Numbers 24:1-25:18, Luke 2:1-35, Psalms 59:1-17, Proverbs 11:14
Today is the 16th day of March, welcome to the Daily Audio Bible I’m Brian what a joy it is to be here with you as we get ourselves going into this new week. So, let’s continue our journey. We’re moving our way through the book of Numbers and we’re also just getting moved into the gospel of Luke. So, we’re reading from the Message this week. Numbers chapters 24 and 25 today.
Okay. So, in the book of Numbers we’ve had quite the dramatic story unfolding over the last couple of days. The children of Israel have moved north and there’s been some battles. They’ve been attacked, they’ve been victorious. So, they kind of carved out a little space for them to be in but they’re freaking out their neighbors. And, so, the king of Moab, whose name was Balak…and Moab is modern day…the modern-day country of Jordan, at least the area that we’re talking about in this story. And, so, Balak, he’s already seen what happened and he can kind of get the idea of what might come next for him and his people if these Israelites aren’t stopped. So, he sends a way for this prophetic kind of figure, this person who can bless and curse named Balaam. And from the biblical narrative we see that Balaam hears from God and God tells Balaam when Balak’s people come not to go. And, so, he doesn’t go. And, so, the king Balak sends more…more important people to get Balaam and this time God says you can go with them but only say what I tell you to say. This is a super fascinating story because Balaam does go riding on his donkey that he’s had for years. And this is the time that the donkey veers off the path or the donkey just sits down in the middle of the road or the donkey crushes his foot against a wall and he’s beating the donkey until the donkey speaks to him. “What have I ever done to you? Have I ever done anything to deserve this?” And Balaam’s so mad he’s like, “I would kill you if I had a sword”, which I always every year find funny because it’s like, you’re talking to a donkey. Are you…I mean how do you get so mad that you don’t realize you’re talking to a donkey? So, there’s this interesting thing that’s going on and its bizarre because it’s like all Balaam’s doing is obeying God. Why is an angel of the Lord standing in front of the path with a sword that only the donkey can see? What’s going on here in this story very quickly becomes about how we try to manipulate situations and try to call it God’s will for our lives. So, when Balaam and was first approached to come and curse the Israelites, God spoke to him very clearly, “do not go. Don’t go.” When they came back again, God said, “you can go but only say what I tell you to say.” So, this looks like opportunity for Balaam. God wouldn’t let him go do the job and get paid the first time, but now He’s letting him go, just telling him to only speak what he is told to speak. And so, he’s on his way. And then there’s this incident with the angel and the donkey three times over. When the donkey asks Balaam why he’s being so mean, he reveals his heart, he was embarrassed in front of these important people. So, God is sending Balaam a very strong message. “You might think this is gonna be a big payday. You may think this is gonna be a big moment of honor for you but don’t be seduced. Don’t you dare. Don’t you dare say anything that you aren’t told to say.” And we do this kind of stuff. We’ll ask God for His direction and say, “I only want what you want in my life. I’m tired of all of the messes that I make. I just want to follow the narrow path. Just show me the narrow path.” But we reveal our own hearts and our motivations because there are things that we desire to happen. And when God begins to open those doors we feel like every doors been open and we know the way and we’re just gonna blast through it all, when all God gave Balaam permission to do was go and say what he was told to say. That’s it. So, Balaam gets to Balak and there’s some sacrifices and there’s some viewing of the camp of the Israelites. And Balaam’s got the message at this point and he goes and hears from God that…that Israel is not gonna be cursed. Israel is only gonna be blessed. So, the king Balak’s like, “let’s go to another place and look at them from a different angle”, right? And, so, they do when they make sacrifices and this all happens again. And, so, Balak the king is like. let’s go to another place.” Basically, “let’s keep looking at this from different angles until we get the answer that we’re looking for from God.” And then boom, now we’re in the story, now this is our life too because we have a tendency to do the same thing. We want something and God’s saying, “no.” We wait. We look from a different view. God says, “no.” We wait. We look from a different…we’re just looking for the answer that we want. But Balaam had been severely warned about that. And, so, he blessed Israel. And then we exit that story and it seems like we’ve switched gears because now we’re back in the Israelite camp, and many of the Israelite men were fraternizing with the Midianite women which they were forbidden to do because it was doing exactly what they had been warned against. It was leading them through sex to idolatry, the worship of the false gods of the neighboring countries. And these are the Midianites and not the Moabites so it’s like we’re talking to different…we’re like in it completely different story when apparently, we’re in the same story. Balaam, in the book of Numbers says he’s going home. Like, he can only do what God told him to do. He’s going home. He said that from the from the beginning. What it appears that happened after that is that the king of Moab allied himself with the Midianites and hatched this plan to seduce men away through the Midianite women, which is a heck of seductive plot and it was working. Where did that idea come from? Balaam isn’t that big of a biblical figure, but he shows up again in the book of Revelation in the letter to Pergamum, the church in Pergamum. And, so, I’m quoting from Revelation here, “there are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. So, that appears to be the rest of the story. Balaam only spoke what God told him to speak in terms of blessing and cursing. But it seems that as he’s leaving, he offered a tip. But before we exit the book of Numbers will find out that things didn’t go so well for Balaam after all. He was killed in a battle…a battle with the Midianites. So, there are, you know, it’s a long sprawling story and there are many facets to it and many ways to look at it, that’s the nature of the Bible. But fundamentally, I think this story brings front and center into our own lives, our mixed motives and the ways that we try to play both sides of a story sometimes undetected, and the damage that that can do to those around us when we’re not true and the damage that it can ultimately do to our lives because it’s not wise.
Father we invite You into that because it hits close to home. We all have areas of our lives where we’ve experienced mixed motivations, conflicts in which we try to participate in the light and the darkness at the same time. And although we may be able to keep up the façade for a while it ends badly every time. it’s not true, it’s not wise, it’s not healthy, it’s not godly, it’s not holy. And if there’s one thing that we’re seeing as we move through the Tora, as we move through the law, it’s that You are holy, and You are drawing Your people into holiness. And, so, we ask Your forgiveness for the way we’ve mishandled our motivations and submit our hearts desires to You. Come Holy Spirit, as we go through this day and bring these things up in our lives as we meditate upon the Scriptures today. Show us the areas that we’re playing in too close to the edge, that we’re running along the cliffs edge and we’re gonna fall off. Come Holy Spirit we pray. In the mighty name of Jesus, we ask. Amen.
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