Awesome Hands – Part 132: “To bless or curse”

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Awesome Hands – Part 132

To bless or curse

April 14, 2018

Oftentimes we find ourselves questioning the various situations in which the Lord has placed us. These questions come to our minds as easily as air comes to our lungs.

While it may seem negative at first to question why we are in a situation or trial, it doesn’t need to always be viewed this way. In truth, the Lord wants us to realize that we are where we are because He has put us there. Likewise, it is He who will deliver us as time progresses.

This is a theme that will follow us all of our days. The story we are going to cover today will show us how we should respond to the Lord when He puts Himself in our path.

The reality of our lives is that we should ALWAYS see our trials as the Lord’s angel standing in the road to block our way or to give us passage. It is all of the Lord. How we REACT to what the Lord does determines if we will live or die unto the Lord, spiritually speaking.

To bless or curse

Our story today finds us looking at the choices we make in light of our situation. We oftentimes know what to do, but doing it comes much harder than just knowing it.

The Lord always places choices in front of us, but He also already knows what we will choose. It may seem like there is no real choice in this situation, since the Lord knows ahead of time what will happen, but the process of choosing is to show us that WE DO NOT KNOW what we will choose until we choose it.

Choices are to show us where we are with the Lord, not where the Lord is with us. In other words, our choices are a reflection of our obedience to do what the Lord commands or not.

Balaam and Balak show us these differences. Most of the verses in this study are from the ESV unless otherwise noted.

Num 22:1  Then the people of Israel set out and camped in the plains of Moab beyond the Jordan at Jericho.
Num 22:2  And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites.
Num 22:3  And Moab was in great dread of the people, because they were many. Moab was overcome with fear of the people of Israel.
Num 22:4  And Moab said to the elders of Midian, “This horde will now lick up all that is around us, as the ox licks up the grass of the field.” So Balak the son of Zippor, who was king of Moab at that time,
Num 22:5  sent messengers to Balaam the son of Beor at Pethor, which is near the River in the land of the people of Amaw, to call him, saying, “Behold, a people has come out of Egypt. They cover the face of the earth, and they are dwelling opposite me.
Num 22:6  Come now, curse this people for me, since they are too mighty for me. Perhaps I shall be able to defeat them and drive them from the land, for I know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed.”

Balak’s sole motivation in this story is fear. In his fear he wants to use a man’s power of blessing or cursing, as he perceives it, to curse the Israelites. He sends off for Balaam offering Balaam anything he wants in return for his “powerful cursing ability”.

Num 22:7  So the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the fees for divination in their hand. And they came to Balaam and gave him Balak’s message.
Num 22:8  And he said to them, “Lodge here tonight, and I will bring back word to you, as the LORD speaks to me.” So the princes of Moab stayed with Balaam.
Num 22:9  And God came to Balaam and said, “Who are these men with you?”
Num 22:10  And Balaam said to God, “Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, has sent to me, saying,
Num 22:11  ‘Behold, a people has come out of Egypt, and it covers the face of the earth. Now come, curse them for me. Perhaps I shall be able to fight against them and drive them out.'”
Num 22:12  God said to Balaam, “You shall not go with them. You shall not curse the people, for they are blessed.”
Num 22:13  So Balaam rose in the morning and said to the princes of Balak, “Go to your own land, for the LORD has refused to let me go with you.”
Num 22:14  So the princes of Moab rose and went to Balak and said, “Balaam refuses to come with us.”

The will of God is made very clear to all parties involved. Balaam is the mouthpiece of the Lord, and  Balak will not have the curse come from Balaam. Do you think this will sit well with Balak? Of course it won’t. It also doesn’t sit well with Balaam either, and that is revealed in how Balaam petitions the Lord for a second time.

Num 22:15  Once again Balak sent princes, more in number and more honorable than these.
Num 22:16  And they came to Balaam and said to him, “Thus says Balak the son of Zippor: ‘Let nothing hinder you from coming to me,
Num 22:17  for I will surely do you great honor, and whatever you say to me I will do. Come, curse this people for me.'”
Num 22:18  But Balaam answered and said to the servants of Balak, “Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the command of the LORD my God to do less or more.
Num 22:19  So you, too, please stay here tonight, that I may know what more the LORD will say to me.”
Num 22:20  And God came to Balaam at night and said to him, “If the men have come to call you, rise, go with them; but only do what I tell you.”
Num 22:21  So Balaam rose in the morning and saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab.

The Lord surely had His wrath kindled with this request from Balaam. Balaam wanted to see “what more” the Lord would say to him, but the Lord has already made it clear that the Israelites were not going to be cursed.

Balaam is being offered honor and whatever else he asks of Balak. Though he denies these requests with his words, Balaam’s heart is far from the Lord.

This is where we need to constantly be diligent in our own dealings with the Lord. Where is our heart when we know to do right, but do the opposite anyway?

I find that with myself, I often almost always know what the Lord would have me do, but something in my thinking looks for what is excusable with the Lord or with myself. What can I get away with that keeps me on the fence line without “really” disobeying the Lord?

Not all situations happen this way, but many do. I almost always know what I have learned is the right way to deal with what the Lord has placed in my life, but I do not always want to obey that understanding and knowledge of what is right with the Lord. Such is how we find Balaam, who is a servant of the Lord.

