Reading the Bible is very important to me. I really want to draw closer to the Lord, and one of the ways is to find out more about him – which I can do through reading the Bible. And of course, I am regularly asking the Holy Spirit to speak to me as I read. And right now, I seem to have a little more time in which to read. So, I read Numbers the last couple of days.
I love the story of Balaam. The Israelites are beginning to move into the promised land, and God is clearly with them. They are winning battles, and Balak, who was the king of Moab at that time, saw how the Amorites had been defeated. He realized the Israelites were a group to be reckoned with, and he wanted to find a way to defeat them. He decided to send for Balaam, a person who had some connection in the spirit world, and if he cursed people, well it was obviously effective. Then God spoke to Balaam. Now maybe God had previously spoken to Balaam, I do not know, but he certainly spoke to him this time. God told Balaam clearly not to go to Balak. The messengers returned, and the king sent some more important messengers. And he offered to reward Balaam handsomely. Balaam figures it would be a good idea to ask God again, and this time he is released to go, but only to speak the words that God would give him. The implication is, though, that the Lord was not pleased to be asked again, since he had given a clear response the first time.
Then we get the fun part. Balaam is riding his donkey to Balak, and the angel of the Lord stands in his way. Of course, the donkey stops, which unfortunately meant that his master beat him. This happens a couple of times again, until the donkey lies down and refuses to move. When Balaam starts to beat him, the donkey asks him why. I mean the donkey literally asks him why he is beating him. And the most incredible thing is that Balaam answers him! I am not sure what I would do if my dog spoke to me, but I certainly would be badly shaken, probably too scared to speak!
When the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn, and still he is not hearing a strong message that God is not happy with what he is doing. He asks again if he should go back, and once more he is permitted to go, but only to speak the words that God gives him.
Balaam at least recognizes that there is no point in saying anything other than the words of the Lord. When asked to curse the Israelites he blesses them, three times. Looks like the offer of wonderful reward is slipping away from him.
Balaam returns home, and the next thing we read is that the Moabite women are having sex with the Israelite men. This leads to a plague, and twenty-four thousand Israelites die. We read later in Numbers that this was Balaam’s idea.
God’s heart is to bless. He did not send the corona virus. It came from the pit and needs to go back there. But the Lord was speaking to me through this story. Many of us have had a good response to this virus. We are doing the right thing, we are self-isolating, social distancing, washing our hands vigilantly. We are taking the time to be in the Word, to pray more, to worship more. The full-frontal attack is not working, so the enemy will try a more subtle approach. Perhaps we criticize those who are not social distancing appropriately. Perhaps we complain, just a little. Or gossip. Or hold on tightly to what we have rather than sharing. If the enemy cannot get us one way, he will try another. We need to keep our guards up. And where we have fallen, we need to confess and put things right.
The enemy is attacking because he knows that his days are numbered. I do believe a great outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit is coming. I want to be a part of it, so I am going to make sure that I win the battle on all fronts!