Journey with Daniel
“Day 23 (Numbers 23)”Categories: 40 Days in the Wilderness
I find today’s chapter humorous. Balaam arrives before Balak, and Balak wants Balam to pronounce a curse on Israel. So Balaam has Balak prepare the offerings, and then goes to hear a word from the Lord. When he returns he blesses Israel instead of cursing them. Of course Balak is upset (v. 11). He’s blessing the enemy, not cursing them. Balak then takes Balaam to another location to try again, but the Lord’s words are the same – blessings not curses (v. 18-24). Does this stop Balak? Nope. Let’s try one more time. Let’s try one more location – as if the location has to do with the curse (v. 27). Despite all his efforts, what Balak intended for evil, God turned into good. What started as an attempt to curse ended with blessings.
Balaam had the right attitude in this chapter. “Must I not be careful to speak what the Lord puts in my mouth?” (v. 12). In other words, “if I speak on behalf of God, I’m going to be careful to say exactly what God says -not to add any of my words, or take out anything He said.” He had told Balak before, “The word that God puts in my mouth, that I shall speak” (Num. 22:38). That should have been enough for Balak. God has spoken.
But isn’t that what’s interesting – God has spoken and Balak’s response? Let’s get a second opinion. Let’s try again. Well they did, and when God spoke the 2nd time, and the 3rd time, His answer had not changed. Isn’t this the challenge of today? God has spoken, but I don’t like it. I don’t like what He says about morals, about purity, about marriage and divorce, about worship, about holy living. So what do we do? We can either bend our will and submit to God’s words, or we can be like Balak and seek a second opinion. That sounds a lot like 2 Timothy 4:3-4: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”
So here’s a question for you to consider today: what do I do when I don’t like what I’ve read/heard from the word of God? You might start with the tough/honest question: “why?” Why don’t I like it? Is it because I’m struggling with this? Is it because it doesn’t line up with what I’ve been taught/believe? Is it because I know I’ll have to make some changes in my life?
The word of God that is described as sweet as honey (Ps. 19:10), is also called a sharp two-edged sword that pierces/penetrates, and is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Heb. 4:12). Have you ever been pierced? Stepped on a piece of glass? Been poked by a thorn? It hurts. Being judged hurts. That’s a good hurt. It’s a good pain. We’re seeing who it is we are compared to who it is we ought to be – looking to the true standard of God’s word.
So many want to use the Bible like a butter knife and smooth everything over - everything is fine. God said it is a sharp sword, meant to pierce, penetrate the soul. It is the surgical blade of the Spirit used to cut away all the sinful cancers of the heart.
Don’t be like Balak. Don’t change God’s words. Don’t seek a second opinion. Let the Bible say what it says – and listen. If it hurts, let it. That hurt might produce a change in your life. It might be what brings you closer to Jesus.
Wise and all understanding God, today I thank You for Your words. What a gift they are. Through Your words we come to know You. Through Your words we see ourselves as we really are. We see Your love, Your will, and Your purpose and plan for us. They are sweet like honey, able to encourage our spirit, and comfort the brokenhearted. They are a like a lamp in a dark world, showing us truth – real truth – and guiding us to You. They are like a sword – they pierce the soul, they judge the heart, they convict the guilty. When I open Your words, help me to listen. Help me to apply what I’ve read to my life, and to obey what You’ve commanded. Soften my heart to receive correction, to be ready for instruction. Help me to better know You, and be like You, through my time spent in Your holy words.