(Numbers 23, Psalm 64-65; Optional 1 John 3:16-24, Proverbs 23:10-14)
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SEE May 11 for SPECIAL NOTE on format change…
NUMBERS 23 – Num 23:1-3 – Going through costly external religious ceremonies. I wonder if Balaam thinks God can be bought (like Balaam could be)? Some today certainly act like if they get just the right combination of actions / prayers, etc that they can get what they want from God. This is basically witchcraft and treating Almighty God like a vending machine.
Num 23:5, 16 – This IS a true MESSAGE (it comes directly from Yahweh), delivered through a “perverse” (see 22:32 – or your translation might have “contrary / reckless / evil”) prophet. See Deut 23:3-6 and Josh 13:22 for God’s summary on Moab’s attempt to hire Balaam to curse Israel and how God turned it into a BLESSING.
Num 23:10 – Ironically, see Num 31:8 for Balaam’s end. He became enmeshed with those trying to stand against God and got destroyed along with them.
Num 23:13, 27 – Repeated attempts at a new perspective. Maybe from THIS angle you can see things differently and say what we want you to say. It’s sad (I see it a lot these days) to see professing believers contort themselves and try to pretzel God’s Word to say something more in line with what the world wants to hear.
Num 23:19 – Compare with Psalm 50:21 (basically “you thought God was like you – BIG MISTAKE!”) and 1 Sam 15:29. This should greatly ENCOURAGE those that belong to God – He WILL bring all His people home to heaven for eternal joy in His presence. And should TERRIFY (and prayerfully bring to repentance) those that are NOT God’s – the end of BOTH is told in Rev 21-22.
Num 23:20, 23 – Yes! Compare Prov 26:2 and believers be encouraged – no enchantments / witchcraft / curses can sneak past God and hurt you! But also be humbled and warned… Balaam DID figure out a way to get God to kill many of the Israelites, tempting them into sin – see Num 31:16 (which explains Num 25).
PSALM 64-65 – Ps 64 – Again, when unjustly attacked, those who belong to God run to Him, and rejoice and exult IN HIM (v 10 – even in the midst of being treated unjustly by people). Notice how different the desperate tone from vs 1 to the triumph of v 10 – this is what happens when we bring our troubles to the Lord!
Ps 65 – A reminder that God is worthy of praise from all people (there are repeated missionary reminders through this Psalm) and all of nature.
Optional Prov 23:10-14 – Prov 23:13-14 – Another VERY clear reference to firm and very counter-cultural parental discipline. Some people try to turn every reference to “the rod” into merely a SYMBOL of parental authority. I don’t see how you can read Prov 23:13-14 (and SEVERAL other similar verses) as anything other than a call to corporal discipline of children – proper spanking is not abuse (there certainly IS some that IS abuse, and that’s wicked), but a command from God. Don’t be like those who try to twist God’s Word around into something that’s more pleasing to the world (see notes at Num 23:13 today).