February 28 - Nº 59 Numbers 22:34 – 24:19; 25:1-18; 31:1-54
When Balaam arrived in Moab, King Balak expected him to curse the Israelites. “But I cannot say what I want to say,” Balaam explained. “I can only say what God puts in my mouth.” He was still rattled from his experience on the road to Moab (see #58 - February 28). Even though he did not want to anger the king, the last thing he wanted to do was upset the Angel of the Lord who had wielded a big sword and made his donkey speak. The next morning, King Balak led Balaam to a high cliff overlooking the valley where the Israelites were camped. He and Balaam built seven altars and offered sacrifices on them. Then Balaam went off on his own to speak with God. God gave him these words to say to the king and all his officials, “How can I curse people whom God has not cursed? How can I denounce those whom the Lord has not denounced? They are righteous people.” King Balak was shocked and angry: “I brought you here to curse these people—not to bless them!” “But I can only say what God allows me to say,” Balaam repeated. Balak took the pagan prophet to another place on the mountain that overlooked the Israelite camp. Maybe a new vantage point would help him come up with a curse against the Israelites. But once more, only blessings came out of Balaam’s mouth. This happened three times. Balak was furious. He refused to pay Balaam and tried to send him home. But God gave Balaam another message, this time in the form of a vision. “Someone will arise like a star out of Jacob; a King will come out of Israel. He will have victory and rule over all his enemies, including Moab.” Balaam could “see” that something amazing was going to take place sometime in the future! He had no idea that he was prophesying about Jesus—the Messiah! Although God would not allow him to curse the Israelites, Balaam came up with an evil plan that he thought might cause God to “curse” them Himself. He suggested that the Moabite women go into the Israelite camp and entice the men to sleep with them. They did! Then they invited the men to a festival to worship their idols. The Israelite men were not only unfaithful to their wives, but they were also unfaithful to God. They began to worship the Baal of Peor instead of the God of Israel. Although no foreign nations had been able to defeat them, the Israelites quickly became their own worst enemies. God put to death the men responsible for this wickedness. Next, He allowed a plague to kill 24,000 more Israelites. The people gathered with Moses at the Tabernacle and began to weep. As they mourned, a young Israelite man defiantly led a Midianite prostitute right past them into his family’s tent. The high priest’s son saw this happen. He followed them into the tent and killed them both. That’s when God stopped the plague. God instructed Moses to lead the Israelite army into war against the Moabites and Midianites to avenge all the evil they had caused. The Israelites won easily. They killed the Midianite men, as well as the women who had enticed the Hebrew men to sin, but not a single Hebrew soldier died in the battle. (One of the men who did die that day was Balaam!)
Do you ever feel like you are your own worst enemy? Do the choices you make bring light and joy into your life, or do they sometimes lead to darkness and pain? We must always choose to serve and obey God if we want peace in our lives.