Today’s readings.. Numbers 24&25, Proverbs 16, Ephesians 5&6.

The one who uttered the oracle referred to above was destroyed by God!  The wonder of hearing and reading the words of God is only of real value if it leads to godly thoughts and actions.  Indeed, the Apostle Peter writes of those who fail to do this, that “it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than, after knowing it, to turn back … “ [2 Peter 2 v.21]

Today we completed reading the 3 chapters in Numbers (22-24) which tell us about Balaam.  He was a unique man who had much power and influence and the king of Moab called on him to help him by putting a curse on Israel as they came to the borders of Moab.  He was willing to do what the king requested because he was promised much reward.  The events which followed are remarkable.  An angel from the LORD meets him in the way (22 v.31) and he has conversations with the LORD through his angel.

His efforts to try to put curses on Israel through divination fail and instead “the Spirit of God came upon him and he … said … the oracle of the man whose eye is opened, the oracle of him who hears the words of God who sees the vision of the Almighty” [24 v.15,16] Part of his vision is of “the latter days” [v.14] when “Israel is doing valiantly and one from Jacob shall exercise dominion …” [v.18,19] – surely a reference to Jesus.

Yet, despite all this Balaam goes back to his place frustrated that he is unable to do what the king of Moab wants and gain wealth and honour as a reward.  Ch. 25 tells us that the people of Israel “began to whore with the daughters of Moab … and the people ate and bowed down to their gods” [25 v.1,2]  with the result God caused a plague and “those who died by the plague were twenty four thousand.” [v.9]

The seduction by the women of Moab was deliberate for when we come to Ch. 31 we learn the Israelites “killed Balaam” [v.8] also that it was “Balaam’s advice, (that) caused the people of Israel to act treacherously … so the plague came among the congregation” [v.16]  This wily man knew the weakest part of human nature, he thought he had had some measure of revenge, but he had no vision of the Eternal.  There are far too many examples of those “who hear the words of God” but the way of the flesh appeals more strongly. Read 2 Peter 2 v.14-20.

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