I’ve had a Veggie Tales song stuck in my head the last couple days. It’s from Josh and the Big Wall, based on the story of Joshua and the Israelites’ entrance into the Promised Land.
The song starts with their laments that they’ve been wandering around in the wilderness for 40 years because of their disobedience and disbelief in God:
We didn’t have a lot of fun in the desert
We didn’t have a lot of fun in the sand
But saddle up your cow and fall behind us now
Because we’re goin’ to the Promised Land!
And the song continues with a list of all the treats the veggie Israelites are dreaming of feasting on once they get to the land the Bible describes as “flowing with milk and honey” (see Exodus 33:3):
And in the Promised Land, it’s gonna be so grand
We’ll have our fill from the grill as much as we can stand
It’ll be so great with waffles on my plate
‘Cause we’re goin’ to the Promised Land
The song, in VeggieTale style, gushes with food the Israelites wouldn’t have even known about, of course. But the concept hits to the core of where the Israelites’ hearts were:
Ready for the Promised Land.
For the Israelites, the Promised Land was probably little different than Chuck E. Cheese is to a 6-year-old today. Full of the promises of delight beyond what the imagination can hold. A feast of joy. And that is where most Israelites held their loyalty, as the song points out:
The dining was lousy with Moses
But we’ll be feasting with Josh in command
I’d like a taco, please, and some pintos and cheese
Because we’re goin’ to the Promised Land
They wanted the Promised Land, and they wanted it now.
Now there was nothing wrong with longing for the Promised Land. In Hebrews, the author talks about how God rewards those who believe in His promises (see Hebrews 11). In fact, Hebrews 11:6 says,
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
There’s nothing wrong with looking forward to the reward of Heaven.
But the VeggieTale song strikes right at the heart of the Israelites’ problem:
For years, I’ve eat nothing but manna
A dish that is filling but bland
But now we’re on our way, I’ll have a cheese souffle
Because we’re goin’ to the Promised Land
Jesus describes Himself as the bread from Heaven (see John 6:32-35). He is the true Manna. The Israelites’ missed the important of the bread of Heaven because they had their hearts set on “cheese souffles” so to speak. They lost the true meaning of what God was doing:
He was providing for them in a way that had never been done through the miracle of manna.
Later, when the manna ended, I suspect many of them longed for the bread to pour down from Heaven again. In fact, in John 6, this is exactly what the people want (this or more).
The Israelites focused on the Promised Land and forgot the Promised One.
They had been given a relationship with GOD as a gift, but their hearts were all about the milk and honey. They saw the things God could give them and they missed that God had given them the greatest gift of all in Himself.
Without a true relationship with God, or without an awe of this relationship, the desert times will be awfully slow.
Time and time again, the Israelites failed testing because they were in it for the milk and honey, not the communion with God.
Time and time again, they worshiped idols, grumbled and complained about what they didn’t have yet, and did the opposite of what God commanded because their hearts were set on the “pintos and cheese” stuff of life rather than the Living I AM.
They were hit with plagues again and again.
It is so serious to forfeit your relationship with YAHWEH for the gratification of a fleeting pleasure. Any gift put above God is radically insulting in comparison to the gift of God Himself.
Even though God intends to give His people all good gifts (see Romans 8:32), the best Gift, the Gift that changes everything, the one Gift from which you should not be able to bear being parted, the one Gift worth giving up every other gift in the world to have is Jesus Christ.
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32)
The manna that the Israelites’ tossed aside for bird meat and the hopes of milk & honey was a picture of how we, so often and so dangerously, casually toss aside our relationship with Christ for something ‘easy to get’ or for dreams we hope will come about.
The relationship with Christ is here and now. Heaven is off in the future. None of us who believe in Jesus know how long that will be. It could be ten minutes or one hundred years away.
But the relationship with Christ begins the very instant we believe.
“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again.” (John 6:35, NLT)
 I highly recommend Max Lucado’s children DVD, Hermie & Friends: A Fruitcake Christmas, which helped shape this blog
Credit for the song “Promised Land” to Josh and the Big Wall, Veggie Tales.