17 March 2015

BSF 2014-2015: Numbers 22-25

This week’s lesson reveals how wrong motivations can lead us away from God. King Balak was motivated by fear. He feared the Israelites overtaking his land. This fear caused him to turn to sorcery. Balaam was motivated by money. His desire for money caused him to want to curse Israel and to tempt the Israelites with the Moabite women. Israel was motivated by lust. The people’s desire for personal pleasure outweighed their desire for God.

The Israelites are moving again and are on the edge of the Promised Land. Balak, king of the Moabites, sees more than 2 million Israelites encamped near his territory. He is fearful and summons Balaam. Balaam is a sorcerer and a prophet. He follows many gods, but he does not follow the one true God.

Balak sends messengers to ask Balaam to curse the Israelites. Balaam agrees but seeks God’s approval. God approaches Balaam and tells him not to curse the Israelites because He has blessed them. Balaam tells Balak’s messengers that he will not curse the Israelites. So Balak sends more officials to entice Balaam to curse the Israelites. Balak promises to give any riches that Balaam desires. God approaches Balaam again. This time He tells Balaam to go with Balak’s men, but Balaam must obey God.

The next day, Balaam leaves with Balak’s men. But God is angry with Balaam. Why? Because Balaam is motivated by greed. He is seeking riches and is not obeying God with a pure heart.

God sends an angel to Balaam on his journey. Balaam doesn’t see the angel, but his donkey does. Balaam’s donkey stops. Then God causes the donkey to speak to Balaam and rebuke him. God opens Balaam’s eyes to see the angel. Balaam claims he is a spiritually wise man, but he is more foolish and spiritually blind than even his donkey.

The angel sends Balaam with Balak’s men and instructs Balaam to speak what the Lord gives him. Balaam speaks seven oracles from God. Balaam does not speak anything that God does not allow him to speak.

Balaam tells Balak that Israel cannot be cursed because God’s blessings and promises rest on them. Balaam also speaks prophecies about Jesus, the coming Messiah, and the destruction that will come to Israel’s enemies.

Following this, Balaam entices the Israelites to sin by suggesting that the Moabites seduce them. The Israelites’ desire for pleasure causes them to abandon their beliefs, worship a false god and participate in sexual immorality. They worship the false god of the Moabites who live in the Promised Land. God cannot allow the Israelites to enter their new land while worshipping a false god. God sends a plague that kills 24,000 Israelites.

Things to Think About

  • Who do I go to when I feel fearful?
  • What do I desire more than God?
  • Balak was blinded by fear, and Balaam was blinded by greed. Which fear in my life is blinding me from the truth?
  • God used a donkey to get Balaam’s attention. God will use any means to get our attention.
  • When our morals are corrupted, our worship of God is corrupted.
  • Where have I relaxed my standards to justify my own desires?