Sunday, July 2, 2017

Numbers 24:10-14 -- On Trusting and Accepting God's Answers

"And Balak’s anger was kindled against Balaam, and he smote his hands together: and Balak said unto Balaam, I called thee to curse mine enemies, and, behold, thou hast altogether blessed them these three times.
Therefore now flee thou to thy place: I thought to promote thee unto great honour; but, lo, the Lord hath kept thee back from honour.
And Balaam said unto Balak, Spake I not also to thy messengers which thou sentest unto me, saying,
If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the commandment of the Lord, to do either good or bad of mine own mind; but what the Lord saith, that will I speak?
And now, behold, I go unto my people: come therefore, and I will advertise thee what this people shall do to thy people in the latter days."
Numbers 24:10-14

In the story of Balak and Balaam (chapters 22-24), Balak, who is the king of the Moabites, wants Balaam the prophet to curse Israel, so that he can prevail against them.  And despite several trips, the prophet continues to bless them rather than cursing them.  And here, when he talks about promoting Balaam to great honor it seems that he blames this failure on Balaam himself.

It's an interesting conflict of perspective that we sometimes see in our lives as well.  We, like Balak, expect the prophet or other leaders to tell us what we want to hear, and bless us in overcoming our enemies or our challenges, and helping us prosper.  And if that doesn't work out, then we act like it is their fault, when, like Balaam, they are just trying to do as the Lord asks.  We actually do this sometimes directly with God.  We go to him and tell him what we want, and expect it to be delivered... treating God like some magical Genie who is bound and forced to grant wishes.

The truth is, even if Balaam had given in to Balak's temptation to curse the people in return for power and riches, all Balaam could have accomplished in promising Balak success was to lose his gift of prophecy.  As soon as he contradicted God, it would have been gone, and his promises would have been the promises of a man, no longer speaking for God.

God cannot be manipulated, coerced, or guilted into doing anything.  If the answer is no, we have to accept that, and even better, trust that it is for the best.  God can see farther than we can.  He knows what is best... always.  Now, that doesn't mean that we shouldn't ask for what we want, or explain how we feel to God.  God encourages us to ask, and he is willing to teach us the "why" as well, but it takes patience and faith to listen for and to accept his answers, especially when they aren't what we expected or wanted.  If we stick with God, he will help us understand and see past our present discouragements to the future hope that is in store.  And if we don't stick with God... then we are only harming ourselves.

One primary slip up for Balak, and sometimes for us, is that he was seeking his own will rather than the truth.  Would we rather have God lie to us and promise us that our lives will be perfect, or can we accept the truth, even if it differs from what we expected?

Today, let's be as diligent as Balaam was in sticking to the word of the Lord over the temptation of riches or power.  And let's also seek truth and righteousness rather than our own will.  Let's be willing to listen to God, and trust him and accept what he has to say, even when it doesn't match up with what we had in mind.

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