Canaan - Desirable and Perfect

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A Desirable and Perfect Land

 

In Romans 8:28, Paul writes that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Paul’s message is that all things that take place in the lives of those who are called according to God’s purpose happen for a good purpose or reason. This is a universal principle or characteristic of God that bridges all generations and all times. Everything that God decides and does is always full of purpose and always for the right outcome. This is especially true of the nation of Israel. 

Over the last couple of weeks we have looked at two of God’s reasons for selecting the land of Canaan for Israel. The land was strategic for Israel to fulfill God’s missionary calling and it provided a land already furnished for occupation. As we study further, the Scriptures reveal some additional reasons why God selected this land for His people.

1) A Desirable land: For those who are God’s chosen, God always offers gifts that are full of His blessings and this land truly was a desirable piece of real estate. God through Moses foretells of the productively of this land.

Deut 8:7-10, “For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing; a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper. When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you.” NKJV

From Exodus 3:8 through Joshua 5:6, 32 times God describes the land of Canaan as a land “full of milk and honey”. Likewise the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel mention this description an additional 9 times. The idea of milk and honey speaks of the productivity and fertility of the land agriculturally.

John D. Hannah writes, “The phrase a land flowing with milk means that Canaan was ideal for raising goats and cows. Feeding on good pastureland the goats, sheep, and cows were full of milk. Flowing with honey means that the bees were busy making honey. Milk and honey suggested agricultural prosperity. This is the first of numerous references in the Old Testament to the "land flowing with milk and honey" (cf. v. 17; 33:3; Lev 20:24; Num 13:27; 14:8; 16:13-14; Deut 6:3; 11:9; 26:9,15; 27:3; 31:20; Josh 5:6; Jer 11:5; 32:22; Ezek 20:6,15). (from Bible Knowledge Commentary/Old Testament Copyright © 1983, 2000 Cook Communications Ministries; Bible Knowledge Commentary/New Testament Copyright © 1983, 2000 Cook Communications Ministries. All rights reserved.)

Kiel comments that such “a land flowing with milk and honey" . . . a proverbial description of the extraordinary fertility and loveliness of the land of Canaan (cf. v. 17; Ex 13:5; 16:14, etc.). Milk and honey are the simplest and choicest productions of a land abounding in grass and flowers, and were found in Palestine in great abundance even when it was in a desolate condition.” (from Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.)

The agricultural potential of this land is first witnessed when the twelve spies who were sent by Moses to check out the land before they invaded.

Num 13:23-25, “Then they came to the Valley of Eshcol, and there cut down a branch with one cluster of grapes; they carried it between two of them on a pole. They also brought some of the pomegranates and figs. The place was called the Valley of Eshcol, because of the cluster which the men of Israel cut down there.” NKJV

This description in Numbers gives us information about the state of agriculture in Canaan. First it indicates that the agricultural system is fully developed. It takes time to establish a vineyard or a grove of fruit producing trees. These would take second place to the development of essential crops such as wheat and barley. The existence of these types of agriculture indicates the land also must have had significant portions cleared and planted with crops of various grains and produce. Secondly, it indicates that the land is extremely fertile. If we understand Moses’ description correctly, it took two men to carry one cluster of grapes. Though I have not had much luck with growing grapes, I would still be willing to guess this would be a record even in the best vineyards of our day. This land therefore had a fertile potential probably unmatched in that region if not in all of the world. Nothing but the best for God’s Chosen people.

There is another dimension to the agricultural potential of the land that makes this land so desirable. The climate is ideal for growing crops almost year round. In Hosea 6:3, Hosea speaks of the former and latter rains. These rains are timed perfectly for the raising and harvesting of various grains. Likewise, the interaction of the Mediterranean Sea on the West and the desert on the East causes the formation of dew during the dry months which is ideal for the growing of olives and other related crops. 

As it was noted earlier in Duet. 8:10, agriculture was not the only thing that made the land fertile or productive. The land also possessed many natural resources from which a nation could grow and prosper.

It was a land of great forests from which wood could be harvested for buildings, tools, farm implements and weapons. Likewise the forests also provided for a large diversity of wild life which could be hunted for food. Some of the wild animals mentioned, that inhabited these forests, were:

Wild Ox – Num. 23:22 Fox – Ezek. 13:4 Lions & Bears – 1 Sam. 17:34

Wild Donkey – Jer. 14:6 Jackals – Isa. 34:14 Eagle – Duet. 28:49 

Gecko – Lev. 30:10 Hawk – Lev.11:16 Hyena – Isa 13:22

Leopard – Isa 11:6 Ostrich – Job 39:13 Owl – Lev. 11:16

Peacocks – 1 Kings 10:22 Rabbit – Lev. 11:6 Raven – Isa. 34:11

Deer, Gazelle, Wild Goat, Mountain Goat, Antelope, Mountain Sheep – Deut. 14:5

It was a land of great bodies of water: It had the Mediterranean Sea on the West and the Sea of Galilee on the East. These bodies of water would prove to be an abundant source of sea food as well as highways for transportation and commerce.

It was a land of many material resources. The land contained sandstone, marble and granite deposits to be quarried for the construction of buildings and monuments (1 Chron. 29:2). Metal ore and processed metal such as iron, tin, lead, bronze, cooper, gold, silver and more would be found in the land as well (Deut. 8:10; Num. 31:22). 

These material blessings given to Israel were intended to do more than provide the needs and desires of the people. They were to also provide the people the means to carry out the worship of their God and to fulfill the calling that God had given them. 

2) A Perfect land: We know that whatever decision God makes, even those without explanation, is always a good and perfect decision for the lives of those in involved. Paul alludes to this in Romans 8:28 when he states that all that God does and decides is good. Canaan was the best piece of land God could have given to Israel in order to work out His purpose and plan for His chosen people. No other land could do for Israel what this piece of land could do.