Today’s Bible reading: Numbers 22:21-23:30; Luke 1:57-80; Psalm 58:1-11; Proverbs 11:12-13
We read the strange story of Balak, king of the Moabites and Balaam, who was a man who was believed to have some sort of powers. Balak wants Balaam to curse Israel because he has heard about Israel’s victories over other people in the area. In reality Balak had nothing to worry about because God had not given the land of Moab to Israel. If Balak had a relationship with God he would have known that and would have saved himself a lot of trouble and anguish.
Apparently providing cursings and blessings was Balaam’s profession (Numbers 22:7) and we can conclude that Balaam was not a follower of the true God yet he knows about God and seeks His advice. God first tells Balaam not to go. But Balaam doesn’t like that answer so he asks again at which time God tells Balaam to go. God did not change His mind here. Just like God will say “no” to his children to prevent them from getting hurt, God will sometimes give the “OK” sign to non-believers in order to reveal Himself to them and to teach them.
We see God’s plan in Numbers 22:22 when an “angel of the Lord” stands in the road blocking Balaam’s way. This angel of the Lord is Jesus. Jesus has always existed, even before He was born, and He makes a few “guest” appearances in the Old Testament. This is one of them. We know this is Jesus because in verse 32 He says that He came because Balaam is resisting Him.
I think it is interesting that Balaam’s donkey could see the angel while Balaam could not. Maybe there are angels all around us that we cannot see but the animal kingdom can. As far as the fact that the donkey spoke… if God created donkeys then there is no reason why He couldn’t give one the ability to speak. The snake spoke in the Garden of Eden (although it was empowered by Satan; in this case the donkey was empowered by God).
Anyway, Balaam is only willing to speak to Balak whatever God tells him. So he is unable to curse Israel. When God has a plan nothing, not even someone filled with satanic powers, can stop Him. God had no misfortune planned for Israel (Numbers 23:21).
John the Baptist is born in our New Testament reading in Luke today. The father, Zechariah, prophesies about the lives of John and also Jesus, who had yet to be born. Notice that Zechariah states that God has sent a Savior to save Israel from their “enemies and from all who hate” them. The people of Israel still didn’t quite understand that Jesus came to save people from their sins (which is an enemy of mankind) not to overthrow the Roman Empire.
Psalm 58 addresses rulers of this world. It accuses them of acting unjustly by lying and going their own way (Psalm 58:3). And this was written more than 2,000 years ago. I wonder what the author of this Psalm would have to say about the rulers who have been on this earth over the past 100 years, including today.
Proverbs 11:12-13 warns us against gossipping and divulging secrets. It is more sensible to build up the character trait of trustworthiness by keeping one’s mouth shut.
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