Friday, April 16, 2010

Numbers 21-24: When God Says No

Sunday School teachers like to tell the story about the donkey that talked, and I'll admit that's pretty cool, but it's not the most interesting part of the story to me.

First of all, we have Balaam, who isn't even one of the children of Israel, and God talks to him. I love that. It's a reminder that although God reveals his plans and his heart through Israel, he never rejected the Gentiles. Only their sin.

Second, and this is the most intriguing part of the story.

The people of Israel are getting a reputation, and Prince Balak is a little concerned. So he asks Balaam to put a curse on them.

Balaam tells Balak's men. I can't curse them. God won't let me. And when Balaam blesses them, per God's instruction, Balak takes Balaam to another place and tells him to try again. Three times this happens.

Check again, Balaam. Maybe God will change his mind. Ask in another place. Ask in another way. Maybe if we sacrifice a few more bulls and goats.

But, as Balaam tells Balak, "God isn't like us. God is God. He doesn't lie, and he doesn't change his mind. When he speaks, you know something is going to happen. When he promises something, you can bet it's true."

We ask, but we don't listen. Or we rationalize and twist Scriptural principles to make answers into what we want them to be.

We try to manipulate God with our offerings.
Maybe God will change his mind.
But God is God.

And we--I mean me--can choose to follow him, according to his plans and his ways, or I can keep asking him to change his plans and his ways.

We know what happened to Balak when he did that.

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