The God of milk and honey versus the god of money


This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series A land flowing with milk and honey

This is a follow-up to What’s the importance of a “land flowing with milk and honey”?  It will look at and compare what we learned there with the current state of things in the U.S. (and probably other countries) as far as what the “god of money” is doing to milk and honey – by looking at what the almighty dollar (in U.S.) is doing to cows and bees.

In the image to the right, we can barely see the milk, and the honey is beginning to be overtaken by the money.  That’s giving you one huge clue as to what’s happening.  In What’s the importance of a “land flowing with milk and honey”? we saw how there was a trust in God required to actually reach that land flowing with milk and honey – not to mention all the other things “flowing with milk and honey” actually stood for.  In this follow-up, well – let’s see what happens.

If you haven’t read the first article yet, I highly recommend doing that, and then return here.

As with part 1, let’s look at milk first.  In both Biblical times and today, milk is recognized as something that’s important for people of all ages (except for the caveats for those whose bodies can’t process milk).  We saw examples from Exodus, where in spite of the promises made by God about delivering the Israelites to a land flowing with milk and honey – a severe lack of trust in God caused problems for them.

Today, here in the U.S., we live in a land flowing with milk and honey.  However – an ever-growing disparity between the haves and the have-nots is turning more and more things into luxuries that more and more people can’t afford.  

Milk

We’re also producing more and more milk substitutes, although they aren’t recommended for babies and toddlers under three years old, as we see in the table below from the non-profit British Columbia, Canada dairy industry website bcdairy.ca.

Suitable for 1-2 year old toddlerNot suitable for 1-2 year old toddler
Whole pasteurized cow’s milk Almond beverage
Whole, pasteurized goat’s milk fortified with vitamin D and folic acid Soy beverage
Coconut beverage
Rice beverage
Hemp beverage
Other plant-based beverages
milk substitutes for toddlers

It seems that we don’t value milk the way the people did in Biblical times.  That may or may not be a good thing.  Either way, it’s not the point I’m trying to address.  That would bring up arguments that take away from what I’m trying to say.  For instance, if many people preferred a hemp beverage to milk, then we’d probably get into an emphasis on the pluses and minuses of all things hemp.  I’m not endorsing it, but in this case, I don’t want to go there.  My point in bringing this up is that our changing attitudes towards milk affect the way we look at it when we read that God promised a land flowing with milk and honey.  Maybe today, we’d prefer a land flowing with hemp and honey – so when we hear about milk and honey, it’s like, “who cares”?  That wasn’t the attitude back in the days of the exodus.

For those that still think milk is important – including people like me that don’t care for milk but care a lot about ice cream, butter, and cheese – here’s something I do want to get into.  It’s from an article called The Fight for America’s Disappearing Ancient Dairy Cows.  I imagine it’s happening in other countries as well, so it’s likely a problem in more places than just here in the U.S.

What we need to remember in this discussion is the first thing that happened on the sixth “day” 1)if you’d like to see why day is in quotes, why a day isn’t really a day, see this.  Scroll down to “What is a “day”?” if you don’t want to read the whole thing. of creation –

Ge 1:24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

So God made different kinds of livestock, and it was good.  And then the fall came.  And then, as we learn more and more – we think we’re better and better – and then we can reach the point where we’re in a situation like the one below –

Ge 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

Ge 3:2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ”

Ge 3:4 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Ge 3:6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

But too often, the only thing we really remember from that exchange between the serpent and Eve is the part about when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God.  And so we want to play god.  And we do things like this to our dairy cows, as it says in the previously mentioned article –

Crossing the vast network of American roadways, drivers pass through fields of corn, soy, and wheat. They see power lines, roadside World’s Largests, kitschy diners—and cows. About 9 million dairy cows occupy the nation’s rural landscape, and of those, 94 percent are the familiar black-and-white Holsteins, a breed so archetypal that even the cow emoji is a Holstein.

Doesn’t sound so bad does it?  That’s a lot of cows.  Back in the late 1960s I lived, literally, in the middle of a bunch of dairy farms.  The town had more cows than people.  Just before thanksgiving it had over 100,000 turkeys too – but that’s just some side trivia.  Anyway – every single one of those cows was a Holstein.  There were lots of little farms, so it seemed like the cows roamed everywhere, but the reality was that they weren’t that far from a barn, since they had to be milked twice a day.  Hang on to that little piece of info – that they could wander around in the fields, because even that small “luxury” for the cows is also going away.

