Summary: THERE’S A BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JUST OBEYING GOD ON THE OUTSIDE, AND OBEYING FROM A THANKFUL, JOYABLE AGREEABLE HEART
As we look at the 22nd chapter of Numbers, we see the Israelites nearing the end of their wandering in the desert. They had just beaten up, killed, and plundered the Amorites and now they are camped in the plains of Moab near Jordon.
This is the place where they stayed until they passed through the Jordon river into the promised land under the leadership of Joshua.
Balak, the King of Moab, has just seen what had happened to the Amorites and he begins to consider what might happen to them. The Israelites had a great and powerful army with a reputation that spread through all the land and everyone was terrified of them.
It is easy to see how easily the Israelite army could conquer their country and everything around it if they didn’t do something fast to stop them.
Actually they wouldn’t have needed to fear the Israelites if they knew the orders that God had given to Israel not to mess with the Moabites, and not to use any hostility against them. And it is likely that Moses did let them know.
But they thought it may be a set up...to make them feel secure, making it easier for them to be conquered.
Balak even went to his neighbors the Midianites, and made sure they were aware of the situation, but found no source of comfort there.
The Moabites could have had reason to rejoice at the advance of the Israelite army. They should have been happy at Israel’s success over the Amorites because this freed them from the threat of Sihon, King of the Amorites, who had already taken part of their land and was likely to soon take the rest.
They should have reached out to Israel and helped them in their journey. After all, they were descendants of Lot, which means they were all related. BUT...
They had forsaken the religion of their fathers and sank into idolatry and now hated the people of God. If they had not fallen away from the faith of their ancestors Abraham and Lot they would never have attempted to curse the only people who had stayed true to the service of the true God.
It’s just as true today. Many who have fallen away from their faith not only turn against God but they become resentful and even hostile to those who remain true.
Well, Balak tries to get some "insurance" by getting the prophet Balaam on their side.
READ vs. 4b 6
Balaam was not an Israelite. In fact his vocation which was divination was a grievous sin in Israel. Yet apparently he had established a great reputation. If he said someone was blessed they were really blessed. If he said they were cursed, it was all over for them.
Many writers think that Balaam had once been a great prophet who had been looked upon with great respect because of the answers to his prayers and reliability of his predictions. But that God had departed from him because he became proud and greedy and Balaam had to turn to divination to earn his living.
So while there’s a lot we don’t know about Balaam, we do know that God speaks to him in this story. Although the things he says about Israel do not necessarily represent his own opinions on the subject.
So Balak sent some of his leaders to go see Balaam, to take him the fees for divination, and to fill him in on the situation.
READ vs. 7 12
That’s it. DO NOT GO WITH THEM. You can’t get any clearer than that! Now, God doesn’t always tell you the "why’s" He might just say NO. But God told Balaam not to go and gave him the reason why.
READ vs. 12b 17
Let’s take a close look at Balaam’s answer in verse 13. A bunch of guys come to him and say, "We want you to come and curse these people" But when Balaam asked God, He said NO. These people are blessed, and I don’t want you to hurt them.
The obvious thing for Balaam to have told these people would have been "I can’t curse these people because they are blessed by God.
But what did Balaam say to the messengers? "Go back to your land, for the Lord has refused to let me go with you." What does that mean? He wishes he could go, but God won’t let him.
Remember those fees for divination? Balaam got paid for his work. There wasn’t anything strange about that in those days. It was customary to bring a gift when you sought the word of God from a prophet
Balaam knew there was some big money to be made, and what he was really saying was, "I’d like to go but I can’t."