Thoughts on Numbers 22

Balaam was asked by Balak of the Moabites to curse the people of Israel. When he consulted his “boss” (the Lord), he was told to turn down the offer – to which he obeyed. Balak then came back with a counter offer sending a more senior delegation. Balaam’s first answer was courageous, “even if you give me your house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the command of the Lord to do less or more.” Brave words to say to a king. But then he followed up with, “but stay here, and let me go ask Him again.”

It seemed to me that it was the proper action, you consult these things with the boss. But the following verses tell us that although God did allow Balaam to go, his anger was kindled because of this. Why is that?

Maybe because Balaam already knew, or is supposed to already know, God’s stand in this issue. The situation has not changed. Sending higher level princes to ask the same thing does not sway God. It does sway people, though. Money, power, fame – our words in public may say those things are not important, but our eyes, our hearts, they betray us. We are not immune to these enticing prospects, even prophets who can speak directly to God get tempted.

Praise God, the story does not end here.

God, then, makes a master stroke in object lessons. There is a chain of command in the world, and God is supreme. When God commands, you obey, even if your superiors ( who are themselves under God ) command the opposite. Sometimes, the discrepancy in the command is because you see God and they don’t. Will we face pain and hardship for not obeying our direct superiors? They have the ability to do so. But obeying God’s command is more important. What if a have had a lifelong relationship with our superiors? God’s command is still more important.

An important point to make now is that when we say we are following God’s command, we better be sure it is God’s command. We cannot go on invoking His name for something that is not true. Things will not go well for those that talk about God’s command when in fact it isn’t.

“Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam…”

Lord, thank you. Please, open our eyes. Let us see you, let us see ourselves. That we may not sin against you, that we may see your goodness and your sovereignty. That we may act, and respond, properly according to the truth.

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