Monday, May 14, 2007

My way or God's?

Boy oh boy did I have a hard time concentrating on my devotions this morning. My mind just kept a wandering away on me. I dislike it when I am like that.

Anyways, one of my readings this morning came from Numbers 23. This is the story of Balaam and Balak. When I finished reading this, my first thought was...boy did Balaam take a while to learn. Was he stupid or something? I know...not very nice of me to think this, especially when I stop to think how long it takes me to learn stuff sometimes.

Balak was the King of Moab. I learned in Chapter 22 that
Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites. 3And Moab was in great dread of the people, because they were many. Moab was overcome with fear of the people of Israel.
So that gives the reasoning for what he tried to do. He was greatly afeared of the Israelites.

So he called for Balaam the son of Beor at Pethor,
saying, "Behold, a people has come out of Egypt. They cover the face of the earth, and they are dwelling opposite me. 6Come 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 wanted Balaam to curse Israel. A cursed people wouldn't be able to fight so hard and therefore would be easier to defeat. Knowing that the people they were fighting against were cursed would also inspire confidence in his people. (at least that's my reasoning)

So in Chapter 23 we find Balak following the instructions of Balaam.
"Build for me here seven altars, and prepare for me here seven bulls and seven rams."
Then Balaam went off to get the message from the Lord God.

God told him what to say.

"From Aram Balak has brought me,
the king of Moab from the eastern mountains:
'Come, curse Jacob for me,
and come, denounce Israel!'
8How can I curse whom God has not cursed?
How can I denounce whom the LORD has not denounced?
9For from the top of the crags I see him,
from the hills I behold him;
behold, a people dwelling alone,
and not counting itself among the nations!
10Who can count the dust of Jacob
or number the fourth part of Israel?
Let me die the death of the upright,
and let my end be like his!
Not exactly the curse that Balak was looking for! As he said

"What have you done to me? I took you to curse my enemies, and behold, you have done nothing but bless them."
All Balaam could say was
"Must I not take care to speak what the LORD puts in my mouth?"

So Balak decides that maybe the time and place weren't right for a curse to be said. So off he took Balaam to another place. The result was no different.

"Rise, Balak, and hear;
give ear to me, O son of Zippor:
19God 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?
20Behold, I received a command to bless:
he has blessed, and I cannot revoke it.
21He has not beheld misfortune in Jacob,
nor has he seen trouble in Israel.
The LORD their God is with them,
and the shout of a king is among them.
22God brings them out of Egypt
and is for them like the horns of the wild ox.
23For there is no enchantment against Jacob,
no divination against Israel;
now it shall be said of Jacob and Israel,
'What has God wrought!'
24Behold, a people! As a lioness it rises up
and as a lion it lifts itself;
it does not lie down until it has devoured the prey
and drunk the blood of the slain."

And it didn't work. All Balak learned was that God doesn't lie. He doesn't suddenly change his mind. What God says will be, will be. And the people of Israel are his people.

Not exactly what Balak wanted to hear, and he didn't really seem to hear them. His response to the Balaam was "Do not curse them at all, and do not bless them at all."

And he wanted to try yet a different place, saying to Balaam

"Come now, I will take you to another place. Perhaps it will please God that you may curse them for me from there."

He just didn't get it.

So I thought by this point... what an idiot!

Not very charitable of me. I look at my life and all the times when I say God I want this because I want it! And God always says, don't do this, I don't like it, no excuses you offer change that. I am God and I am holy and you need to follow me truly. And other such things. Sometimes I think it is part of human nature to just want what we want regardless and it's hard to see past our own selfishness sometimes.

All Balak wanted was to get his own way. He wanted the Israelites cursed so he and his people wouldn't be afraid of them anymore. He couldn't see past himself to see what God was really trying to tell him.

His fear, his selfishness wasn't the important thing here. What was important was seeing what God was saying. Of realizing that God can't change. That his people are important to him and that quite frankly, he knows better than we do.

We need to see past ourselves to see God.

I need to do this as well.

God's way is so far superior to mine. I just need to see it.

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