Numbers 23:13-30 Try Again

Maybe Balaam should have asked Balak this. 

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. Read more »

Numbers 23:1-12 Not A Curse

“That’s NOT what I brought you here to do!”

Balaam speaks the first of several times for the Lord. But what he speaks is NOT the curse Balak brought him here to pronounce.

Balaam learned his lesson well with the donkey. When he met Balaam in person he emphasized that lesson. “The word that God puts in my mouth, that must I speak” (verse 38b). In other words, he wasn’t going to say ANYTHING, good or bad, that didn’t come directly from God.

The first order of business was to prepare the group seeking God’s word. That included erecting altars and making sacrifices. I’m not sure if these sacrifices were to atone for the sins of those erecting them or to try and get on God’s good side. Balaam was the one who ordered it. He was not about to use the altars Balak had already set up for some other god.

Balaam went to meet with God so he could deliver God’s message to Balak. Balaam must have known the tone of the message before even going because of the answer he received at home and the events on the road. Balaam made a showing of good faith for Balak by going to seek God’s words. He could have said that he wasn’t going because he was already given his answer but he went through the motions.

The answer God gives Balak is not quietly written down and handed to Balak to save face for him. Balaam speaks it loud and clear in the presence of all the princes of Moab. Everyone heard God’s words. They were NOT a curse but a blessing instead. “How can I curse whom God has not cursed? How can I denounce whom the Lord has not denounced?” (verse 8) and “Let me die the death of the upright, and let my end be like his!” (verse 10b).

Even with all their grumbling and rebellion God remained true to His people. Even though He wanted to wipe them from the face of the earth on several occasions, they were HIS. He would not abandon them. He refused to turn His back on them. He STILL had plans for them. Miles to go and promises to keep.

Balak recognized the words that Balaam spoke for what they were; a blessing instead of a curse. “Why didn’t you do as I asked? I asked you to curse them and all you did was BLESS them!”

Balaam’s reply was simple, direct and truthful. “I have to be careful and ONLY say what God tells me to.”

Father God, I would LOVE to be able to make that statement about my own life. I know things have passed my lips that wouldn’t pass this test. I’m sure there were times in Balaam’s life where he didn’t have to speak Your words but every time he was asked to Give YOUR answers that is what he did. He took no thought for his own life in this situation. He didn’t change Your answers to protect his own skin. Please let me be more like him. Let me speak the truth in love, regardless of what might happen as a result. And remind me DAILY to come to You for those words.

Numbers 22:22-41 Talking Donkey

Sometimes things NOT going your way is God’s way of getting your attention.

God told Balaam that he could go with the emissaries but he has to still listen to Him. Balaam gets a GREAT lesson in listening through his donkey.

I have always loved this story because it made me laugh. I especially love the part where Balaam was talking to his donkey and didn’t even think about what he was doing. He was so wrapped up in his anger that it didn’t register on him that he was holding a conversation with an animal. I want to take this old familiar story and see where the Holy Spirit takes us with it today.

The first thing that smacked me in the face is the fact that God was angry with Balaam for going. “But the God’s anger was kindled because he went” (verse 22a). WHY!? God told him to go just a few verses before. “And God came to Balaam at night and said to him, ‘If the men have come to call you, rise, go with them; but only do what I tell you’” (verse 20). Read more »

Numbers 22:1-21 Persuasion

The powers of persuasion were NOT working like Balak hoped.

Moab has taken notice of what Israel has done and they are trembling with fear. They seek an alliance and help from above.

I don’t know how large the camp of Israel was at this time. When they left Egypt they had more than 600,000 men over the age of 20 IN THE TRIBES. This does not take into account the women, children and foreigners in their group. A conservative estimate I read said there were about 3,000,000 souls that left Egypt. That’s a BIG footprint!

But these numbers have been reduced. We have had several incidents where there were a number of deaths. Korah’s rebellion took out a specific group of families and their supporters. The following day God took out many more who complained about His Read more »

Numbers 21:21-30 King Sihon

When God fights on your side it doesn’t matter the size of the other guys.

Israel is once again confronted with a roadblock in their journey. They ask permission to pass through but are turned down again. Things go different from that point on.

Israel had asked to pass through the territory of Edom earlier. These people were Esau’s decedents. But they were refused passage. They were even confronted with an armed force ready to do battle if they breached the perimeter. Israel turned away from this force. They decided not to fight their relatives.

In today’s reading Israel asks to pass through another territory but this time the inhabitants are not related to them. They receive the same answer and the same response. An armed force met them at the border but this time Israel didn’t turn away. They pushed through and defeated those marshaled against them. GOD gave them the victory.

Two things about this encounter surprised me when reading our text. The first was that this battle acted as judgement for what the king of Sihon had done to his neighbors earlier. The second is what Israel does after winning this battle.

King Sihon had taken the territory he held from his neighbor, Moab, earlier on. We are told of this event from the Book of Wars of the Lord that was mentioned when we saw Israel’s travels. I don’t know how much of that region’s history was contained in the mentioned manuscript. I would hazard a guess as to all of Israel’s battles being recorded there. The ballad that we are shown today is from that first battle where king Sihon overcame the king of Moab and took the territory. You could say that Israel’s victory was a just punishment for king Sihon.

The second thing blew my socks off! I was always taught that Israel camped in the wilderness for 40 years and pretty much kept going around in circles. Today I see that they SETTLED in the cities that they had just wrested back from the hands of king Sihon. They got the use of the cities including homes, shops, and crop lands; or this is how I read it anyway.

I have several questions here. How long into the 40 years was this? Did they leave their tents for the homes or were they told to remain out of the houses? Why did God continue to provide them with mana when they now had access to fields for crops? Did the people want to remain in this land forever? Did they continue to use the camp format God had given them?

We will see in our next reading that Israel didn’t settle for good. They kept on pursuing God’s campaign. He would have them engaging in many more battles before even crossing into the Promised Land.

Father God the thing I see the most in Your Spirit sharing this with us is that You HAVE a plan in mind. Sometimes it takes more turns to get through them but You always manage to bring You intended end anyway. I have a feeling it would be better all the way around if I simply quit fighting against them. That’s my plan Lord, to stop fighting what You have for me.