God’s nature vs. man’s strategies

Numbers 23

the deceptor

Balak (not Barack) tried to pull an Iago. And failed.

Like a good movie, the writer of Numbers goes to a side story and begins covering the saga of Balaam and Balak, respectively a “spiritual” resource and a king. Balaam just finished up a bizarre encounter with God and, while he may not be fully committed to the God of Israel, the Lord certainly has his attention for the time being. Balak consults the spiritual guide and begins requesting his services to curse the enemy nation of Israel. After the donkey scene, Balaam confesses he can only speak what God has told him to say.

This chapter covers two “oracles,” both beginning with Balak’s prompting to go to some high location and seek God in order to have Him curse Israel.  Both times, Balaam reaches the location only to receive a contradictory message for Balak. Too bad, so sad, Moab.

You can read the discourses yourself — it’s a very interesting section buried in what many would regard as “boring” sections of the Bible.  I wanted to highlight two particular verses that might be of use to you today.

1) “How can I curse whom God has not cursed? And how shall I denounce whom the Lord has not denounced?” (v. 8)

Balak is bent on getting on the other side of God’s favor, and he attempts to manipulate God using a third party. Balaam returns from his mini-retreat with some disappointing news for his client: no can do.

This line is interesting to me because it reflects modern Christianity.  We love standing for justice, and we love assembling as churches and denouncing the world’s schemes, then conglomerating on Facebook and condemning people and groups. but often times it is at the complete disposal of love.

God is not in the cursing business; His creation, though resistant and inherently sinful, is not on His hit list, no matter how much we despise certain types of people or their activity.

Without question, God favors His children, but His hand is reaching for others. We do His character a disservice if we reflect malice instead of mercy.

2) “God is not a man, that He should lie.” (v. 19)

This short verse implies some solid truths:

– God (YHWH) is not a man.
This is not talking about Jesus, hence the YHWH — I know some people would love to jump on this one. He is not mortal and He has no fault in Him.

– God is not a liar.
Balak wants to get God to somehow deceive Israel into believing they have His favor, and then go turncoat and blast His children. God isn’t into changing Himself or shortchanging anyone.

– Men are liars.
This shouldn’t be a surprise, but we would like to believe we have some authority or jurisdiction over God whereas we can skip around Him and do things our way.  If we begin to put God on the same level, we’re lying.  And positionally, that’s where we stand.

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