Summary: 3rd in 3 part series on God’s X-Files - "unexplained phenomenon" and the lessons we can learn from them.
“This is NOT Happening”
Introduction: (Drama: “I Don’t Want to Fight You Anymore” Used with permission)
Could you say that? “Ok, God you’ve got my attention.”? Did you get the distinct feeling that the guy in the drama needed God and yet wouldn’t quite let go? That can happen to you when you go from knowing about God to really knowing God and understanding what he wants from you. But certainly before God can work with you he’s got to have your attention.
You may have heard the story of the farmer who wanted to sell his donkey. A potential buyer showed up and looked the mule over. He asked if he could hitch him up to the wagon and see how he worked. The farmer did so and climbed up into the wagon with the customer handing him the reins. The customer tapped the reins but the donkey didn’t move. He said, “Giddyup” but the donkey just stood there. He cried out “Ahhhhah” but the donkey just looked straight ahead. The farmer got down off the wagon, picked up a two by four and hit the animal right between the eyes. While the donkey staggered the farmer got back up into the wagon and said, “Now try it.” The customer tapped the reins, the donkey moved out and the old farmer said, “He’s a good donkey, but you have to get his attention first.”
Well, today we want to talk about the opposite scenario.. A time where a donkey is used to get a man’s attention. It’s amazing to me that the God of the universe is actually trying to get me to notice Him. In fact, although the Bible teaches us that when we seek God we will find Him, but it also teaches that God is pursuing us, trying to get our attention because He wants a relationship with us. Jesus, in Lk 15, told three stories where he said God was searching for us, looking for us and longing for us. In the book of Revelation it tells us that Jesus is continually knocking at the door of our hearts requesting entrance. “Look! I have been standing at the door, and I am constantly knocking. If anyone hears me calling him and opens the door, I will come in and fellowship with him and he with me.”(Rev. 3:20) So, today I want us to study this incident see how God used an unexplained phenomenon to get one man’s attention and see what lessons we can learn from it.
I BALAAM’S DILEMMA:
A little background on this man will be helpful to our understanding of this incident. The protagonist or main character in this incident is a man by the name of Balaam. Balaam was not a Godly man. He was a seer or fortune teller by trade. Many scholars even think he was a sorcerer, sort of a Far Eastern "witch doctor." The way Balaam made his money was by someone paying him to place curses or blessings on people. Apparently he was quite good at it. But don’t think of him as a Godly man. Religion was his business, not his life-style.
In Numbers 22, the king of the nation of Moab, Balak, wanted Balaam to use his powers with God to place a curse on Israel. Obviously, neither Balaam nor Balak had any idea that God considered the Israelites as God’s people! But desperate times require desperate measures and Balak, this king of Moab was afraid. The Bible says: “Then King Balak of Moab realized how many of them (Israelites) there were, and when he learned what they had done to the Amorites, he and his people were terrified. So King Balak sent messengers to Balaam... He begged Balaam to come and help him. ‘A vast horde of people has arrived from Egypt, and they cover the face of the earth and are headed toward me,’ he frantically explained. ‘Please come and curse them for me, so that I can drive them out of my land; for I know what fantastic blessings fall on those whom you bless, and I also know that those whom you curse are doomed.’”
Interestingly enough, Balaam was willing to acknowledge that the God of the Israelites was a powerful God. But his story exposes the deception of maintaining an outward side of spirituality while living a corrupt inward life. Balaam was ready to obey God’s command as long as he could profit from doing so. Although he realized the awesome power of Israel’s God, his heart was occupied with the riches he could gain in Moab.
In fact, in Num. 22:7 the prominent leaders of Moab come to Balaam with money asking him to curse the Israelites. However, during the night God tells Balaam not to curse the Jews for God has blessed them. To his credit Balaam tells the leaders that he cannot do what they ask. Well, the leaders go back to the King and tell him the news. But Balak doesn’t give up. He figures that Balaam is just haggling over the price. So, in vs:15 the King sends more distinguished men and in vs:16 which is printed for you we see: “King Balak pleads with you to come. He promises you great honors plus any payment you ask. Name your own figure! Only come and curse these people for us.” Now, once again, to Balaam’s credit he refuses because he knows to acquiesce would be to disobey God but look at vs:19 because it gives us some insight into Balaam’s crisis of character. “However, stay here tonight so that I can find out whether the Lord will add anything to what he said before.” Now, this is the place where you got to ask, “Okay, Balaam, what part of “No” didn’t you understand?” Balaam’s got a dilemma. He wants the money but he knows that to get it he’s got to disobey God. And the very fact that Balaam asks the men to spend the night says that he is waffling or at least hoping that he could figure out some way to do both. You see, Balaam’s problem was his greed! He talked a good game but he really wanted the money more than he wanted to please and obey God. Like many people, Balaam wanted his way to be God’s way, rather than the other way around! Ever done that? I’ll admit it.. There has been more times than I’d like to admit that I’ve tried to figure out some way I could get God to agree with what I want to do. So, look what happens.