I have been reading the story of Balaam, found in Numbers 22 -24.
Balaam son of Beor was sent by Balak, son of Zippor, king of Moab, as a messenger to go and curse the people of Israel. This is because King Balak wants to drive the Israelites out in order to conquer them, but their vast numbers have been a threat. King Balak even set out with money to pay Balaam to place this curse on the Israelites.
Balaam maintains that he will do whatever the Lord tells him to. “In the morning I will tell you whatever the Lord directs me to say,” he says. That same night the Lord asked him who these men were. Balaam explained everything and the Lord told him not to go. Balaam obeyed, but King Balak would not have it. He offered Balaam incentives, saying to him, “I will pay you very well” and that he would reward him richly. Balaam adamantly refused:
Num 22:18 “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.”
The angel and the donkey
He confided in the Lord again and was told to get up and go with the Moabite officials, but on the condition that he does only what the Lord tells him to. But the Lord was angry, so he sent an angel to stand in the road to block his way. The donkey bolted off, and Balaam started beating it. Then the Lord gave the donkey the ability to speak, and Balaam and the donkey started arguing.
The first blessing
When Balaam arrived at the Israelites’ camp east of the Jordan River, he started blessing them instead of cursing them, because this was what God told him to do. Balak was angry and demanded and answer. Balaam replied that he will only speak the message that the Lord puts in his mouth.
The second blessing
Balaam told Balak that he has received a command to bless, and that God would never lie. God has blessed and Balaam, as a servant of God, cannot simply reverse it! No misfortune is in his plan for Jacob and no trouble is in store for Israel.
The third blessing
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 he delivered this message:
Num 24: 5-7
How beautiful are your tents, O Jacob;
how lovely are your homes, O Israel!
They spread before me like a palm grove,
like gardens by the riverside.
They are like tall trees planted by the Lord,
like cedars beside the waters.
The story of Balaaam is just amazing, and the three themes that really spoke to me was:
1. The obedience of Balaam to God – despite the “riches” that was promised to him by King Balak, Balaam refused to accept them but continued to do everything God told him to.
2. God’s protection and direction – He sent the angel to block Balaam’s path
3. Nothing is impossible with God – He made the donkey speak!
3. The Holy Spirit is God’s mouthpiece – the Spirit came upon Balaam by the time he delivered the third message, and he no longer needed to seek the direct voice of God. Because of the Spirit of God that lived within him, he is able to discern God’s will.
4. The beauty of Israel’s camps – I’m just in awesome reverence of God’s creation of nature. This probably explains my affinity with homes & gardens *aww*