Monday, September 12, 2011

110912 - Numbers 21-24 - The error of Balaam contrasted with the unseen errors of Jacob

S: He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the LORD his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them. God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn. Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel: according to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought! (Nu 23:21-23)

O: Balaam may himself be a perverse character (2 Peter 2:15, Jude v. 11, Rev. 2:14) but it was his privilege to give voice to some powerful prophecies about Israel. God hasn't seen anything wrong with Israel. Didn't we just see iniquity in Israel, when they spoke against God and Moses and He sent the fiery serpents? Yet God did not now see their iniquity (vanity, idolatry, misfortune). God is with them and there is no enchantment (Strong's <05173>=enchantment, divination, <05174>=copper, bronze, <05175>=serpent - these 3 Hebrew/Aramaic words seem to use the same Hebrew characters.) against Jacob. This is a memorable section of Scripture, as strange as the story is. Jesus compares Himself to the brass serpent on the pole (John 3:14, perhaps 12:32) and warns the church at Pergamos about the teaching of Balaam.

A: Several points of application may be made here - the image of the brasen serpent on the pole represents Jesus on the cross, where sin is judged. Look to Him to live - nothing further to be done - sin is no longer beheld in those who look to Him. We must continue to look to Him - laying aside anything that would hinder us as we run this race, continuing to account ourselves dead along with Him to sin. We are not subject to (<07081> divination, witchcraft, divine sentence) when we do this. Then the figure of Balaam reminds us that even the prophet of the LORD, when presuming upon the permissive will of God, may work his own demise, (Numbers 23:10, 31:8), even while working God's will. How do I reconcile these two ideas? God permits perversity against His perfect will among His children, which will lead to natural consequences, direct chastisement and may ultimately lead to their deaths. (1 Corinthians 5:5, 11:30, 1 John 5:16) We should not assume that physical death, even as a direct chastisement by God, (See Acts 5:1-11), implies damnation. Is Balaam among the redeemed? Will we see Balaam in heaven? I hope so - but he certainly serves as stern warning to anyone who may believe they're on the right track in ministry because God continues to bless their work.

P: Father, protect me from presumption against you - I want to follow your will for my life.

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Why "SOAP?" See http://www.enewhope.org/firststeps/journaling

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