At any rate – 94% of the cows in the country being Holstein’s, which produce lots and lots of milk, seems like a really good thing.  Like it’s a land flowing with milk.  

And then we read the next line –

(To the stage director: Queue the ominous sounding music)

But this wasn’t always the case.

Again – it doesn’t sound bad (except for that ominous music playing in the background.)

The article continues –

When cattle first became a part of American agriculture, New World colonists raised rugged cows of diverse stock. Some were native to North America, others brought from Europe, but all were dual- or tri-purpose breeds—good for milk, meat, and draft power.

Did you catch the parts about “when cattle first became a part” … and all the different things they were good for?

(To the stage director: The music gets darker)

Unlike today’s cows, who are often cornfed and heavily medicated in vast indoor feeding facilities, these “heritage” cows were scrappy, able to thrive outside on unmanaged grasses. To this day, heritage cattle are naturally disease-resistant, produce offspring without human intervention, and can be milked well into their teen years.

Sounds like a mix of good and bad (but pay attention to the music to see what’s really happening.)

(To the stage director: The music reaches a crescendo)

And they’re slowly going extinct.

(To the stage director: Silence the music abruptly and go immediately to black)

Oops.

If you’re interested, the article continues with a very interesting and scary history and potential future for the cows.  The bottom line though, the more we rely on one source for milk, rather the the multiple sources that we previously had, because they were created by God – we have pretty much total reliance on one breed of cow.  Should global warming continue to get worse, or should some drug resistant disease come along – or other possibilities – we’d be in a land with little to no milk, rather than one flowing with milk.  Instead of milk being a word that indicated abundance, as it did in Biblical times, it would merely bring up memories of days gone by, when there used to be abundance.  

My point here though – is about what could have been.

But – before we get there, let’s look at honey.

Honey

Just as looking at milk led us to investigate cows, looking at honey means we need to look at bees.  For that, we turn to a Voice of America article titled Study Finds Mixed News About Bee Populations.  It’s not one of my usual sources, but many sources were either talking total gloom – or a sudden reversal in 2017 and things are looking good.  This one seemed to have a more balanced approach.

The VOA article starts like this –

There’s a glimmer of hope for the American bee population. But, according to a new study, the outlook for this critical insect is mostly grim. Researchers report a slowing of the rate of decline in the bee population over the past year, dropping to its lowest since 2011-2012.

But, both commercial and small-scale beekeepers lost 33 percent of their honey bee colonies between April 2016 and April 2017.

“While it is encouraging that losses are lower than in the past, I would stop short of calling this ‘good’ news,” said Dennis van Engelsdorp, an assistant professor of entomology at the University of Maryland and project director for the Bee Informed Partnership, in a summary of the study.

“Colony loss of more than 30 percent over the entire year is high,” he added. “It’s hard to imagine any other agricultural sector being able to stay in business with such consistently high losses.”

The Bee Informed Partnership study that is referenced says, in part –

The survey is part of a larger research effort to understand why honey bee colonies are in such poor health, and what can be done to manage the situation. Some crops, such as almonds, depend entirely on honey bees for pollination. Honey bees pollinate an estimated $15 billion worth of crops in the U.S. annually.

This brings up another point from the Old Testament.  In part 1 of this 3-part topic, we saw that honey was associated with both abundance and sustenance.  Sustenance meant more than just living on honey alone, since it was pointed out that honey wasn’t to be eaten in large quantities.  In fact there’s a proverb about doing that –

Pr 25:16 If you find honey, eat just enough—
too much of it, and you will vomit.

While there are quite a number of side effects from eating too much honey, vomiting is on the warnings list from the Mayo Clinic

Honey may cause abnormal or absent heart rhythms, blurred vision, changes in taste, changes in white blood cell count, chest pain, diarrhea, double vision, drowsiness, faintness, fatigue, feeling of burning or tingling on the skin, fever, heart attack, honey intoxication (sweating or weakness when honey produced from Rhododendron plants is used), hyperactivity, impaired consciousness, increased saliva, lung problems, mild paralysis, musculoskeletal problems, minor scarring, nausea, nervousness, pain, seizures, sleep problems, sweating, tooth decay, upset stomach, urinary tract infections, vomiting, weight loss, and wound dryness or infection.

