Rabbi Ken Alpren
Summary by Teresa Bennett, Pharm.D.
June 26, 2010
Numbers 22:5-8, He sent messengers to Bil'am the son of B'or, at P'tor by the [Euphrates] River in his native land, to tell him, "Listen, a people has come out of Egypt, spread over all the land and settled down next to me. 6 Therefore, please come, and curse this people for me, because they are stronger than I am. Maybe I will be able to strike them down and drive them out of the land, for I know that whomever you bless is in fact blessed, and whomever you curse is in fact cursed." 7 The leaders of Mo'av and Midyan left, taking with them the payment for divining, came to Bil'am and spoke to him the words of Balak.
King Balak entreated Bil’am to curse Israel. He sent messengers to bribe him. When first approached, Bil’am sought G-d’s counsel and was told not to go. King Balak then persisted and sent more messengers with more money for Bil’am. Bil’am then sought the L-rd to see what else He had to say. Perhaps He would allow him to go after all and indeed He did allow him to go, but His anger flared up against Bil’am because he went.
Bil’am had his mind made up about going to curse Israel at the request of King Balak. So, upon Bil’am second request, G-d permitted him to go. But then His anger flared against Bil’am. Why would G-d tell Bil’am to go and then get angry with his going?
What am I called to do and then don’t do? What do I choose instead of obeying G-d’s perfect will for me? What else does G-d allow me to do even though He isn’t pleased with my decision? Even so, G-d can allow or permit our decision; our disobedience, but He can also redeem it. He can reestablish and restore what is lost! We can turn back to Him in humility and choose to be obedient.
Bil’am was blinded by his greed and covetousness. He didn’t listen to the L-rd. He persisted in his will to go and G-d would not allow him to curse His people. Remarkably, G-d used a donkey to accomplish His will; a talking donkey no less! G-d can use anything to work His way in this world and in our lives.
Numbers 22:12 God answered Bil'am, "You are not to go with them; you are not to curse the people, because they are blessed." The Hebrew word for curse here is ‘arar meaning to bind, made powerless and to immobilize. Whereas the word for blessed is barak which means to kneel; in humility upon kneeling the recipient is endued with power for success. When we are humbled under G-d’s power we are in a position to receive His blessing.
Conversely, when we are proud as will Bil’am He will resist us! Bil’am had his own agenda and was intent upon his own purpose. Even the donkey had more discernment than Bil’am!
Numbers 22:31 Then ADONAI opened Bil'am's eyes, so that he could see the angel of ADONAI standing in the way with his drawn sword in his hand, and he bowed his head and fell on his face.
What does the L-rd want to open our eyes to see?
There are four revelations our open eyes should ponder this week. Firstly, the finished work of Messiah. The work is done and we are complete in Him. When we recognize this and know we are truly blessed we will experience an explosion in our hearts for Him. See Colossians 2:10. Secondly, our eyes need to be open to the Hebraic roots of our faith; the reality of our faith is Hebraic not Hellenistic. See Romans 11 and Ephesians 1:17. Thirdly, we need to see Israel’s place in G-d’s heart. G-d disciplines and restores; He will never relinquish His promises to Israel. He will never give up on them or us. Fourthly, our eyes need to be open to the ripe harvest fields. We are called to be fishers of men, to share our faith and be a shining light. All of us are called to be fishers of men as part of our discipleship. See Proverbs 11:30, Daniel 12:3, John 4, Matthew 9:36 and Psalm 126.
L-rd please give us hearts to obey you; that we would not want our own way or seek you to tell us what we want to hear as Bil’am. Help us be a vessel of blessing!
Further reading: Micah 6:3-6, 2Cor 10:3-5, Eph 1:3-7, Joshua 7, 1Sam 30:6, Joel 2:25, 2Peter 2:15, Jude 11, Rev 2:14, John 10:10, Deut 23:5, Jas 4:6, 1Tim 6:9-12, Rom 2, Matt 7:1-15, 1Cor 15:46, Isa 53:1,