us; our sweet God is faithful to remind us of what is coming, that we should measure our experiences from the standard of His provision.
And I don't know about you, but I really need to lean in to that space. I need to be washed by the sweetness, to let God drench me with the thick and gooey truth of His goodness. I want my heart to trade in its bitter places for the sweetness of His constant provision and faithfulness. He leads us from our bondage into His blessing, from slavery into sweetness. And you know, sometimes we can't feel it or taste it or see it, but it is coming. The brokenness and bitterness and bondage now will allow us to taste and see that the Lord is sweeter than we could have ever imaged.