Getting back to sustenance then, let’s look at another possible meaning attached to honey and bees – everything that comes from them.  For that, we go to an excerpt from an article by the Natural Resource Defense Council called Why We Need Bees: Nature’s Tiny Workers Put Food on Our Tables

Many people think of bees simply as a summertime nuisance. But these small and hard-working insects actually make it possible for many of your favorite foods to reach your table. From apples to almonds to the pumpkin in our pumpkin pies, we have bees to thank. Now, a condition known as Colony Collapse Disorder is causing bee populations to plummet, which means these foods are also at risk. In the United States alone, more than 25 percent of the managed honey bee population has disappeared since 1990.

Bees are one of a myriad of other animals, including birds, bats, beetles, and butterflies, called pollinators. Pollinators transfer pollen and seeds from one flower to another, fertilizing the plant so it can grow and produce food. Cross-pollination helps at least 30 percent of the world’s crops and 90 percent of our wild plants to thrive. Without bees to spread seeds, many plants—including food crops—would die off.

That’s not good, as it affect sustenance of many different kinds.  The NDRC lists four things that are believed to be major contributors to Colony Collapse Disorder – global warming, pesticides, habitat loss, and parasites.

These things, and others, are messing with what God created with an intent to provide us an abundance of good things.  No bees means a great decrease, or possibly the disappearance of, many of the foods we eat.  

(It’s a good thing we had the stage director leave the lights off and the music quiet.  This isn’t looking good for us.)

The god of money

So, what’s driving us to keep going towards wiping out our God-given strong cows and our God-given bees that are responsible for so much of what we eat?

For the answer, we need to go back to the exodus again.  No surprise there – at least I’d hope not.

Ex 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me.”

But we do have other gods before God.

Earlier, I wrote – My point here though – is about what could have been.

So let’s look at what could have been.

Regardless of what many would like to say today, there was a time when religion was very important in this country.  Having lived back east when I was younger, I can tell you that the number of old churches and the reality that many early universities originally had religious foundations are clear indications of the importance of religion back then.  The evidence is there – and cannot be disputed.  While people “back home” in Europe may have had other ideas, like gaining more land for King or Queen – the people who actually came over here did so for religious freedom.  And they had it.  And, the land prospered.  It was very much a land flowing with milk and honey, in the Biblical sense.

But now – religion is being undermined by the very universities that had been previously started by religious institutions.  Increasingly, the people who were in control over here were more interested in the god of money than the God of the Bible.  Now – even a former president says we’re not a Christian nation.  And while statistics and surveys say we still are, the details behind those numbers certainly raise a question as to whether Jesus would consider us a Christian nation.  I’m putting the information together, and will be coming out with an analysis of the numbers behind the latest American Bible Society report – State of the Bible 2017.  They make the statistics sound good – based on the labels they use, but the actual numbers behind the labels don’t seem good at all.

Conclusion?

Increasingly, with the god of money taking over.  We are killing off the physical bees, and therefore the physical honey.  We are also putting the physical cows, and therefore the physical milk, in danger.  Because of our increasing preference for the god of money over the God of the Bible, we are also destroying the things that are behind the deeper meaning of a land flowing with milk and honey.  Because of the god of money, we are willing to destroy the wonderful things given to us in the beginning – during creation – those things that sustain life and make it good.  The things that used to make the U.S. a land flowing with milk and honey, but seem to be going in the direction of stopping the flow.  No God of the Bible.  No cows.  No bees.  No milk. No honey.  No abundant life.  No life?

Will we reverse this?

Or will we continue down the path we’re currently on?

Series Navigation<< What’s the importance of a “land flowing with milk and honey”?Take a stand! >>

References   [ + ]

1. if you’d like to see why day is in quotes, why a day isn’t really a day, see this.  Scroll down to “What is a “day”?” if you don’t want to read the whole thing.

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