“I Would Greatly Honor You”

Balak paid Balaam to come and curse the people of God. However, God would not let Balaam curse Israel. So, each time Balaam opens his mouth, he blesses Israel. Balak is angry because he has paid good money for Balaam to come and curse rather than bless Israel. “Then Balak’s anger was aroused against Balaam, and he struck his hands together; and Balak said to Balaam, ‘I called you to curse my enemies, and look, you have bountifully blessed them these three times! Now therefore, flee to your place. I said I would greatly honor you, but in fact, the LORD has kept you back from honor’” (Numbers 24:10-11, NKJV).

Did you see the melodrama of Balak, “He struck his hands together?” Can’t you just see him? He slaps his hands together and then begins to tell Balaam what he was supposed to do.  But then he says, “I said I would greatly honor you, but in fact, the LORD has kept you back from honor.”  Did you see that? He tells Balaam, “I would honor you, but the LORD has kept you from cursing my people. So I can’t.”

First, that strikes me as Balak telling Balaam, “My honor is greater than the Lord’s, but the Lord won’t let me give it to you.” Second, “Look at what you are missing out on. I have all this great honor I am willing to give you if you only do what I paid you to do.” Doesn’t that sound a little bit like what Satan tries when he offers Christ all the kingdoms of the world? “If you will bow down to me, all this can be yours.” Satan made it look like what he was offering was better than what Jesus already had. Jesus already owned it all. Third, it sounds like Balak is a big baby. “If you play by my rules, I will give you greater honor. But, if you don’t, I am going to take my honor and go home.”

Balak makes it sound like Balaam is really missing out on something. Consider, Paul will say if there is no resurrection, we are of all men most pitiable (1Cor. 15:19). In other words, we have given up everything because we believe in the resurrected Lord. What He offers is greater than what the world offers. But, if it is not true, then we have sacrificed everything for a façade. And we have missed out on something greater. Isn’t that what Satan does with us? He makes it appear like what he is offering is greater than what the Lord offers. And we buy it!

No honor Balak or Satan can offer compares with the honor God offers and provides. But the honor Satan offers is now. It is tangible. We can taste it, touch it, and feel it. It seems real. The honor God provides is intangible and the greater honor is in eternity with Him. We want what we want because we can see it or touch it. That gratification for honor “now” is alluring. The honor God provides seems secondary in importance.

Contrast this with what is said of the nameless heroes of faith, “Of whom the world was not worthy.” They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth (Heb. 11:38). These heroes of faith suffered and never realized the promise. So, it is said, “Of whom the world was not worthy.” They did not have honor from the world bestowed on them, but they did have the honor of God. Balak would have said to them, “I would have honored you, but you chose the honor of being nameless.”

Am I seeking the honor of God or the honor of Balak, this world, and Satan?

Rickie Jenkins

P.S. This musing came as a by-product of the morning devotions Noah, Jordan and myself.