Reading #1 – Numbers 24
Reading #2 – Psalms 83
Reading #3 – Proverbs 23
Reading #4 – Matthew 19
Reading #5 – Revelations 6
Numbers 24 – The Prophecies of Balaam. After the first two blessings uttered by Balaam, he understood that G_d had determined to bless Israel despite Balak’s insistence to curse them. But little Mouse, you are not alone, In proving foresight may be vain: The best-laid schemes of mice and men Go often awry, And leave us nothing but grief and pain, For promised joy (Ode to a Mouse – Robert Burns 1785)! Balak wanted to destroy Israel even though he had no reason to be afraid because Israel had not threatened them. It is important to note that Moab was a descendant of Abraham’s cousin Lot (Genesis 19:30-38). Eventually, Moab would be crushed by David King of Israel. In previous prophecies, Balaam had used divination which is the practice of “foretelling future events by occultic practices or, “necromancing”. When Balaam saw the work of G_d from the outside, the spirit of the Lord came upon him and uttered a blessing that, if Israel had heard it first hand, would have catapulted the nation to higher places in the Kingdom of Heaven. In the same way, in our life today, we do not see G_d’s deliverance and we do not always hear his comments about us because we would become complacent believing we had the “golden ticket”. The nation did not know that Balaam was even watching them so, Balaam’s words did not come from Moses nor any of his leadership or people. This is important because it implies the word came from the Lord, it was pure, and it is true. Balaam had connections to Israel but was not from the family. The next words out Balaam’s mouth by the same spirit that blessed Israel was the demise of Moab by the hands of a future king of Israel/Judah (15-19). Balaam was not a “Prophet of G_d” simply a vessel by which the message of G_d was transmitted. Matthew Henry’s commentary says, “No man could seem to express a greater respect to God; yet he had no true fear of him, love to him, nor faith in him; so far a man may go toward heaven, and yet come short of it at last (15).”
Psalms 83 – Psalm of Asaph. Fear of what people are doing or preparing against you will cause you to react in two different ways depending on whether or not the attack is justified. The spies sent out from Joshua were told how the people of Jericho were shaking with fear; Jericho was known for its illicit behavior (Joshua 2:8-11). Balak’s failed attempt to curse Israel would come back to cause the nation to be destroyed by the King of Israel years later (Numbers 24:15-19). When we come under the microscope of judgment, we need to thoroughly look at our life without justifying our actions, changing the meaning of words to appear innocent in our eyes, and by it come to apologize for our indiscretions, and repent or do a 180-degree turn. When we search our hearts because of the judgment if we find that we did nothing wrong then we can sit quietly trusting G_d will show the way through it. For this reason, Jesus said “But before all this occurs, there will be a time of great persecution. You will be dragged into synagogues and prisons, and you will stand trial before kings and governors because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me. So don’t worry in advance about how to answer the charges against you, for I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply or refute you (Luke 21:12-15).” Let them be ashamed and terrified forever. Let them die in disgrace. they will learn that you alone are called the LORD, that you alone are the Most High, supreme over all the earth (17-18).
Proverbs 23 – Becareful of What You Do. There is a truth about life that is important to note and that is, “You are responsible for what you do, how you do it, and who you do it with.” Life will offer many opportunities that appear non-threatening yet, beneath the exterior veil lies a deeper plan. You are not judged by the ways of the world but by the paths you have chosen to walk on. While dining with a ruler, pay attention to what is put before you. If you are a big eater, put a knife to your throat; don’t desire all the delicacies, for he might be trying to trick you (1-3). Knowing when to quit is a difficult line to draw especially when it comes to garnering wealth (4). Understand this, the Devil will stop at nothing to see that we are destroyed and that we do it by our own hands. Judas’ demise is an illustration of how the Devil works by inviting him to a meal. Judas was a thief so it is reported (John 12:5-6). Being a thief made 30 pieces of silver sound pretty enticing. The Devil will always play to your appetite or what gets your mind to turn. After we have given into our appetites and have gotten ourselves into trouble, it is too late to question our motives and then we pay the price. In the end, it bites like a poisonous snake; it stings like a viper. You will see hallucinations, and you will say crazy things. You will stagger as a sailor tossed at sea, to a swaying mast. And you will say, “They hit me, but I didn’t feel it. I didn’t even know it when they beat me up. When will I wake I can look for another drink (32-35)
Matthew 19 – Oh the Paths We Take. The Pharisees and Sadducees came to test Jesus by interjecting their version of Torah law. In Hebrew culture, it is a common practice to discuss the Torah, Neviim, and Ketuvim to always stay connected with G_d and with each other (hillel.org). So, the religious leader’s proposed questions were expected. The problem comes down to the “reason for their questions”. It was in essence a “trap”. Proverbs encourage us to “think before we speak” (Proverbs 16:23-33). Jesus knew the TNK like the back of his hand yet, he also understood the warning to watch out for “wolves in sheep’s clothing”. Jesus’ answers to the questions were not based on his understanding, it was based on what the Torah said. “Then why did Moses say in the law that a man could give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away?” they asked. Jesus replied, “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended. And I tell you this, whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery—unless his wife has been unfaithful (7-9). Consider the “Bathroom Scale” when you weigh yourself, you should make sure you balance the scale to get an accurate weight. This same concept applies to our spiritual life because we need to daily balance our life or “zero it out” by seeing what G_d has to say about us and where we are going. We may not like what the Word of G_d has to say but we need to know that it is neither for us nor against us simply a “plum-line”.
Revelations 6 – The Six Seals Are Opened. This segment, like others in Revelations, is difficult to decipher. The encouragement I would have for anybody reading this is, “do not read into the book what is not present. The first horse, the “White Horse” went out to win many battles and gain the victory. Zondervan’s Commentary cites this, “One long-established interpretation understands this of the victorious progress of the gospel, the rider on the white horse is Christ (1). For a while, the disciples of Christ Jesus would rock the 1st century by the power of the Gospel and many would be saved but, a time would come when that door would be shut. The second horse “firey red” was sent to destroy the earth by starting fights from the inside. When a nation is invaded, it will rise to fight the invaders and the people would rally against it. The Devil will always start working from the inside because, if tensions rise between members the work will stop. Consider the “Tower of Babel” at first, the people worked willingly until confusion entered the picture then people stopped working and dispersed. Following the civil war, a nation is decimated and is unable to do anything as we would not know who to trust(Luke 12:53). The Black horse represented a time for rationing as the resources dwindled. When we grow used to having an over-abundance, we do not think about what it would be like to lose everything. When troubles are miles away from us, we do not consider them as being “important” until the fires of trouble enter our home then we complain. The power of Rome would end but not in the way Israel expected. The fourth seal “Pale Green Horse” (7-8) represented “gangrene” which is an infection that first begins with a wound that is not treated. When gangrene sets in, it takes over everything one piece at a time. The fifth seal was the reward for those who had been martyred (10-12). Remember this and write it on page one of the book of Revelations, this was given as an encouragement to the dispersed nation under the microscope of Rome of whom John the Revelator was a member. The sixth seal was the defeat of the invaders that would utterly decimate Rome. Rome’s power was crushed by the Germanic forces in 476 CE and was no more.