Today’s Tasting: Numbers 21-22 (NIV): The Israelites continued their march in the wilderness. They were attacked by an enemy king, but gained victory after pleading with God to deliver the enemy into their hands. So they kept their vow to God to destroy the enemy people and their towns. It isn’t long after that that they again became impatient with God and Moses, complaining that they had no bread and no water. They even cursed the manna that God had miraculously provided each day for their nourishment. They continued to speak against their leadership, bringing swift punishment from God in the form of stinging, poisonous snakes, which killed many people. So the people came to Moses and repented, and Moses prayed for them. God instructed Moses to form a bronze snake and attach it to a pole. Those who were bitten had only to look up at the bronze snake and they would not die.
As the Israelites advanced through the wilderness, Balak, the king of Moab, fearing the power of the Israelites, sent for Balaam to come and curse them so they would not take over his land. Balaam sought God’s direction and was told not to go and not to curse the Israelites, because they were blessed. So he refused the king’s offer. The king multiplied the reward and offered to do anything if Balaam would come and curse the Israelites for him. Balaam sought God’s counsel once again and God relented, allowing him to go to the king, but only on the condition that Balaam must speak only what God told him to say.
Balaam travelled to meet the king but something in his heart must have changed because the Lord was very angry with him and opposed his journey along the path three separate times. His donkey was able to see the angel of the Lord step into the path and block the way each time. When that happened, the donkey stopped and refused to move, but Balaam’s spiritual eyes were shut. Balaam beat his donkey each time for making a fool out of him. Finally the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth and it spoke to Balaam, defending its innocence. Then God opened Balaam’s eyes and he saw the angel of the Lord. The angel told him that he was being opposed because his path was reckless before God. He reminded Balaam to speak to Balak only what God would tell him to say.
Today’s Nourishment: Today’s reading made me think about perspective. We each view life from our own perspective and often our view is rooted in the condition of our heart. The Israelites had a collective perspective rooted in rebellion toward God and Moses. King Balak saw the Israelites as an enemy people who would take over his land. Balaam saw a chance to profit even though God’s instructions to him were very clear. The donkey seemed to have the only right perspective. It was a faithful servant, following in its life’s purpose, and was able to see through spiritual eyes from a pure heart when the angel of the Lord was present on the path. The donkey did no wrong but it got caught in the middle because its master’s eyes were not yet open to what God was doing. Some of us might be in that same tough position today.
Jesus tells us that He only did what He saw His Father in heaven doing (see John 5:19). This was possible because His heart was always right before God so His spiritual eyes were open. We are not without sin as Jesus was, but God has given us the very same opportunity to communicate with Him, through His word, through prayer and within our spirits.
We can keep the lines of communication open by keeping our hearts, minds, attitudes and words right before God, by daily making it a point to hear from Him, confessing our wrong actions and thoughts to Him. If we worship Him and seek His counsel His provision will also come to us. Murmuring or complaining like the Israelites often did dishonors God and keeps us out of faith with Him. I encourage you to ask Him to change your perspective, if necessary, in order to see your life’s purpose as He sees it, as He has planned it. Then set out to be a faithful servant, living out your purpose, with your spiritual eyes wide open to see His glory.
Tomorrow’s Delight: Numbers 23-25
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