July 19, 2019

Not for All the Silver and Gold

Numbers 24

5 Comments | Listen | Print

Balaam's Third Oracle

When Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to bless Israel, he did not go, as at other times, to look for omens, but set his face toward the wilderness. And Balaam lifted up his eyes and saw Israel camping tribe by tribe. And the Spirit of God came upon him, and he took up his discourse and said,

  “The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor,
    the oracle of the man whose eye is opened,1
  the oracle of him who hears the words of God,
    who sees the vision of the Almighty,
    falling down with his eyes uncovered:
  How lovely are your tents, O Jacob,
    your encampments, O Israel!
  Like palm groves2 that stretch afar,
    like gardens beside a river,
  like aloes that the LORD has planted,
    like cedar trees beside the waters.
  Water shall flow from his buckets,
    and his seed shall be in many waters;
  his king shall be higher than Agag,
    and his kingdom shall be exalted.
  God brings him out of Egypt
    and is for him like the horns of the wild ox;
  he shall eat up the nations, his adversaries,
    and shall break their bones in pieces
    and pierce them through with his arrows.
  He crouched, he lay down like a lion
    and like a lioness; who will rouse him up?
  Blessed are those who bless you,
    and cursed are those who curse you.”

10 And Balak's anger was kindled against Balaam, and he struck his hands together. And Balak said to Balaam, “I called you to curse my enemies, and behold, you have blessed them these three times. 11 Therefore now flee to your own place. I said, ‘I will certainly honor you,’ but the LORD has held you back from honor.” 12 And Balaam said to Balak, “Did I not tell your messengers whom you sent to me, 13 ‘If Balak should give me his house full of silver and gold, I would not be able to go beyond the word of the LORD, to do either good or bad of my own will. What the LORD speaks, that will I speak’? 14 And now, behold, I am going to my people. Come, I will let you know what this people will do to your people in the latter days.”

Balaam's Final Oracle

15 And he took up his discourse and said,

  “The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor,
    the oracle of the man whose eye is opened,
16   the oracle of him who hears the words of God,
    and knows the knowledge of the Most High,
  who sees the vision of the Almighty,
    falling down with his eyes uncovered:
17   I see him, but not now;
    I behold him, but not near:
  a star shall come out of Jacob,
    and a scepter shall rise out of Israel;
  it shall crush the forehead3 of Moab
    and break down all the sons of Sheth.
18   Edom shall be dispossessed;
    Seir also, his enemies, shall be dispossessed.
    Israel is doing valiantly.
19   And one from Jacob shall exercise dominion
    and destroy the survivors of cities!”

20 Then he looked on Amalek and took up his discourse and said,

  “Amalek was the first among the nations,
    but its end is utter destruction.”

21 And he looked on the Kenite, and took up his discourse and said,

  “Enduring is your dwelling place,
    and your nest is set in the rock.
22   Nevertheless, Kain shall be burned
    when Asshur takes you away captive.”

23 And he took up his discourse and said,

  “Alas, who shall live when God does this?
24     But ships shall come from Kittim
  and shall afflict Asshur and Eber;
    and he too shall come to utter destruction.”

25 Then Balaam rose and went back to his place. And Balak also went his way.

Footnotes

[1] 24:3 Or closed, or perfect; also verse 15
[2] 24:6 Or valleys
[3] 24:17 Hebrew corners [of the head]

Not for All the Silver and Gold



Key Verse | Numbers 24:13

"'If Balak should give me his house full of silver and gold, I would not be able to go beyond the word of the LORD, to do either good or bad of my own will. What the LORD speaks, that will I speak'?"

Bio | Kevin McConaghy

Six years ago this very day, I received a self-proclaimed "random e-mail" from a girl I'd never met. She ended the email by mentioning that she "make(s) awesome lemon bars."

Five years ago, we got married.

Three years ago, we became parents of a little girl who is just as cute as her mama.

One year ago, we added a son who is just as cute as me. (Sorry, son.)

Today, we're looking at sonograms of our third child.

Lemon bar recipe available upon request.

Central Truth

God's Word doesn't change, even if you want it to.

Devotional | Numbers 24

Thus ends the unintentional comedy of Balaam and Balak, featuring a talking donkey, two stubborn Bala-guys, and the worst contractor experience in recorded history. Seriously, I wish I could read the...

