I was so tempted to make my blog a commentary on the fact that God had to tell Israelite men to bury their business instead of leaving it around to stink up the camp. However, I decided to go for something a bit more refined.
This has to rank right up there as one of those "horrifying" chapters in the Old Testament that make us cringe and want to run to the "safety" of Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild in the New Testament. But there is a lot going on here, and I would suggest that there is much more going on than meets the eye.
If you’ve already read the chapter for today, you might be wondering how you can find the "fairness" element in it. It’s a pretty gruesome chapter. The men of Israel went off whoring with some Moabite women — who subsequently took them to church in order to offer sacrifices to their god, Baal. What happened next wasn’t pretty: the ringleaders of this little jaunt were killed and publicly exposed, an Israelite man and Moabite woman were both run through with a sword and killed after acting in open defiance against the Lord’s command, and then a subsequent plague killed thousands of people.
Sometimes, I get these tiny glimpses of God and see, once again, just how far removed He is from our human nature. I find Him acting in ways that are totally contrary to how I would act, and I’m in awe all over again! There was another such wonderful glimpse for me in this chapter. Balaam is still blessing Israel. By the time this chapter is over, he will have handed out seven blessings — ah, such a Biblical number!
I love this! Right on the heels of yesterday’s blog, God is not a manipulator, comes today’s message: Neither can He be manipulated by others! Both of these are important, right? We don’t want God to be someone who pulls puppet strings and manipulates us. But neither do we want Him to be someone that we can push around.
Here’s what I love about this chapter: it proves that God is not a manipulator. He’s not a control freak. He doesn’t stack His own deck. How do I know that? The story of Balaam shows just how few options God really had for "prophets." Prophets are the people who are supposed to be in tune with God, the ones who will listen to Him. And what do we find in Numbers 22? A donkey was more attuned to God’s presence than Balaam: "When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, it turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat it to get it back on the road." (vs 23)