Numbers 22 – 24
Numbers Chapters 22 through 24 is the story about Balak the king of Moab and Balaam a prophet who was not an Israelite.
Balak saw the Israelites approaching the plains of Moab. Balak knew what the Israelites had done to the Amorites, which was slaughter them when Sihon the king of the Amorites would not allow the Israelites to peacefully pass through his land. Being aware of the power of the Israelites, Balak decides to enlist the help of Balaam. He sends his servants and princes to Balaam and asks Balaam to come to Moab and curse the Israelites.
God interceded and told Balaam not to go. Balaam told the elders of Moab to inform Balak that he would not do this.
Balak didn’t like the answer he received so he again sent his servants and princes to Balaam and sweetened the deal. But Balaam once again said no. Balak was persistent, he knew that Balaam was in good with God and therefore thought Balaam could help him advance his agenda.
Again God comes to Balaam but this time tells him, if the men of Balak come again then go with them to Moab but only speak the words I command.
Balaam became very eager now that God had told him to go, especially with all the money waiting for him. Balaam decides not to wait for Balak’s servants to come again. He gets up the next morning, saddles up his donkey and takes off for Moab to collect his prize.
This angers God. Balaam was way too eager to go to Balak and collect the treasures he was promised, the money Balak was willing to pay to buy Balaam’s opinion.
Along the way, Balaam and his donkey encounter an angel of the Lord who blocks their path. Balaam’s eyes were so blinded by the greed of the funding being offered to him by Balak, that he could not see the angel. But his dumb animal could see the angel and turned from the road to avoid the angel.
This upset Balaam who beat the animal and threatened to kill it. Balaam wanted to kill his trusted donkey of many years because it would not take him to all the money waiting on the other end of their journey.
Finally the donkey talks to Balaam.
The donkey basically says, “What the hell is wrong with you? We’ve been together all these years. I’m just trying to keep you out of harm’s way and this is the thanks I get?”
God opens Balaam’s eyes and he sees the angel and realizes how his greed has blinded him. The angel tells Balaam go ahead, continue on your journey and meet with Balak, but only speak what God commands.
When Balak sees that Balaam has finally come to him, he was pretty excited. He thought now I will get the results I paid for.
Balaam has Balak build altars and make sacrifices to God, but when Balaam give his oracle it’s not what Balak expected or wanted to hear.
Balaam blesses the Israelites.
Balak says what have you done, I paid for a curse and get a blessing?
But Balak doesn’t give up.
Three more times he goes through the process of trying to buy a curse on the Israelites and three more times Balaam blesses them. Finally Balak gives up, realizing he just throwing good money after bad and he and Balaam go their separate ways.
Now that’s a pretty good story, but what I see in it are two things that apply to today and really all times.
One is how Balak kept trying and trying to buy what wasn’t to be. Balak kept searching for an answer that he wanted to hear, while ignoring the truth. Balak was willing to pay just about any price to buy the answer that he wanted to hear.
We do that in everyday life. We ask a question looking for an answer we want. When we don’t get the answer we want, we ask someone else. We have already decided on the answer to the question, the answer that fits our agenda, so we solicit everyone until we get the answer we want to hear. Never mind the truth.
The other thought to this story is how powerful men will use their power to get the answer that benefits their agenda. And the example that jumped to the forefront was science.
Science is wonderful and has brought us many, many improvements. But as with any entity in life the larger it becomes the more corrupt it becomes.
Today science is big business, both publicly and privately.
And this big business needs funding, and funding comes from powerful people and institutions. Powerful people and institutions have agendas. So if they are funding a scientific project they are seeking results that fit their agenda.
So much like Balaam, the eagerness to collect the big fees can blind the scientist to the angel blocking their path. Get the wrong results, lose the funding.
And like Balak, the kings of our time will try and try again to get the results they are seeking, results that fit and further their agenda.
Sadly today there are few Balaams, who have their eyes opened by their donkeys.
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