God’s Word for Monday, August 7

Good evening from Liverpool First. Our reading for this Monday, August 7, 2017 is Numbers 22. 8-38.

37 Balak said to Balaam, “Did I not send you and urgent summons? Why didn’t you come to me? Am I not able to reward you?”

38 “Well, I have come to you now, “Balaam replied. “But can I say just anything? I must speak only what God puts in my mouth.”

A study source (gracethrufaith.com) states that  “Balaam, son of Beor was not of the tribes of Israel. He was from Pethor in Aram Naharaim (Deut. 23:4), a place on the Euphrates River in North West Mesopotamia. Balaam was a pagan prophet for hire who was warned by God not to prophesy against the Israelites (Num. 22:9-12).” If this is true then why would God use such a man let alone speak to and through him? We must accept that God speaks through those who do not have a correct faith as well as those who appear to have their theology together. Truth is God’s truth no matter where and through whom it is spoken.

Balak, the king of Moab would have utilized Balaam’s services had God spoken to him or not. Balak was fearful of the Israelites for the success they had over neighboring kingdoms. Being a polytheistic (holding the legitimacy of many gods) and being superstitious Balak believed it wouldn’t hurt his cause to enlist the pagan prophet to curse the invading people of God.

Are the gods of Moab legitimate and have real power? Faith gives power to that which is worshipped and the powers of evil will use any expression of faith to thwart the plans of God. Paul reminds us that our true fight is not against “flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” I dare not say I understand the cosmic struggle between good and evil or begin to comprehend how God can be Lord of all and yet allow angelic beings fall and demons arise to afflict his rule and will. The description of what goes on behind the scenes is not delineated fully but I must accept what is revealed in Scripture and what I know from our human predicament. Faith lends power to what is believed and belief has tangible outcomes.

There is a danger to speculating beyond what is revealed and many have succumbed to emotional extremes venturing on mental illness. There are forces at work behind the physical realities we know with our senses. Balak believed and acted upon his mistaken beliefs as do so many and Balaam proved to have unique gifts which led him to believe the true God of heaven could be defeated. Likewise, the mistaken beliefs of people of faith can lead them to give unnecessary but very real power to the evil forces at work in the world. A lesson learned is to practice faith in God rather than the evil that confronts us. We decide what we place our faith in.

It is curious how God first informs Balaam to first deny the request of Balak’s messenger’s (vs 12) only to turn around another and give permission for him to go with them only to stand in his way to threaten his life. Discerning what God wants from us is difficult I know, but this is truly confusing. God’s decision to warn Balaam was really to confirm his obedience. While Balaam initially obeyed God and would not go with Balak’s ambassadors and curse the Israelites God wanted to demonstrate to Balaam and Balak who was truly in charge. If they recognized God was the only true God they might possibly turn from their corrupt and misguided faith in the gods to embrace faith in Israel’s God.

How appropriate it is that God would speak through an ass (sorry!) because we prove ourselves to be as dumb as one when we misplace our faith and obey the voice of evil and deny God what is rightly do God.

Our salvation comes by listening and obeying the voice of God’s truth. Human evil and sin shall not prevail over God’s people. Evil may win some battles but victory is ultimately within our grasp as God is truly God who will be triumphant.