Skip to main content

Take a Hint! Numbers 24

We are nearly to the end of the Balaam Narratives in Numbers. We’ve seen Balaam try and balance personal profit with fearing God. We’ve seen Balaam pronounce blessings that I do not think he expected to pronounce. We’ve seen him talk to his own donkey, and God speaking through a talking donkey deserves an entire blog series of its own.

I digress. Today in Numbers 24, we see Balaam beginning to get the idea. Numbers 24:1 tells us he saw that it pleased YHWH to bless Israel. At which point, Balaam then sets aside his ways of seeking ‘prophecy’ and the true Spirit of the One True God came upon him. (Numbers 24:2) He then speaks words of blessing over Israel, which we could go all Bible-nerdy and debate whether they are blessings that would not have happened had they not been said, or if they were simply foretellings of the blessing of YHWH that would come upon Israel.

Hint: it’s the latter. While our ‘self-narrative’ affects our life, the words spoken by someone with no power or authority over us do nothing. Spiritually, Balaam has no power but God does, so Balaam is not bringing the blessings into existence. God does so, and gives Balaam a peek into the future to report them.

Balaam takes a prudent course of action in this chapter. Let’s look at how he handles the whole thing.

First, he sees what pleases God. Pay attention. Read the Word of God. See what pleases God. Do we actually take time to consider that idea? Does this please God? He is knowable, based on the Word of God where He has revealed Himself. If Jesus wouldn’t do it, it does not please God.

Second, he does what pleases God. It is not enough to see. Doing follows.

Second, he abandons those things which displease God. The divination, the ways of false religion. It’s all out. If you know what pleases and displeases God, then you will do the one and not the other, and both receive equal effort in your life. While it is certainly easier to avoid the bad by doing the good, and one can err by sitting about, hoping to never do wrong by never doing anything, that’s no solution.

Third, he beats feet away from the enemies of God. Balaam’s last statements are about the end-result of afflicting God’s people, the closing chapter of Moab’s existence. So he gets away.

Do we recognize the need for these three concepts in our lives? In our churches?

That our goal is to focus on what pleases God, avoiding evil, doing good, and not partnering with darkness. Even if it’s a “good cause.”

Balaam’s story does not actually end here. Numbers 31 reflects that he counseled Balak that the only way to sideline Israel was to entice them to sin. God had no curse for them, and no outside power could stand against them, but their own sin could be their undoing.

And it was. When we look at the next chapter, we will see the plague brought by the people’s sin.

Balaam is not unlike many of our cultural experts that we listen to in the modern American church. He could clearly see what God did and didn’t approve of, but he found the loopholes to sow Israel’s destruction through themselves.

We must be cautious that we do not draw into our lives the seeds of destruction. Even one who has blessed us in the past may be troubling our future.

Today’s Nerd Note: I’m not going to detail the ways that Balaam’s prophecies come true. Some of these are certainly emblematic and hard to figure.

A few worth noting: Numbers 24:17 reflects the rising of a star, a scepter that shall crush Moab. This could be Davidic or Messianic, depending on how you press it out.

Then there are the references to the Kenites, and they reappear in Judges 4-5.

Just a few spots worth noting.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Book Review: The Heart Mender by @andyandrews (Andy Andrews)

The Heart Mender: A Story of Second ChancesEver read a book that you just kind of wish is true?  That's my take on The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews.  It's a charming story of love and forgiveness, and it's woven into the historical setting of World War II America.  For the narrative alone, the book is worth the read, but the message it contains is well worth absorbing as well.However, let's drop back a minute.  This book was originally published under the title Island of Saints.  I read Island of Saints and enjoyed it greatly.  Now, Andrews has released it under a new title, with a few minor changes.  All of this is explained in the Author's Note at the beginning, but should be noted for purchaser's sake.  If you read Island of Saints, you're rereading when you read The Heart Mender.  Now, go ahead and reread it.  It will not hurt you one bit.Overall, the story is well-paced.  There are points where I'd like more detail, both in the history and the geog…

Curiosity and the Faithlife Study Bible

Good morning! Today I want to take a look at the NIV Faithlife Study Bible. Rather than spend the whole post on this particular Study Bible, I’m going to hit a couple of highlights and then draw you through a few questions that I think this format helps with.



First, the basics of the NIV Faithlife Study Bible (NIVFSB, please): the translation is the 2011 New International Version from Biblica. I’m not the biggest fan of that translation, but that’s for another day. It is a translation rather than a paraphrase, which is important for studying the Bible. Next, the NIVFSB is printed in color. Why does that matter? This version developed with Logos Bible Software’s technology and much of the “study” matter is transitioning from screen to typeface. The graphics, maps, timelines, and more work best with color. Finally, you’ve got the typical “below-the-line” running notes on the text. Most of these are explanations of context or highlights of parallels, drawing out the facts that we miss by …

Foolishness: 1 Corinthians 1

In Summary: 1 Corinthians opens with the standard greeting of a letter from the Apostle Paul. He tells who he is with (Sosthenes) and who he is writing to. In this case, that is the “church of God that is in Corinth.” He further specifies that this church is made up of those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be saints. 
He then expresses the blessing/greeting of “grace and peace” from God. From there, Paul reflects on his initial involvement with the Corinthian people and the beginning of the church. After that, though, there are problems to deal with and Paul is not hesitant to address them. He begins by addressing the division within the church. Apparently, the church had split into factions, some of which were drawn to various personalities who had led the church in times past. There is no firm evidence, or even a suggestion, that Paul, Cephas, Apollos, or anyone else had asked for a faction in their name. Further, the “I follow Christ” faction may not have been any le…