Lesson 313: "Listen Up"
When God speaks it is wise to listen! When God repeats Himself it is urgent you pay attention! When God uses a talking donkey to get your attention you are in deep trouble! Perhaps like Balaam, at death’s door! Balaam never really understood the connection between obedience and blessings or obedience and a relationship with god. God made it plain what Balaam was to do and what to say; “you must not put a curse on these people” (Num. 22:12)! “Do only what I tell you to do” (Num. 22:20)!
Balak, king of Moab saw the Israelites camped along the Jordan and they were too close for comfort; he was terrified because of what they had done to the Amorites. The king sent for Balaam to put a curse on the Israelites and promised to reward him handsomely. Balaam looks good on paper! The scripture states he asked God what he should do and when God told him to not go with the princes (the king’s messengers) he told them he could not do as they asked. The princes persisted and God allowed the prophet to go with them but only to pronounce blessings on Israel and not curses as the king wanted. Balaam wanted the power to bring both blessings and curses but he also had dollar signs before his eyes and pride in his heart. He wanted all the benefits of a relationship with God but did not really want to obey. I think not only did he want the reward the king promised but actually wanted to put a curse on the people. You see he knew they were already blessed by God so who would know if he pronounced blessings on them. But people and especially the king would surely notice if he cursed them enabling the king to defeat them.
Balaam is a prime illustration of a person having access to the truth but goes his own way, interpreting God’s Word in a way to suit himself and his needs. He forgot two things that we should always remember; (1) God cannot be mocked (Gal. 6:7) and (2) God knows your thoughts and your heart (Ps. 139:2, 2 Chro. 6:30b, Jer. 17:10). There are millions of people in the world today that think like Balaam. They hide funds and cheat just a bit on their taxes ignoring the 8th Commandment. They condone abortion paying no heed to the 6th Commandment. They lie to and about their “friends” and though this has come to be known as a “little white lie”, nevertheless it breaks the 9th Commandment. The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17).
All of these people have access to the knowledge of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit to guide them to the truth but are slipping into want, pride, greed and even into deceit stemming from the lack of self-confidence or the need to be recognized. They, like Balaam, want the blessings without the commitment. They, like Balaam might encounter a talking donkey or worse the Angel of the Lord with drawn sword (Num. 22:31). God warned; “if you remain hostile toward me and refuse to listen to me, I will multiply your afflictions seven times over” (Lev. 26:23).
Pay attention to God and do not worry about getting attention for yourself. Make sure what you do points to Jesus and brings attention to the fact that only God can bless and curse. “It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord” (Rom. 12:19).