A Good Land
C. H. Mackintosh
"For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig-trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass" (verses 7-9). How fair was the prospect! how bright the vision! How marked the contrast to the Egypt behind them and the wilderness through which they had passed! The Lord's land lay before them in all its beauty and verdure, its vine-clad hills and honeyed plains, its gushing fountains and flowing streams. How refreshing the thought of the vine, the fig-tree, the pomegranate, and the olive! How different from the leeks, onions, and garlic of Egypt! Yes, all so different! It was the Lord's own land: this was enough. It produced and contained all they could possibly want. Above its surface, rich profusion; below, untold wealth — exhaustless treasure.
What a prospect! How the faithful Israelite would long to enter upon it! — long to exchange the sand of the desert for that bright inheritance! True, the desert had its deep and blessed experiences, its holy lessons, its precious memories; there they had known Jehovah in a way they could not know Him even in Canaan; all this was quite true, and we can fully understand it; but still the wilderness was not Canaan, and every true Israelite would long to set his foot on the land of promise, and truly we may say that Moses presents the land, in the passage just quoted, in a way eminently calculated to attract the heart. "A land", he says, "wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it". What more could be said? Here was the grand fact in reference to that good land into which the hand of covenant-love was about to introduce them. All their wants would be divinely met. Hunger and thirst should never be known there. Health and plenty, joy and gladness, peace and blessing, were to be the assured portion of the Israel of God in the fair inheritance on which they were about to enter. Every enemy was to be subdued; every obstacle swept away; "the pleasant land" was to pour forth its treasures for their use; watered continually by heaven's rain, and warmed by its sunlight, it was to bring forth, in rich abundance, all that the heart could desire. What a land! what an inheritance! what a home! Of course, we are looking at it now from a divine stand-point — looking at it according to what it was in the mind of God, and what it shall most assuredly be to Israel during that bright millennial age which lies before them. We should have but a very poor idea indeed of the Lord's land were we to think of it merely as possessed by Israel in the past, even in the very brightest days of its history, as it appeared amid the splendors of Solomon's reign. We must look onward to "the times of the restitution of all things", in order to have any thing like a true idea of what the land of Canaan will yet be to the Israel of God.
Now, Moses speaks of the land according to the divine idea of it. He presents it as given by God, and not as possessed by Israel. This makes all the difference. According to his charming description, there was neither enemy nor evil occurrent: nothing but fruitfulness and blessing from end to end. That is what it would have been, that is what it should have been, and that is what it shall be, by and by, to the seed of Abraham, in pursuance of the covenant made with their fathers — the new, the everlasting covenant, founded on the sovereign grace of God and ratified by the blood of the cross. No power of earth or hell can hinder the purpose or the promise of God. "Hath He said, and shall He not do it"? God will make good, to the letter, every word, spite of all the enemy's opposition and the lamentable failure of His people. Though Abraham's seed have utterly failed under law and under government, yet Abraham's God will give grace and glory, for His gifts and calling are without repentance.
Moses fully understood all this. He knew how it would turn out with those who stood before him, and with their children after them, for many generations; and he looked forward into that bright future in which a covenant-God would display, in the view of all created intelligences, the triumphs of His grace in His dealings with the seed of Abraham His friend.
Meanwhile, however, the faithful servant of Jehovah, true to the object before his mind, in all those marvelous discourses on which they were about to plant their foot. As he had spoken of the past and of the present, so would he make use of the future; he would turn all to account in his holy effort to urge upon the people their obvious, bounden duty to that blessed One who had so graciously and tenderly cared for them all their journey through, and who was about to bring them in and plant them in the mountain of His inheritance. Let us hearken to his touching and powerful exhortations.
"When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the Lord thy God for the good land which He has given thee" (verse 10). How simple! how lovely! how morally suitable! Filled with the fruit of Jehovah's goodness, they were to bless and praise His holy name. He delights to surround Himself with hearts filled to overflowing with the sweet sense of His goodness, and pouring forth songs of praise and thanksgiving. He inhabits the praises of His people. He says, "Whoso offereth praise glorifieth Me". The feeblest note of praise from a grateful heart ascends as fragrant incense to the throne and to the heart of God.
Let us remember this. It is as true for us, most surely, as it was for Israel, that praise is comely. Our grand primary business is to praise the Lord. Our every breath should be a hallelujah. It is to this blessed and most sacred exercise the Holy Ghost exhorts us, in manifold places. "By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name". We should ever remember that nothing so gratifies the heart and glorifies the name of our God as a thankful, worshiping spirit on the part of His people. It is well to do good and communicate — God is well pleased with such sacrifices; it is our high privilege, while we have opportunity, to do good unto all men, and especially unto them who are of the household of faith; we are called to be channels of blessing between the loving heart of our Father and every form of human need that comes before us in our daily path; all this is most blessedly true, but we must never forget that the very highest place is assigned to praise. It is this which shall employ our ransomed powers throughout the golden ages of eternity, when the sacrifices of active benevolence shall no longer be needed.
Extract from Notes on the Pentateuch, by C. H. Mackintosh.
A Good Land