|Photo by AndonicO 2006|
Saturday, August 18, 2018
Although our physically demanding dance ministry demands that I pursue a healthy lifestyle overall, and particularly a healthy diet, I must confess that I love sweets. As my husband and dance partner likes to point out, “She never met a dessert she didn’t like.”
To which I often reply, “Just hand over my ‘medicinal’ chocolate, and no one will get hurt!”
One of my favorite desserts is Tres Leches, a delectable Mexican concoction so named because its recipe calls for three milks, namely evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream. The end result is a sponge cake layered in custard, drenched in sauce redolent of caramel, and topped with whipped cream.
This unique confection got me thinking about symbolism involving milk in Scripture, and I realized that it can involve God’s creation, God’s provision, and God’s Word, consistent with the pattern of threes echoing the Trinity reflected throughout the Bible.
In the midst of his suffering, Job imagines a conversation he would like to have with God, and he asks for God’s mercy on His own creation. He poetically compares God’s creation of man to sculpting a masterpiece from clay, curdling cheese from milk, and clothing him in flesh and skin supported by bones and sinews (Job 10:8-11).
The process of curdling cheese from milk may symbolize seminal fluid entering the womb, and, at conception, beginning a process in which the developing embryo and fetus become progressively solidified, albeit containing fluid within blood vessels, brain ventricles, and lymph vessels. It is unlikely that Job understood this completely, yet by inspiration of the Holy Spirit he wrote a beautiful metaphor describing prenatal development, a process totally governed by God (Psalm 139:13-16).
Milk as a symbol of God’s provision is abundant in references to the Promised Land He offered to His children as a land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 3:8, 17; 13:5, 33:3, etc.). God promises that if we work diligently, He will bless us with goat’s milk, referring generally to the food He provides, to meet our own needs and those of our family and employees (Proverbs 27:27).
In the Song of Solomon, the love between a man and his wife, which is also a symbol of the love Jesus Christ the Bridegroom has for His bride, the church, is portrayed three times using milk as a symbol of delight, purity and beauty. He praises His beloved, for her lips “drop as the honeycomb: honey and milk are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon (4:11).”
He further describes his delight in their union as “I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk“(5:1). In return, the beloved spouse praises her Bridegroom, for "His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set (5:12).”
Jesus Christ, Who is the Living Water, promised us that once we know Him, we will never thirst again (John 4:10-14). The prophet Isaiah foretold this and promised that God offers not only water to all who thirst, but also milk and wine offered freely at no cost (Isaiah 55:1), for we cannot buy or earn our own salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9). Rather, it is only by trusting in Christ’s completed work on the cross to pay for our sins, in His burial and in His resurrection proving that He is God, that we can be saved and have eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
Isaiah also prophesied that God would bless Israel so richly that her breasts would nourish not only her own people, but also all nations and even Gentiles (Isaiah 66:10-13). This has been fulfilled in part through the birth of Jesus in Israel (Luke 2) and will be fulfilled completely when Christ returns and rules in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 3:12; 21:2). The prophet Joel describes the blessings of the New Jerusalem as “the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters” (Joel 3:18).
God is honored when we give a portion of His blessings back to Him as an offering, so it is appropriate that Abraham offered a feast of milk and butter, and a calf representing their earthly source, to God and two angels who visited him in human form (Genesis 18:8).
Just as God created us and provides for all our physical needs, He also satisfies our soul with spiritual blessings. He communicates with us, leads us, and nourishes us primarily through His Word. Newborn infants receive nourishment exclusively from the perfect food of their mother’s milk, or from infant formula, whereas babes in Christ grow spiritually from the sincere milk of the Word, meaning fundamental passages explaining salvation (1 Peter 2:2).
But as we grow physically, our diet becomes more varied and comprehensive, including meat once we are able to digest it. Similarly, as Christians growing in our walk with Christ, we need to supplement our spiritual diet with all Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16), including the “strong meat” that is more difficult to assimilate (1 Corinthians 3:2; Hebrews 5:12-13) yet is essential to our strength and vitality as Christ’s ministers (1 Corinthians 4:1), fellow-laborers (1 Corinthians 3:9) and ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) doing His work in this lost, sinful and dying world (John 17).
Still, we should never lose our taste for the milk of the Word, and we should never tire of hearing the Gospel message. Even after a hearty steak dinner, I can always find room for the sweet, rich, satisfying experience of Tres Leches. May we always taste and see that the Lord is good! (Psalm 34:8)
© 2018 Laurie Collett