Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Prophet for hire: part 2

God 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? Behold, I received a command to bless: he has blessed, and I cannot revoke it.

Numbers 23:19-20


Flying_Donkey Poor Balak! He has paid good money to hire Balaam to place a curse on Israel. He has tried three different times, really four if you count the initial encounter with Balaam, and each time Balaam comes back with a blessing for the people that Balak hates. And it comes at the cost of building 21 altars and sacrificing 21 oxen and 21 sheep. This was a serious investment on his part in the hopes he could secure Israel’s demise.


But this much was true about Balaam… whatever message he “channeled” he stayed faithful to the content. He may have sold out to the highest bidder in terms of religious services, but he had enough sense to realize that he was dealing with the “real deal” when the God of Israel spoke to him. He may have been easy, but he was not quite sleazy.


The humor in these episodes is obvious. A pagan king and a flim-flam celebrity psychic “to the stars” would be used by God to confirm Israel’s purposes in His plan. And no one was going to stand in the way of what God was doing. Even the gods and religious practices of the people of Canaan would fall before the power and will of Yahweh. Israel’s God would be shown as having sovereignty over all people. They might get frustrated at the collapse of their pagan worldview. But they clearly and repeatedly saw the truth.


God gave grace to Balak through Balaam’s oracles. It enraged the pagan king, but he could not deny the truth of it. God managed to irrefutably establish His sovereignty, literally at Balak’s expense! It is funny, powerful, and tragic all at the same time!


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