Friday, March 15, 2013

Unconditional Love and Irreversible Blessing

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Friday, March 15, 2013:  Numbers 22:21-23:30

19 “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent.  Has He said, and will He not do?  Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?  20 Behold, I have received a command to bless; He has blessed, and I cannot reverse it.  21 “He has not observed iniquity in Jacob, nor has He seen wickedness in Israel.  The Lord his God is with him, and the shout of a King is among them.  Numbers 23:19-21 (NKJV)

The story of Balaam the prophet is unusual and fascinating.  First off, Balaam was a pagan prophet -- a diviner -- an occultist!  That's a mind-blower because God used this guy!  The elders of Moab and Midian (enemies of God's people) had hired him to conjure curses against Israel.  Elsewhere in Scripture, Balaam is consistently cast in the worst kind of light (see II Pet. 2:15, Jude 11, and Rev. 2:14).  Yet, to our amazement, God comes to him and gives him fantastic prophetic words to speak over Israel!  This just goes to show that God can use anyone!  Even your pagan boss at work, or your heathen neighbor, or even the donkey down the street. 

Balaam delivers significant words over Israel.  They are clear words about how God's blessing works.  Too often, we are "curse-oriented" while God is "blessing-oriented."  Here are important truths about God's blessing:

1. Truth Number 1:  Unconditional Love (22:12)

The first thing God tells Balaam about Israel is "THEY ARE BLESSED" (22:12).  It seems that Balaam's attempts to curse Israel are doomed, because a PRIOR BLESSING already resides on God's people.  We might ask, where does that blessing come from?  Does it come from their spotless performance of fidelity to the covenant?  Dont' think so!  Does is come from their constant attitude of submission?  Of course not.  So from whence does this blessing come?  What brought it and what keeps it.  Answer:  the blessing comes from the sovereign choice of God!  He had chosen Israel -- despite their bad attitude, despite their waywardness, despite their sinfulness.  THEY WERE CHOSEN LOVED BY GOD UNCONDITIONALLY.  This is echoed in Deuteronomy 7:7-8: 

The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but, because the Lord loves you, and would keep the oath, which He swore to your fathers...

God says that He has chosen to bless them because of his covenant love for them.

2.  Truth Number 2:  The Blessing is Irreversible (23:20)

Balaam actually tries to curse Israel and is unable to do so.  We need to remember that.  THE BLESSING IS STRONGER THAN THE CURSE.  Balaam surprises us with unusual insight into the God of Israel.  He tells us GOD DOESN'T LIE.  He's not like us.  When He blesses someone, it has sticking power.  It is IRREVERSIBLE.  That's the way it's stated. 

So many people walk around believing that some how some way they walk under a curse.  God says that if you are in Christ, you walk under an unbreakable, irreversible blessing!

Here's the proof:  God says that "He has not observed iniquity in Jacob, nor has He seen wickedness in Israel" (23:21).  This is the same people who years before had formed a golden calf.  Throughout the previous 30 odd years, they had grumbled and complained endlessly.  Yet God says He sees no iniquity or wickness in them.  Amazing!

3.  Blessing Us Pleases God (24:1)

It's really all about the glory of God.  We humans are deluded into thinking everything is about us.  But the center of the universe is God and His glory.  Balaam saw "that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel." 

Having a God-centered outlook is so important.  God uses a pagan to teach us about Himself.  Balaam's personal story is not a good one.  But, he comes to us through the pages of Scripture to tell us about a higher level of blessing to which God has called us.  Let's walk in that.

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