Aren’t you glad that He does? Most of us wouldn’t be here if He hadn’t intervened when we were about to make some really horrible decisions. I for one can’t thank Him enough for the times He has stood between me and death. What may have seemed like a setback, delay or disappointment, may just have been our Heavenly Father getting in the way.
In Numbers chapter 22 we read a very humorous account of Balaam and the talking donkey. I won’t even attempt to write out the scriptures because it’s three chapters long, so you’ll have to read it on your own. But the gist of the situation was that the Lord told Balaam not to go do what Balak was suggesting because the Israelites were a blessed people. Verse 12. At first Balaam told Balak’s officials that he wouldn’t be able to do what was being asked of him, but when the offer became a little more lucrative, he was having second thoughts. Wanting to see if perhaps God had changed His mind, he told the officials to wait overnight. Let’s pick it up there.
“They went to Balaam and delivered this message to him: “This is what Balak son of Zippor says: Please don’t let anything stop you from coming to help me. I will pay you very well and do whatever you tell me. Just come and curse these people for me!” But Balaam responded to Balak’s messengers, “Even if Balak were to give me his palace filled with silver and gold, I would be powerless to do anything against the will of the Lord my God. But stay here one more night, and I will see if the Lord has anything else to say to me.” That night God came to Balaam and told him, “Since these men have come for you, get up and go with them. But do only what I tell you to do.”
Numbers 22:16-20 NLT
Now if you have read the account, it may seem like God was granting permission for Balaam to go, by saying he can only say what God tells him to say. If that were true, why was God angry that he was going? Verse 20. Because God knew that Balaam didn’t believe his own rhetoric. He wanted to go. Or his first response would’ve been his only response. We can’t outsmart or out-think the all knowing God. Remember Psalm 139:1-6? We are all guilty of Balaam’s sin. We know the first and last thing God has said, but we keep coming up with ways to sidestep His will. Sometimes we even spiritualize it by saying we’ll pray about it. God wouldn’t say that, or God would want me to be happy we say. God would never deny me something that is good for me, we tell ourselves. After all, He said He’d give me the desires of my heart. We forget about delighting ourselves in the Lord part of that promise. Soothing our conscience may get us in the mess, but it won’t help us get out of the mess.
Motive is everything. Balaam knew the trip would be fruitless so far as the Israelites were concerned, so why go? The reward. He probably thought he could kill two birds with one stone. Say what God told him to say, blame God and collect the reward. WRONG!! But something unusual happened while he was on his way to Moab, God got in the way. The interesting thing about this entire situation was Balaam’s faithful donkey saw something Balaam did not. The Angel of the Lord (Jesus) was standing in the way with a sword. Let’s pick it up in verse 22. Ahem. You have to go read it. The exchange is hilarious. But the Lord wasn’t laughing. The donkey was what stood between the Lord and Balaam. The Lord finally opened the donkey’s mouth to keep Balaam from beating the poor animal to death. And Balaam answered the donkey as though it was normal to have a conversation with a mule! Who was the….in this exchange?? Disobedience will not only blind us, it will make a fool out of us.
The Lord asked a question of Balaam and gave the reason why He was standing in the way. We can push through stubbornly, or we can acknowledge His intervention. Balaam was so blinded by pride and greed that he couldn’t see what was in front of him. See verse 5. The donkey saved his life. Let’s read.
“Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the roadway with a drawn sword in His hand. Balaam bowed his head and fell face down on the ground before Him. “Why did you beat your donkey those three times?” the Angel of the Lord demanded. “Look, I have come to block your way because you are stubbornly resisting Me. Three times the donkey saw Me and shied away; otherwise, I would certainly have killed you by now and spared the donkey.”
Numbers 22:31-33 NLT
What has the Lord lovingly blocked and you have pushed through thinking it was the devil who was opposing you? What has He warned you not to do that you have ignored or are ignoring? The obstacles that are in your path are the Lord’s way of protecting you like Balaam’s donkey. Everything good isn’t God, and every setback isn’t the devil. Remember that message? Discernment will help you decipher which one is God and which is the devil. The devil forces and drives, the Lord directs (leads) and guides. When the Lord is standing in the way of your disobedience, don’t push through. We all know when we’re operating in our flesh. Balaam knew his mission was not of God. The Lord said He would have spared the donkey and killed Balaam. Why? The donkey was more discerning than the self proclaimed prophet. Let that sink in.🤔
“Then Balaam confessed to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned. I didn’t realize You were standing in the road to block my way. I will return home if you are against my going.” But the Angel of the Lord told Balaam, “Go with these men, but say only what I tell you to say.” So Balaam went on with Balak’s officials. When King Balak heard that Balaam was on the way, he went out to meet him at a Moabite town on the Arnon River at the farthest border of his land. “Didn’t I send you an urgent invitation? Why didn’t you come right away?” Balak asked Balaam. “Didn’t you believe me when I said I would reward you richly?” Balaam replied, “Look, now I have come, but I have no power to say whatever I want. I will speak only the message that God puts in my mouth.”
