Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Balaam and the Bad Rap

In today's Old Testament reading, from Numbers 22, the Israelites traveled through the desert and came near to the territory of Moab. The Moabite king, Balak, sent for Balaam to put a curse on the Israelite people, because they were too numerous for him to defeat. Balaam has the messengers spend the night, and during the night he tells God what's up with the visitors.
12But God said to Balaam, "Do not go with them. You must not put a curse on those people, because they are blessed."
Numbers 22:12
Balaam has his instructions. What does he do with them?
13The next morning Balaam got up and said to Balak's princes, "Go back to your own country, for the Lord has refused to let me go with you."
Numbers 22:12
Balak sends more messengers, more distinguished and more numerous than the first, and he promises a handsome reward.
18But Balaam answered them, "Even if Balak gave me his palace filled with silver and gold, I could not do anything great or small to go beyond the command of the Lord my God.
Numbers 22:18
Here is a guy who knew where he stood. And as such he provides us with an example to follow.

So let's stop right there for a moment. Are you thinking about doing something rather shabby, something you know you shouldn't? Cheating on your expense report, on your spouse, or something like that? There's a whole pile of trouble you and I can avoid by just determining, like Balaam did (or said he did) not to go beyond what the Lord your God permits.

At this point, we could continue reading and try to figure out where Balaam got into trouble (because get into trouble he did), but I'm not going to do that, basically because I'd be making stuff up. The good news for us, though, is that whatever trouble we do get into, there is grace and mercy available for us.

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