Reading #1 – Numbers 23
Reading #2 – Psalms 82
Reading #3 – Proverbs 22
Reading #4 – Matthew 18
Reading #5 – Revelations 5
Numbers 23 – Balaam Blesses Israel. Balaam was invited to come and curse Israel for Balak who was afraid that Israel would kill him and take his land. Israel was by themselves and they bothered nobody, they were simply going to their inheritance. Balak had heard of Bashan’s defeat (Deuteronomy 3:11) and they would destroy him so he hatched the plan to curse them. The thing Balak did not know but the Devil did and Balaam informed Balak about it was that “destruction must come from the inside out”. Any nation that attacked Israel was defeated and their land became Israel’s. But how can I curse those whom God has not cursed? How can I condemn those whom the LORD has not condemned? I see them from the cliff tops; I watch them from the hills. see a people who live by themselves, set apart from other nations (8-9). Israel did not possess a “lucky charm” that would enable them to win at everything they did. Earlier, Israel could have attacked Edom but G_d had not given them the land and were diverted around them. It all comes down to one word, “obedience”. When we are obedient to G_d, he makes us successful in our endeavors. When we chose to be disobedient, we inherit the winds of trouble in our lives and our homes (Proverbs 11:28). As we’ll find out, Balaam showed Balak that the best way to defeat Israel would be through their appetites.
Psalms 82 – A Psalm of Asaph. There is a key element to life and that is, “Obedience to G_d requires us to adhere to his rules and laws”. Indeed, G_d does not demand that we follow his rules nor will he ever force himself upon us. When we get ourselves into trouble because of our choices, G_d does not give us a “pass” for the same behaviors that others suffer punishment just because we call ourselves by His name. The world’s ways say, “IF you are rich and affluent or in places of leadership, we will let you off of the hook if you will ______.” The Devil says, “Live anyway you chose, take anything you want, say anything you want because you deserve it.” G_d says, ‘You are gods; you are all children of the Most High. But you will die like mere mortals and fall like every other ruler (6-7).” Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit (Galatians 6:7-8).”
Proverbs 22 – Wisdom’s Word of Encouragement. We are entitled to our autonomy and no one can take it away from us unless we give it away or sell it to the “highest bidder”. When we misuse our autonomy to feed our desires at the expense of our life, we pay a price for it. Those who plant injustice will harvest disaster, and their reign of terror will come to an end (8). It is easy to become complacent in ways or think as Balak did and unnecessarily bring ruin upon his kingdom (Numbers 23 and 24). The LORD preserves those with knowledge, but he ruins the plans of the treacherous. The lazy person claims, “There’s a lion out there! If I go outside, I might be killed (12-13).” G_d has plans for our life but if we walk in disobedience, those plans will not come to fruition. As parents, we can set the course for our children or let them do it themselves so that we “don’t hamper their creativity.” Setting the course for children does not imply, “creating little me’s”; it is about setting a moral course of direction by our personal choices. If our choices are no good, we cannot expect that our children’s choices will be any better unless something happens in their lives that compels them to change their moral course.
Matthew 18 – The Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. There was an argument between the disciples about “who was the greatest” or, “who’s the best disciple”. Jesus picked up a little child and said prophetically, “I tell you the truth unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. 4 So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven (3-4). To become “like a little child”, is to understand that our faults, misgivings, failures, etc do not stop us from being a child in the family unit. When the course of our life is spent trying to “earn our way into the Kingdom of Heaven”, we are wasting our time and precious resources because G_d does not look at the amount or the value of the prize, he looks at the heart that went into it. When Cain brought a gift for G_d, it was just something he pulled from his garden with no thought put into the gift. Don’t eat with stingy people; don’t desire their delicacies. They are always thinking about how much it costs. “Eat and drink,” they say, but they don’t mean it. You will throw up what little you’ve eaten, and your compliments will be wasted (Proverbs 23:6-8). Everything that Jesus did, said, or gave was to honor his Father, “G_d”.
Revelations 5 – The Lamb Opens the Scrolls. It is a funny thing about life and relationship with the G_d of the Universe and his son Jesus in that we are not given the complete picture of what is going on in Heaven. Job had no idea about the transaction between the Lord G_d and the Devil but, he never surrendered his integrity or his desire to please G_d by following the demands of his wife nor did he confess to sins he did not commit. Matthew Henry’s commentary says, “We need not weep that we cannot foresee future events respecting ourselves in this world; the eager expectation of prospects, or the foresight of future calamities, would alike unfit us for present duties and conflicts, or render our prosperous days distressing.” “You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. And you have caused them to become a Kingdom of priests for our God. And they will reign on the earth (9-10). The lesson to learn is, “live your life to please G_d and the world will either follow you or follow their ways to the end. In the end, the scrolls of our lives will be opened to show what has happened and why the judgments fall against us.