Daily Thoughts from Numbers: Tasting God

Then the people of Israel set out and camped in the plains of Moab beyond the Jordan at Jericho. And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites. And Moab was in great dread of the people, because they were many. Moab was overcome with fear of the people of Israel. 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, 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. 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.”

   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. 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.  And God came to Balaam and said, “Who are these men with you?” And Balaam said to God, “Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, has sent to me, saying, ‘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.’” God said to Balaam, “You shall not go with them. You shall not curse the people, for they are blessed.” 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.” So the princes of Moab rose and went to Balak and said, “Balaam refuses to come with us.”

   Once again Balak sent princes, more in number and more honorable than these. And they came to Balaam and said to him, “Thus says Balak the son of Zippor: ‘Let nothing hinder you from coming to me, for I will surely do you great honor, and whatever you say to me I will do. Come, curse this people for me.’” 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. So you, too, please stay here tonight, that I may know what more the LORD will say to me.”  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.” So Balaam rose in the morning and saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab.  (Numbers 22:1-21 ESV)

Balak is convinced that his military might alone cannot win him the day against Israel.  But with spiritual help from the seer Balaam he might be able to defeat Israel, so he offers money for Balaam to curse Israel.  However, Yahweh tells Balaam the people are blessed, so Balaam initially refuses.  Yet Balaam wants the money bad enough that he keeps going to Yahweh for permission and Yahweh tells him to go.

Who is Balaam?  He obviously has a relationship with Yahweh and an ability to hear from Him, like a true prophet, yet he is greedy for wealth and willing to sell himself for profit.  What a shame that a man with such an intimate relationship with Yahweh feels so impoverished.

What about us?  What are we valuing above our relationship with God?  Do you feel that your relationship to Him is not fulfilling?  Why?  This should surely be a source of concern for you and God for sure wants to address this with you.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!  Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! (Psalm 34:8)

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