And they told him, and said, We came to the land where you sent us, and surely it flows with milk and honey…
The idea suggested is, that the true disciples of the Lord Jesus are expected to show to the world some illustration of the nature of the heavenly country to which they are journeying. In a sense they have been there, and have come back. But in what sense?
1. The idea with many persons is, that the future condition of man is so completely different from this, that it is out of the question to attempt to form a conception of it. Now, it is true, St. Paul tells us, "that eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him." But it is also true, as the apostle goes on to say, that " God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit." Some people, then, are in a position to understand what the heavenly kingdom is like. They have true ideas about it — foretastes. In fact, "heaven" is really the expansion of a life begun here below. "He that hath the Son hath life."
2. What, then, has the true disciple to show as specimens of the produce of this unseen and unknown country? Briefly, the character of Christ reproduced in him, by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is faintly, imperfectly reproduced; still it is reproduced (see 2 Corinthians 1:21, "Hath Christed us"). There is the strength which overcometh the world, the peace which passeth understanding, the blessedness of communion with God, the soul-thirst for God ever renewed and ever satisfied.
3. It is by the presentation of these fruits of the land that souls are won. No doubt there are some persons in the world to whom Christ and everything belonging to Christ, are only repulsive; and these will scrutinise the disciple with an unfriendly eye, and rejoice if ever they find, or fancy they find, any inconsistency in his conduct. But there are also many others of a different temper. They are halting between two opinions. They say, not of course in words, but by their feelings and manner, "Be Christ to us; let us see in you and through you what the Divine Master is, and how He will treat us if we venture to apply to Him" — or, to express it differently, "Show us the fruits of the heavenly land, of which you think so much and speak so much. You are amongst us as a citizen of the heavenly city (Philippians 3:20). Enable us to gather from your conduct what are the characteristics of that noble land, of that bright and glorious companionship."
4. And lastly, what is the practical conclusion to be drawn from the whole subject thus discussed? Surely it is this — that we, who profess to serve the Lord Jesus Christ, should be careful to recognise the responsibility laid upon us to give a good report, like Caleb and Joshua, and not a bad report, like the ten other spies, of the unseen land. We shall give a bad report if our lives are not attractive, and are not consistent. We shall give a good report if our characters glow, even feebly, with the inner light of the life of Christ; and if, by deed as well as by word, we cry, " The conflict may be a formidable one, but it is not too formidable"; and if we trust as we should do, and may do, that we shall be more than conquerors through Him that loved us.
(G. Calthrop, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it.