The LORD was angry with Balaam for going (Numbers 22:22). Some say that God gave Balaam permission to go, but was angry with Balaam’s underlying motives. Others say that Balaam disobeyed God’s condition given in:
Numbers 22:20a (NKJV) “And God came to Balaam at night and said to him, ‘If the men come to call you, rise and go with them…”
The word “IF” is a big word. We don’t read of the men coming to call Balaam, but only what appears to be Balaam eagerly rising and going with them.
So the LORD sent His Angel with a drawn sword in His hand. God allowed the donkey to see the Angel, which made for a bumpy ride. Balaam beat the donkey down; he would have killed it if he could, but the LORD opened the mouth of the donkey and the donkey reasoned with Balaam.
As a quick side-note, this is fascinating to me. Will animals be able to talk in heaven? I’m not sure but I think of the Chronicles of Narnia.
The LORD eventually opens the eyes of Balaam who sees the Angel with His drawn sword – and Balaam falls flat on his face. Balaam acknowledges his sin, and is willing to go back, but he’d already gone too far. The LORD allowed Balaam to go under certain conditions. We read in:
Numbers 22:35 (NKJV) “Then the Angel of the LORD said to Balaam, ‘Go with the men, but only the word that I speak to you, that you shall speak.’ So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.”
God is able to use seriously marred men, in sinful situations to send His message and accomplish His purposes. But woe to those men! Jesus said in:
Matthew 7:22-23 (NKJV) “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”
Balak, King of Moab had hired Balaam with a hefty honorarium (Numbers 22:37) to curse the people of Israel. Balaam lets the king know that he can only say what God puts in his mouth.
In spite of the man (not in light of the man) the prophecies Balaam speaks over the people of God are beautiful. Balaam gets Word from the LORD and reveals the fact that he cannot curse, the people whom God has blessed – and – you can’t reverse the curse (Numbers 23:8, 20). Balaam reveals that God is not like us, He doesn’t lie or change His mind (Numbers 23:19).
One of my favorite passages in the Bible is:
Numbers 23:21 (NKJV) “He has not observed iniquity in Jacob, nor has He seen wickedness in Israel. The LORD his God is with him, and the shout of a King is among them.”
These words are amazing to me. God has not seen iniquity in Jacob? Wait a minute, time out, we’ve been studying the carnal activities of this wicked nation ever since their exit from Egypt and wandering in the wilderness, how can God not see their sin? The answer? They’re a forgiven people. Wow! The same is true for us as Christians. When God views us in that positional sense, He sees no sin, only the righteousness of Christ.
Balaam is a mysterious Old Testament figure mentioned also in the New Testament (2 Peter 2:15; Jude 11; Revelation 2:14) as having loved the wages of unrighteousness, and who put a stumbling block before the nation of Israel. He was a prophet for profit, even though his prophecies came true. God knows the motives of every minister and even though they might be used and have their moments of spiritual ecstasy, one day we will all stand before God and give an account.
There may have been a part of Balaam that wanted to die the death of the righteous (Numbers 23:10). But there was another part of his heart that loved money more. In the end, Balaam died at the edge of God’s sword (Numbers 31:8).
The salvation of the world was now set in motion, here in human history, through the birth of two babies, and two unlikely couples.
Zacharias had been mute for close to nine months, which gave him plenty of time to listen, and pray. When it was time to name his son, he was able to name him John according to the direction of the angel Gabriel (Luke 1:13), in spite of family pressure to the contrary. John means “Yahweh is gracious” or “Yahweh is a gracious giver.” John would be the forerunner to God’s ultimate and infinite expression of grace.
When Zacharias was finally able to speak, his words ended up in the Bible as beautiful expressions of God fulfilling His Word to His people – to visit them, to redeem them, to save them from their enemies. John the Baptist would go “before” Jesus, in order to prepare the people, to ready their hearts for the coming of their Messiah.
John the Baptist performed no miracles, but he would be a bold messenger clearly recognized by the general public as the prophet of the Highest. I’ve always loved his ministry because he was simply a point-man, pointing others to Jesus Christ.
Warren Wiersbe, “In words that may seem unchristian to us, David denounced the unjust rulers of his day, people who promoted evil by condemning the righteous and defending the wicked. In a prayer that would probably not be “Amened” in churches today, he asked God to judge sinners and establish righteousness on the earth.”
It’s amazing to me how some so easily speak lies, buy lies, and even live lies. At the same time these people are deaf, not open to God, even though He hopes to win them with His love.
It’s also amazing to read David’s imprecatory prayers. I suppose David is just being honest with God in how he feels, but Jesus teaches us to actually pray for our enemies.
Matthew 5:43-44 (NKJV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”
Our hope is that our enemies will come to that place of repentance, for God will reward the righteous and judge the earth (Psalm 58:11).
The one who lacks wisdom looks down on others, they’re ignorantly arrogant.
But the wise person, realizes that every person has infinite value, because of the simple fact that they’re made in the image of God, loved by Him, and REDEEMED by Him. This is reflected in their peaceful conversation and disposition.
The NIV calls the “talebearer” in Proverbs 11:13, a gossip. What an awful title to bear, but some people just cannot keep a secret – they love to hear and share the “juicy-juicy.”
On the flipside, isn’t it cool when your “secret” is safe with certain people? You can trust and confide in them – things that shouldn’t be shared with others. They give you good counsel and won’t take it to anyone but the Lord.
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.