It was on this day, in 1955, that the Yarkon water project was opened. This project supplied water to the Negev, which is a desert region in southern Israel. Since 1948, the Israeli people have worked very hard to transform what was a vast wasteland into a veritable garden spot capable of feeding its citizens as well as exporting food to other nations of the world. All over Israel, places that once were barren are now producing massive quantities of fruit and vegetables. Actually, we shouldn’t expect anything less from a place the Creator referred to as a “land flowing with milk and honey.” However, it wasn’t that long ago that this outcome would have seemed impossible. When visiting the Holy Land in 1867, Mark Twain said of the land:
“It is a desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds … a silent mournful expanse…. We never saw a human being on the whole route and hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.” (The Innocents Abroad, pp. 361-362)
Twain’s account doesn’t sound very flattering for a land God described as “flowing with milk and honey.” Still, he did make mention of the fact that the soil was rich and that is an important observation. Like Twain, I am convinced that something is in the soil. There is something special in the dirt that seems to come to life when the right people are in the land.
Scripture teaches that when Israel walked in obedience, the land He gave them produced its fruit in the proper season. If they didn’t walk in obedience, the land would fail to produce anything. In other words, the land responded to the fruit they produced in their lives. If they produced good fruit, the land would produce good fruit. If they weren’t producing good fruit, the land would respond accordingly. It’s also clear from Scripture that when the inhabitants of the land were people who did not recognize the God of Israel as God, the land would become desolate. So it would seem that the land of Israel is a place that requires the right people to be there and that they walk according to God’s ways if it is to flourish; otherwise, it becomes desolate. Based on this observation, it would seem that the something in the soil has a spiritual connotation.
As we said, today, the land is being transformed by hard work and the brilliant utilization of advanced technologies. But we also believe this transformation has a spiritual component, as well, which explains the something in the soil. And even though we see this transformation taking place, according to prophecy, the abundance of the land has not yet come to fruition. Isaiah said that the land, specifically the desert and dry places, would rejoice and blossom as the rose (Isaiah 35:1-2). Ezekiel also addresses this, revealing that it is the Creator who brings about this radical transformation of the land of Israel because it is His will for His people:
The desolate land shall be tilled instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass by. So they will say, “This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden; and the wasted, desolate, and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited.” Then the nations which are left all around you shall know that I, the Lord, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted what was desolate. I, the Lord, have spoken it and I will do it. (Ezekiel 36:34-36)
Now consider that all of us are made from the dust of the earth and that God has infused us with the breath of life, meaning that there is something in this dust, too. We are designed in such a way that when we walk in obedience, our lives produce good fruit. The opposite is true as well; when we go our own way and do our own thing, the fruit we bear is grief, sickness and, ultimately, death. In other words, our bodies and our circumstances respond to what we choose to do and if we choose to sow to the flesh, we will reap the appropriate outcome. The only way to reverse this desolate outcome is to be born again and be rejuvenated by the Incorruptible Seed, the Messiah. When we receive Him, we are given the power and right to become the sons of God. We are transformed from the desolate beings that we once were into the image of the Son of God, now able to produce good fruit in abundance. This is, in fact, how the Father in heaven in glorified.
“By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples.” (John 15:8)
Our body, made from the dust of the earth, has something in it – a spirit that comes from God. When the Incorruptible Seed is sown into good ground, we are transformed from desolation into fruitfulness, consequently, bringing glory unto our Father. Our lives do not have to remain desolate and dry; we can become a person who is alive and thriving. When we give ourselves over to His Will, we are like the tree planted by the waters; when we function according to His design and walk according to His instructions, we will indeed bear much fruit. And like the land of Israel, the fruit in our lives will become so abundant and so apparent that people will marvel at it and conclude that what once was desolate has become like a garden.
May we continue to be transformed into the image of the Son of God that we might become a source of fruitfulness for others. Let us hold fast to Him that we may be as a tree, planted by the life-giving waters of His Word, so that our fruit will produce in season and that our leaf will not wither.