Every once in a while I would splurge on that girl of mine and buy her a pomegranate at the grocery store. In Montana these are a rare and evidently precious fruit, based on the price –a special treat on occasion.
But in Israel? I could not stop staring at an entire fridge packed with pomegranates, at a restaurant where we stopped for lunch. There were pomegranates everywhere we went, like it was no big thing.
Israel does Pomegranates the way Washington does apples.
And can we talk about the olive trees? They were ripe for harvest just about the time the preacher and I were visiting, and we had to watch our steps at the kibbutz where we were staying, because there were olives dropped and smooshed on the ground around many of the paths.
Can you picture the mommas in Israel? “You take those shoes off before you come in the house, young man. Don’t you be tracking that olive oil on my clean floor.”
And the bread vendors. I may weep just talking about it. Kiosks with mounds of fresh round breads, pita breads, pastries… Jesus walked these streets and then chose to call himself the “bread of life.” I cannot think of a more compelling reason to follow him than this.
There were also palm trees everywhere. Do you know what grows on them? Not pineapples but dates, and from these dates is made honey. Date honey –who knew there even was such a thing?
One more thing was a surprise to me in Israel: everything is stone. I was coming from the land of forests and log homes, so how interesting to see entire streets paved with stones. Buildings made all of stone. Archeological digs uncovering layers of stone buildings.
“Look,” our guide said, as we toured some ruins at Megiddo, “some mangers for horses.”
A stone manger for animals to drink out of? Well of course. (I’m going to have to re-imagine my nativity scene this year.)
Our trip to Israel was like a traveling, on-site college class. We were sitting in front of an ancient olive press one evening, and our teacher for the day was talking to us about the blessings promised to the Israelites of the promised land, and I was like, “Wait. What?” From Sunday School growing up I remembered that Israel was the land of milk and honey.
But pomegranates? No offense to my Sunday school teachers, but I do not ever remember hearing about pomegranates. I didn’t remember about the abundance of bread or olive oil either. Or maybe I was just a kid, and now that I’m a mom and a cook I care more about those details.
God was telling his people what was waiting for them when they entered his land. They had no idea. They were going to be newbies to the land of Israel, too.
But God knew exactly the lay of the land that was waiting for them.
For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land –a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills. (Deuteronomy 8:8-9 NIV)
I can imagine those first days when God’s people scoped out a homestead and realized there would be no more making bricks like in Egypt. Just grab a chisel and build hearty structures out of the stones of the land. And how about a fresh-squeezed pomegranate juice when you stop to take a break?
Everything was just like God had said it would be.
This has to change how we pray about decisions or anything future. God brings his people. He is bringing us into places he has already toured. We squirm at the idea of admitting we know absolutely nothing about what’s ahead of us, but, with a guide this knowledgeable, we can rest easy in taking steps forward every day. So we can pray, Lord, you know exactly where you’re bringing me, in full detail. Just show me how to get there.