Numbers 22:34-38 NLT
Do not allow the promise of wealth, the sweet talkers, the pretend friendships, the thing you believe you can’t live without, to suck you into a trap. The Lord is standing in the way, not with a sword, but by His Spirit shouting or whispering, His tone denotes the urgency and your ability to hear Him and stop, change course and do exactly as He’s directing you to. Balaam did go, but the outcome wasn’t what Balak had expected. We pick it up in Chapter 23….ahem! Exactly.
The theatrics were purely for appeasement, because Balaam already knew that he was no longer in charge, the Angel of the Lord (Jesus) was.
“The Lord gave Balaam a message for King Balak. Then He said, “Go back to Balak and give him MY message.” So Balaam returned and found the king standing beside his burnt offerings with all the officials of Moab. This was the message Balaam delivered: “Balak summoned me to come from Aram; the king of Moab brought me from the eastern hills. ‘Come,’ he said, ‘curse Jacob for me! Come and announce Israel’s doom.’ But how can I curse those whom God has not cursed? How can I condemn those whom the Lord has not condemned? I see them from the cliff tops; I watch them from the hills. I see a people who live by themselves, set apart from other nations. Who can count Jacob’s descendants, as numerous as dust? Who can count even a fourth of Israel’s people? Let me die like the righteous; let my life end like theirs.”
Numbers 23:5-10 NLT
🤣If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the Lord in my years of serving Him is this: He knows how to have fun with His enemies, and He never alters or changes His Word. This scene continued in hilarious fashion. I hope you’re reading alongside this commentary or you’ll be missing a whole lot.
“Then Balak said to Balaam, “Fine, but if you won’t curse them, at least don’t bless them!” But Balaam replied to Balak, “Didn’t I tell you that I can do only what the Lord tells me?”
Numbers 23:25-26 NLT
I don’t know about you, but I’m roaring with laughter right now. If you think God doesn’t have a sense of humor, you haven’t met my God. We can keep on lying to ourselves, reveling in our sin and disobedience against God. But you’d better pray that you have a discerning donkey to stand between you and the Angel of the Lord. God will not be mocked. He has declared what sin is and what righteousness is. He hasn’t changed His Word or His mind, no matter what the woke culture and politicians are saying and doing. He hasn’t changed His mind about rebellion. Right now we have One who stands between heaven and earth, between us and a Righteous Holy God. His Name is Jesus! He has been standing in the way for over two thousand years. But there’s coming a day when He will return to exact punishment on the lawless and the disobedient.
Where do you fit into His plans for your life? Are you still doing your thing? Balaam and Balak both discovered that man is no match for the Lord. He will bypass your brain, mouth and best laid plans to protect His Name. Don’t let a mule be more discerning than you. That is exactly what sin produces in us. The inability to see, hear and discern the presence and warnings of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is convicting and warning as you’re reading. The story may be humorous, but the warning shouldn’t be ignored. Pick it up in chapter 24. And I’ll end with these words and verses. Balaam operated by divination, He wasn’t a prophet. But when anyone attempts to do harm to God’s people He will show up. Are there any of God’s people in the audience? Don’t worry yourself, God is standing in the way. No one can curse who God has blessed. The Israelites had no knowledge about what was happening above them. They were oblivious to the performances of the greatest puppet show by a medium and a fearful king. Rest children of God, while He has some fun with your enemies, His enemies.
“By now Balaam realized that the Lord was determined to bless Israel, so he did not resort to divination as before. Instead, he turned and looked out toward the wilderness, where he saw the people of Israel camped, tribe by tribe. Then the Spirit of God came upon him, and this is the message he delivered: “This is the message of Balaam son of Beor, the message of the man whose eyes see clearly, the message of one who hears the words of God, who sees a vision from the Almighty, who bows down with eyes wide open: How beautiful are your tents, O Jacob; how lovely are your homes, O Israel! They spread before me like palm groves, like gardens by the riverside. They are like tall trees planted by the Lord, like cedars beside the waters. Water will flow from their buckets; their offspring have all they need. Their king will be greater than Agag; their kingdom will be exalted. God brought them out of Egypt; for them he is as strong as a wild ox. He devours all the nations that oppose him, breaking their bones in pieces, shooting them with arrows. Like a lion, Israel crouches and lies down; like a lioness, who dares to arouse her? Blessed is everyone who blesses you, O Israel, and cursed is everyone who curses you.” King Balak flew into a rage against Balaam. He angrily clapped his hands and shouted, “I called you to curse my enemies! Instead, you have blessed them three times. Now get out of here! Go back home! I promised to reward you richly, but the Lord has kept you from your reward.” Balaam told Balak, “Don’t you remember what I told your messengers? I said, ‘Even if Balak were to give me his palace filled with silver and gold, I would be powerless to do anything against the will of the Lord.’ I told you that I could say only what the Lord says! Now I am returning to my own people. But first let me tell you what the Israelites will do to your people in the future.””
Numbers 24:1-14 NLT
Read the ensuing verses -you will be blessed. I pray that the Lord will open your eyes to see that He isn’t standing in the way to bring harm to you, but to protect and defend you. Pray for discernment to know His voice above every other. In Jesus Name 🙏
Written by permission of the Holy Spirit
June 23, 2021