May 26, 2023
God's instruction can always be trusted.
And Balak said to Balaam, "What have you done to me? I took you to curse my enemies, and behold, you have done nothing but bless them." And he answered and said, "Must I not take care to speak what the LORD puts in my mouth?"
1 And Balaam said to Balak, “Build for me here seven altars, and prepare for me here seven bulls and seven rams.” 2 Balak did as Balaam had said. And Balak and Balaam offered on each altar a bull and a ram. 3 And Balaam said to Balak, “Stand beside your burnt offering, and I will go. Perhaps the LORD will come to meet me, and whatever he shows me I will tell you.” And he went to a bare height, 4 and God met Balaam. And Balaam said to him, “I have arranged the seven altars and I have offered on each altar a bull and a ram.” 5 And the LORD put a word in Balaam's mouth and said, “Return to Balak, and thus you shall speak.” 6 And he returned to him, and behold, he and all the princes of Moab were standing beside his burnt offering. 7 And Balaam took up his discourse and said,
“From Aram Balak has brought me,
the king of Moab from the eastern mountains:
‘Come, curse Jacob for me,
and come, denounce Israel!’
8 How can I curse whom God has not cursed?
How can I denounce whom the LORD has not denounced?
9 For from the top of the crags I see him,
from the hills I behold him;
behold, a people dwelling alone,
and not counting itself among the nations!
10 Who can count the dust of Jacob
or number the fourth part 1 23:10 Or dust clouds of Israel?
Let me die the death of the upright,
and let my end be like his!”
11 And Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I took you to curse my enemies, and behold, you have done nothing but bless them.” 12 And he answered and said, “Must I not take care to speak what the LORD puts in my mouth?”
13 And Balak said to him, “Please come with me to another place, from which you may see them. You shall see only a fraction of them and shall not see them all. Then curse them for me from there.” 14 And he took him to the field of Zophim, to the top of Pisgah, and built seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each altar. 15 Balaam said to Balak, “Stand here beside your burnt offering, while I meet the LORD over there.” 16 And the LORD met Balaam and put a word in his mouth and said, “Return to Balak, and thus shall you speak.” 17 And he came to him, and behold, he was standing beside his burnt offering, and the princes of Moab with him. And Balak said to him, “What has the LORD spoken?” 18 And Balaam took up his discourse and said,
“Rise, Balak, and hear;
give ear to me, O son of Zippor:
19 God is not man, that he should lie,
or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it?
Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?
20 Behold, I received a command to bless:
he has blessed, and I cannot revoke it.
21 He has not beheld misfortune in Jacob,
nor has he seen trouble in Israel.
The LORD their God is with them,
and the shout of a king is among them.
22 God brings them out of Egypt
and is for them like the horns of the wild ox.
23 For there is no enchantment against Jacob,
no divination against Israel;
now it shall be said of Jacob and Israel,
‘What has God wrought!’
24 Behold, a people! As a lioness it rises up
and as a lion it lifts itself;
it does not lie down until it has devoured the prey
and drunk the blood of the slain.”
25 And Balak said to Balaam, “Do not curse them at all, and do not bless them at all.” 26 But Balaam answered Balak, “Did I not tell you, ‘All that the LORD says, that I must do’?” 27 And Balak said to Balaam, “Come now, I will take you to another place. Perhaps it will please God that you may curse them for me from there.” 28 So Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor, which overlooks the desert. 2 23:28 Or Jeshimon 29 And Balaam said to Balak, “Build for me here seven altars and prepare for me here seven bulls and seven rams.” 30 And Balak did as Balaam had said, and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.
1 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. 2 And Balaam lifted up his eyes and saw Israel camping tribe by tribe. And the Spirit of God came upon him, 3 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, 3 24:3 Or closed, or perfect; also verse 15
4 the oracle of him who hears the words of God,
who sees the vision of the Almighty,
falling down with his eyes uncovered:
5 How lovely are your tents, O Jacob,
your encampments, O Israel!
6 Like palm groves 4 24:6 Or valleys that stretch afar,
like gardens beside a river,
like aloes that the LORD has planted,
like cedar trees beside the waters.
7 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.
8 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.
9 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, what a relatable guy, right? I'm constantly in that situation in which a foreign king is trying to get me to curse the nation of Israel and I have to prophesy to him. Okay, maybe not. Most of us probably have never been in that situation.
But have you ever been in a situation when speaking the truth was hard and you knew it wouldn't be well received? And that there might even be consequences if you did? As believers who are living out our faith, we should be encountering these situations on a regular basis. We live in a world in which the Bible is considered hateful and people are offended at the thought of needing a savior. Probably a lot of what we have to say shouldn't be easy for the rest of the world to hear. It's times like these that I cling to Galatians 1:10 because people-pleasing can be a ditch for me and Scripture says that it literally keeps us from being servants of Christ.
On the flip side, are you ever like Balak? Do you ever bring a problem to your community group, and they respond with truth you don't want to hear? You were really just bringing it to the group to get them on your side, receive empathy, or even approval to just let that sin struggle slide?
This chapter convicted me to "take care to speak what the LORD puts in my mouth" (Numbers 23:12) and not what the world wants me to say, regardless of the earthly consequences. To not strive to be more like Balaam and less like Balak, but ultimately to be more like Christ and less like everything else, including myself. Jesus boldly declared the Lord's truth even unto death on a cross.
We can boldly speak the Word of God because "God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind." (Numbers 23:19) Unlike the world, God's truth will never change, so we are able to proclaim it with more confidence than anything else.
This month's memory verse
3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
1. Think of a time when you spoke truth to someone when it wasn't what they were expecting or wanting to hear. Think of a time when someone spoke truth to you when it wasn't what you were expecting or wanting to hear. Is there anything you could've done better in those situations (e.g., spoken the truth with more empathy and kindness; responded better to hearing something hard but true, etc.)?
2. Do you struggle with people-pleasing? If so, is Galatians 1:10 a verse you would consider memorizing?
3. How do you handle hearing hard truths from fellow believers (think admonishment, correction, accountability)? Proverbs 27:6 is also helpful for this one.
4. Do you rarely encounter situations when speaking the Lord's truth is the unpopular or uncomfortable thing to do? If so, why do you think this is?