“I will give it to you as an inheritance, a land flowing with milk and honey.”

Leviticus 20:24

The land of Israel is called the “Promised Land” for a reason.  Out of his grace, God promised his people that land for the sole purpose of providing a good atmosphere to bring the Savior into the world.  Yet God also blessed his people beyond abundance.  The land of Israel is often described in the Bible as “a land flowing with milk honey.”  This is a way to show the land was very prosperous and would supply for all their needs and more.  To the Israelites it would have been a wonderful sight especially coming out of slavery in Egypt and 40 years of wandering in the wilderness.  It was their inheritance!  What joys and prosperity they had to look forward to!

There are quite a few similarities and connections between us and the Israelites.  Like the Israelites, we were brought out of slavery—the slavery of sin.  Like the Israelites, we have been wandering around in the wilderness—the wilderness of this sinful world.  Like the Israelites, we get to look forward to entering our “Promised Land” which flows with milk and honey—heaven.

The last hymn we sang on Sunday, “Jerusalem the Golden,” was all about that great Promised Land that awaits us.  “Jerusalem the Golden with milk and honey blest. The sight of it refreshes the weary and oppressed.  I know not, oh, I know not what joys await us there, what radiancy of glory, what bliss beyond compare.  Through faith in Jesus, we also have become children of God.  And as children of God we will inherit that land in heaven.  It is ours!  What joy and perfection we have to look forward to!

Yet as we wait, we find ourselves still wandering around in this sinful world.  We can become so weary and oppressed as we wander each day living out our lives.  Work is work.  It’s hard and can easily be wearisome especially the more hours you work in a week.  Don’t ever tell a stay-at-home mom that a family full of kids isn’t tiresome.  The terrible sights all over the news these past few days in Paris have brought an oppressive fear all over the world.  These are just a few things we face as we wander.  Weariness and oppression are every day struggles.

What does our hymn say, “Jerusalem the Golden with milk and honey blest. The sight of it refreshes the weary and oppressed.”  Yes indeed it refreshes us as we look to heaven with a confident hope in our salvation.  We will enter our Promised Land.  We will get to enjoy the flowing milk and honey.  We will get to enjoy our perfection.  What joy!  What glory!  This hope not only looks to the future, but it is a reality right now.  We hope, but heaven is something we already have and this weary and oppressive world cannot take that from us.  It is ours!  Live your life with that confidence!

Please enjoy the following two links that have beautifully arranged this hymn with large choirs, brass and other instruments.  I tried to create a glimpse of these arrangements on Sunday as I played my trombone with the hymn.  Yet even these two arrangements are only a glimpse of what we can expect “Amidst the halls of Zion resounding with song!”  As I listen to these arrangements I couldn’t help but think, “If this isn’t heaven yet, I can’t wait to hear the instruments and song in perfect glory!”

Here is a downloadable recording of “Jerusalem the Golden” sung by the 2012 Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Chorus.

Here is a YouTube video of “Jerusalem the Golden” sung by WELS Honor Choir in August 2008.

Listen as you read the lyrics below:

Jerusalem the Golden

1. Jerusalem the golden, With milk and honey blest—The sight of it refreshes The weary and oppressed: I know not, oh, I know not What joys await us there, What radiancy of glory, What bliss beyond compare: To sing the hymn unending With all the martyr throng, Amidst the halls of Zion Resounding full with song.

2. Oh, sweet and blessed country, The home of God’s elect! Oh, sweet and blessed country That eager hearts expect, Where they who with their leader Have conquered in the fight Forever and forever Are clad in robes of white. Jesus in mercy bring us To that dear land of rest Where sings the host of heaven Your glorious name to bless.

3. The Christ is ever with them; The daylight is serene. The pastures of the blessed Are ever rich and green. There is the throne of David; And there from care released, The shout of them that triumph, The song of them that feast. To God enthroned in glory The Church’s voices blend, The Lamb forever blessed, The Light that knows no end.

Here are the readings for your worship preparation:

The First Lesson – Daniel 7:13-14

   Jesus and his kingdom have always been around. We were brought into his kingdom and under his gracious rule by the gospel.  Now we get to worship and serve him all our days. That is what life is all about. That alone gives life true focus and purpose.

The Second Lesson – Revelation 1:4b-8

   Of all the magnificent ways in which Christ could have shown his glory, he picked to redeem us by his suffering and death so we could be with him forever. Oh how we long to see him come back and be with his glory forever.

The Gospel Lesson – John 18:33-37

   Jesus is not a king of this world. He did not come in power and glory. Jesus came to tell us the truth.  By the truth of the gospel, he saves us. Let us forever praise him for that!