Numbers 23:13-30 Try Again
Balak tries to get Balaam to curse Israel from a different spot. He was not satisfied with the answer he received even though it was from the Lord.
Why would Balak think that looking down on Israel from a different point of view would change the outcome? He was taking Balaam to places where he could see PART of the people. Their encampment was so great that it stretched quite a distance. So each spot Balak chose only showed part of them. Did Balak think the different views would show different aspects of the people? Maybe they would come across a group that God was displeased with and they could curse them.
Balaam had Balak go through all the motions as before. Seven altars were made and sacrifices offered. Then Balaam went to meet with God. Balaam was given a direct an unambiguous answer to deliver. “God is not man that He should lie or son of man, that He should change His mind. Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not fulfill it?” (verse 19). As Horton the elephant would say, “I meant what I said and I said what I meant.”
God wasn’t playing a game. He wasn’t waiting for them to say the right thing to get Him to switch sides. He was committed to His course of action and nothing they did would change that. The only other option for a different outcome would have been for Balaam to ignore God’s words and speak a curse anyway. But there was NO WAY that was going to happen after the encounter on the journey there. Doing so would also have ruined Balaam’s reputation. The only reason he had been chosen was because he spoke the mind and will of God. Doing any less would have made him a false prophet and a fraud. “Behold, I received a command to bless: He has blessed, and I cannot revoke it” (verse 20).
Balak changed his tune for a moment. “If you won’t curse them at least don’t bless them. Don’t say anything about them.”
I LOVE Balaam’s answer! “I already told you. Whatever the Lord says to do, that is EXACTLY what I will do.” I would add, “You are the one who insisted I come and speak a word over them. If you wanted me to remain quiet you should have left me at home.”
Balak doesn’t give up easily. He wants Balaam to look at Israel from another viewpoint. Maybe this will be the place where God will abandon them. Balaam doesn’t argue the point. He goes along and lets Balak go through all the work again of getting ready to petition God once more. Next time we see God’s ‘Final Answer’ to Balak’s pleas. Of course we already know that answer because of what God already said through Balaam; NO.
This story reminds me of a child begging his parents for something. A lot of children have learned through experience that if they keep begging they usually get their way. I don’t doubt that this was how things work in some political arenas. But that is NOT how God responds. His ‘no’ means ‘NO’ and His ‘yes’ means ‘YES’. He doesn’t change His mind. If He gives you an unequivocal answer don’t expect Him to reverse it later on.
But ‘yes’ and ‘no’ are not the only answers God gives. Sometimes He says ‘not yet’ instead. That answer comes with conditions. Sometimes the conditions are that the asker needs to do a bit of spiritual growing first before He will say yes. Sometimes it is not time yet for the promise to be fulfilled. That was happening with the Israelites inhabiting the Promised Land right now. Both of the reasons just mentioned came into play with that promise. Sometimes God is waiting on other people to finish their part of the process before He is ready to complete your request. And sometimes He is waiting for us to modify our request so it actually lines up with His will.
To change a ‘not yet’ to a ‘yes’ takes listening to His answer and asking what you can do to help with the process. There is NO changing a NO answer and trying to do so will only get you into trouble. My children learned this lesson early on. Unfortunately some children never learn it because their parents neglect to teach it.
Father God thank You for saying ‘no’ sometimes. Thank You for saying ‘yes’ too. Thanks also for the opportunities that the ‘not yet’ brings. I pray I know the difference. I trust You to tell me clearly when it matters most. Help me learn the lesson Balak didn’t of not persisting when I’m given a firm answer.
Help me also to listen to the whole answer before running off. I need to know all of it. Even the ‘no’ comes with information I need. Only by truly listening will I grow and learn to see what You value and bring requests that line up with them so I can have ‘yes’ answers too. Thank You too that the ‘no’ answers form my firm boundaries. I need those in my life to help me grow and stay safe.