Numbers 22-23 – God’s Immutable Will
Posted: 4 April 2011 in Numbers

“And the children of Israel set forward, and pitched in the plains of Moab on this side Jordan by Jericho. And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites. And Moab was sore afraid of the people, because they were many: and Moab was distressed because of the children of Israel…..”

Numbers 22-23 is really an extended essay on the immutability of God’s will, and the foolishness, of all human attempts to frustrate it.The story starts out (Num 22.13) with the king of Moab’s representatives being told that Balaam cannot curse Israel, because God has already determined to bless them. Unwilling to accept that answer, Balak then sends a second delegation, along with a bribe, to try and persuade Balaam to come anyway.

Eventually Balaam agrees, and after a not uneventful journey, he arrives in Moab to be greeted by Balak. He is taken to what Balak considers an appropriate location, sacrifices are offered, and Balaam goes off to commune with the Lord. God places in his mouth the words he is to speak, and he returns to Balak where he blesses upon Israel.

Naturally, Balak is not well pleased, and says so, but is told, once again, that it is God’s will to bless Israel, and Balaam can only do as he is commanded by God. After two more attempts to obtain a curse upon Israel, and having Balaam repeatedly pronounce God’s blessing upon them, Balak gives up the project.

The point of the story, of course, is that wisdom lies in conforming ourselves to God’s will, even when it shows signs of being something other than we would like it to be. God will always win in the end, and we can save ourselves the trouble of sinning against him if we behave as though we are creatures, and no gods.

Elsewhere (2 Peter 2.15-16 for example) Balaam gets it in the neck from other biblical authors, but that seems a bit unfair, given that it was Balak who persistently refused to submit to God’s will.

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