Thus ends the unintentional comedy of Balaam and Balak, featuring a talking donkey, two stubborn Bala-guys, and the worst contractor experience in recorded history. Seriously, I wish I could read the Yelp review that Balak would have left on Balaam's prophet-for-hire page.

Balaam's five-star reputation—"he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed" (Numbers 22:6)—could only have come from him consistently, accurately stating what God was going to do. So Balak essentially hired him to proclaim God's Word. However, Balak wanted God's Word to say a certain thing—so much so that he tried to buy the answer he wanted and went to three different places to get different messages in the hope that it would change.

God's Word doesn't change, and He can't be bought. But there are people who try to make the Bible say things that it doesn't. They'll search for one verse they can take out of context to read a certain way, ignoring all the other passages that clarify God's intent and contradict their interpretation. Or they'll take something that is pretty clearly spelled out in the Bible and try to claim that what God really meant was something else entirely. There are plenty of pastors, authors, and teachers who are more than happy to misrepresent the Scriptures if it makes them more popular or wins them more "silver and gold."

Balaam is not the hero here; he's considered a villain for some things he did off-screen (Revelation 2:14). But he did one thing right: he refused to lie about or misrepresent God's Word. Of course, if he had changed the message, it wouldn't have changed God's mind; He would have still blessed Israel and judged Moab. Balaam would have profited in the short run, but soon word would have gotten out that his word wasn't worth much, and nobody would have ever hired him again.

Trying to change God's Word and make it say what you want won't turn out well for anyone. It can keep you from His blessings and cause some people to be surprised when judgment comes.

See Comments

Discussion Questions

1. In what areas do people try to change what the Bible says?

2. Which of God's commands are you tempted to change or ignore?

3. What should Balak have done?

4. Who was Balaam talking about in Numbers 24:17?

5 Comments available

Hope Harris about 1 hour ago

It took Balaam a supernatural encounter with a talking donkey and Angel; before he got the drift not to speak against God’s people and understand the power of the great I Am.

During the course of the week I have witnessed someone completely abandon their faith to purse love that is outside God’s intended design.

I know that this radical change didn’t occur overnight. It also makes me aware of the instruction Proverbs 4:23 NLT

In watching my friends story unfold and reading about Balaam this week; I am reminded that “What I believe about God is the most important thing about me.” (Tozer) Balaam learned that God was more powerful and that His will couldn’t be manipulated for personal gain.

Guard my heart God.

Lindsey Driscoll about 1 hour ago

Kevin, great devo this morning about how the entirety of Gods word is to be applied in our lives. We keep coming back to 2 Timothy 3:16-17 this week about Gods will through his words to Baalam being done, despite what Balak wants Gods words to be. I have learned this lesson consistently over the past year, that I am to seek the entirety of scripture to see what the Lord says, not to cherry pick out what sounds good to me to make a point. “All scripture” Paul writes in 2nd Timothy, must be studied in order to be “thoroughly equipped.”

Hugh Stephenson about 2 hours ago

GM Kevin! Great devo. Love this - “Trying to change God’s Word and make it say what you want won’t turn out well for anyone.”

I am reflecting on what Balak and Baalam were thinking at the end of Balaam’s oracles. Clearly, the events gave both of them a very different understanding of who God is and is not.

Also reflecting on the people who God uses to accomplish His purposes - Pharaoh, Balak, Balaam, Saul, Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus and even Judas. A friend notes, “Disobedient people will not stop God’s will from being done”.

Recently I have had several energetic conversations with friends who cite passages to support the point of view they already hold. I am helped by understanding that the right approach is the opposite; eisigesis versus exegesis.

I have learned the hard way to seek to know His will. Not uploading a task list to Him.

Michael Scaman about 21 hours ago

Q4 Even though judgement is pronounced against Moab, stunning mercy will be shown to some Moabites like Ruth.

We sang a song about that verse in my public school high school choir around 1973 “There shall a start come out of Jacob” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHZ5O1rZ6T4

Michael Scaman about 21 hours ago

Q3 Balaak is allot like Herod. He heard God’s plan and instead of embracing it and repenting, tried to thwart it, as if he could.

View More Comments

Download The App

  • Jointhejourney app store
  • Jointhejourney play store