Summary: This is the first in a series of sermons on the Old Testament beatitudes. Who are the blessed ones? Those who bless the people of God
Series: OT Beatitudes
Title: Blessed Are Those Who Bless the People of God
Text: Numbers 22:1-6; 24:1-14.
I think we’re all familiar with the beatitudes with which Jesus began the Sermon on the Mount, recorded in Matthew 5. I thought it might be interesting to look at some similar expressions in the Old Testament and see what we could learn. Our Old Testament Beatitude for this evening comes from Numbers 24:9, but we will first need to set the stage. (Read Text).
The Key Players:
Balaam, a seer, prophet, diviner, reader of omens. We don’t really know much about Balaam. He does not appear to be an Israelite. He may have been an Edomite. He was the Son of Beor. The only Beor we know about was from Edom. But this was much earlier (Genesis 36:32)
Balak, the King of Moab. He was afraid of this nation who had left Egypt. He had heard of Israel’s conquests. He was hoping to have Balaam curse Israel. He has promised Balaam great honor (i.e. wealth) if he will curse Israel.
An Angel. Balaam is on his way with the princes of Moab to meet Balak. He has already sought an omen, but was told by God to bless Israel. The Angel is blocking the road.
A Donkey. The Donkey, sees the angel and stops in the middle of the road. Balaam, beats his donkey to get him moving. And the donkey speaks. This is the first recorded case of speaking in tongues recorded in the Bible and I want you to note who, or what is speaking in tongues. The Donkey says, “Balaam, why are you beating me? Can’t you see this angel in the way?” The angel tells Balaam, “You go with these men, but remember, you can only say what God tells you to say.”
What are some lessons we can learn from this fascinating account?
Greed and lust are powerful forces that are hard to resist. Balak had promised Balaam great wealth if he would curse Israel. Balaam wanted that wealth and that honor and that power so bad. He knew that God would only allow him to bless Israel, yet he sought some loophole so he could get what he wanted. He feared God, but he wanted that money and power almost as much. But he didn’t send the princes of Moab back. He said, I’ll go with you, maybe God will change his mind on the way there.
Last night they had another one of those Dateline stings. In the sting, an undercover agent poses as a 13-15 year old on the internet, in one of those on-line chat rooms. Almost every man who came to a house to meet an underage girl for immoral purposes had seen previous episodes and thought this might be a sting. But they went anyway. They knew it was wrong. They knew they might get caught. At least two of these men were religious. Greed and lust are powerful forces that are hard to resist and even religious people can get caught up in it if they are not very careful.
God’s will is not changed simply because I might benefit from it. Remember James 4:3, “3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” God knows when we’re being selfish and greedy. He’s not going to give in simply because you want.
Blessed are those who bless you and cursed are those who curse you. This is a covenant promise of God to his people. God made this promise to Abraham (Genesis 12:3): “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." This does not mean that everyone will bless the people of God, but it does mean that there will be dire consequences to those who curse God’s people.
A New Testament Twist
Jesus tells us what we should do to those who curse and persecute us. Luke 6:28 “bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” We are not to curse those who curse us, we are to bless them. We need not worry ourselves over those who speak evil and do evil against us. God will take care of them. God says that we are to bless them.
Paul tells us to do the same thing in Romans 12:14 “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.” And in the same context, he says, “19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." 20 To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Leave it to the Lord; overcome evil with good.