You can’t really blame Balak for trying to keep him and his people safe. If he can get this “man” Balaam to do his bidding, all is good. It isn’t the Moabites who worship Yahweh, so they don’t really care that Balaam is saying he must do what the Lord says. Yahweh is not their Lord.

To that point, here Balaam is going with the Moab representatives even though he already said the Lord said he couldn’t place a curse on the people.

The Lord answers Balaam according to the idols of his heart and tells him to go with “the men”, but that will not be the end of it.

Num 22:22  But God’s anger was kindled because he went, and the angel of the LORD took his stand in the way as his adversary. Now he was riding on the donkey, and his two servants were with him.
Num 22:23  And the donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road, with a drawn sword in his hand. And the donkey turned aside out of the road and went into the field. And Balaam struck the donkey, to turn her into the road.
Num 22:24  Then the angel of the LORD stood in a narrow path between the vineyards, with a wall on either side.
Num 22:25  And when the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she pushed against the wall and pressed Balaam’s foot against the wall. So he struck her again.
Num 22:26  Then the angel of the LORD went ahead and stood in a narrow place, where there was no way to turn either to the right or to the left.
Num 22:27  When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she lay down under Balaam. And Balaam’s anger was kindled, and he struck the donkey with his staff.

The Lord uses the donkey to save the life of Balaam by preventing him from taking the “wrong road” to his destination. The wrong road, of course, would end in death .. i.e the path that Balaam was on.

The Lord certainly is merciful to Balaam, but this wasn’t strictly for Balaam’s sake. Balaam is still going to be used of the Lord to execute His judgment on the Moabites and to let them know what that judgment is going to be.

Num 22:28  Then the LORD opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?”
Num 22:29  And Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have made a fool of me. I wish I had a sword in my hand, for then I would kill you.”
Num 22:30  And the donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey, on which you have ridden all your life long to this day? Is it my habit to treat you this way?” And he said, “No.”

Isn’t it amazing that this dumb animal knew more and saw more than Balaam did? Balaam was blinded by the prospect of divination and honor, but this donkey saw the angel of the Lord!

Isa 1:3  The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.”

The donkey was smart enough to avoid danger on behalf of his owner, yet Balaam did not have the wherewithal to know the will of his Master!

Num 22:31  Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, with his drawn sword in his hand. And he bowed down and fell on his face.
Num 22:32  And the angel of the LORD said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to oppose you because your way is perverse before me.
Num 22:33  The donkey saw me and turned aside before me these three times. If she had not turned aside from me, surely just now I would have killed you and let her live.”
Num 22:34  Then Balaam said to the angel of the LORD, “I have sinned, for I did not know that you stood in the road against me. Now therefore, if it is evil in your sight, I will turn back.”
Num 22:35  And the angel of the LORD said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but speak only the word that I tell you.” So Balaam went on with the princes of Balak.

I do not have time in this study to read all of the verses that pertain to the entire interaction between Balaam and Balak, but Balaam goes on to have altars erected and offerings/sacrifices made on them.

It should be clear by now that Balaam desired to go and see what Balak had to offer. There simply was no other reason for Balaam to go, seeing as all that Balak wanted was a curse that “could” help him defeat Israel.

Being that Balaam is a type of God’s prophet, and we are all being raised up as the children of God with the prophecy of Jesus Christ in our hearts and minds, we should pause and evaluate if we, too, desire the gains of this life over the life the Lord has promised us.

It is a fair question and one only we can ask ourselves sincerely.

The hands of the Lord work in all things, and while that is intellectually understandable, it is spiritually a hard pill to swallow.

Balaam is ultimately used, via the help Balak provides in creating the altars needed by Balaam, to bless the people of Israel in front of many Moabites.

Num 23:17  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?”
Num 23:18  And Balaam took up his discourse and said, “Rise, Balak, and hear; give ear to me, O son of Zippor:
Num 23:19  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?
Num 23:20  Behold, I received a command to bless: he has blessed, and I cannot revoke it.

Num 24:1  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.
Num 24:2  And Balaam lifted up his eyes and saw Israel camping tribe by tribe. And the Spirit of God came upon him,
Num 24:3  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,
Num 24:4  the oracle of him who hears the words of God, who sees the vision of the Almighty, falling down with his eyes uncovered:
Num 24:5  How lovely are your tents, O Jacob, your encampments, O Israel!

The ultimate goal of this study is show that we will all eventually, as the people of God, see what pleases the Lord and what does not.

You might be wondering how we can know what pleases the Lord. Sometimes, we are just told. There is much more that can be said about this topic, but I think these verses help to guide us in to right direction concerning this topic.

(KJV) Col 3:20  Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.


(KJV) Col 1:5  For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;
Col 1:6  Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:
Col 1:7  As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ;
Col 1:8  Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.
Col 1:9  For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
Col 1:10  That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
Col 1:11  Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;
Col 1:12  Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
Col 1:13  Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

The Lord presents choices for us every day of our lives as chances to discover where our mindsets and hearts are with the Lord. When we find that we are not in lockstep with being obedient to the Lord, these choices provide an opportunity for us to correct and judge ourselves in the presence of the Lord.

This truly is a wonderful and merciful way for the Lord to love and teach His children.

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