Yesterday our reading closed with the death of Aaron. Miriam, Moses’ and Aaron’s older sister had already passed. We also ended with the Israelites trying to make their way to the Promised Land, asked permission to go through Edom, and are told NO!! Do you recall that Edom is what Esau was called (because he liked to eat… seriously 🙂 Esau (the hairy one… really… he was) and Jacob were the twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah. Esau was technically the oldest, should have received the blessing from his father.. but it was stolen by Jacob. Jacob became Israel.
Chapter 21 — In today’s reading, the Israelites were still trying to make their way to the Promised Land but are being told “NOPE you cannot pass through our land” by the people living in the area. And interesting tidbit is when the Scripture mentions the Canaanite king of Arad …. Arad actually means .. “wild ass” lol!!! HOW appropriate for the reading today!! I am continually blessed to see God’s sense of humor in the Scriptures.
In case you have forgotten … Canaan was the youngest son of Ham, the youngest son of Noah. Noah curses Ham and his descendants for mocking him. Well…. Canaan was Ham’s youngest son!!! Also when Moab is mentioned … Moab was one of the sons of Lot (that he had with one of his daughters). As I have said before … you can’t make this stuff up!!
The Israelites relied on the Lord, and the Lord was faithful. How do they repay the Lord? They complained! ARE YOU GETTING THE IDEA THAT GOD LOATHES GRUMBLING AND COMPLAINING AND GOSSIP!!!! When they (or we) complain, murmur, grumble, gossip … it basically boils down to UNBELIEF and ZERO TRUST IN HIM. OUCH OUCH OUCH!!
Why are they complaining NOW?? They were growing impatient. No one was allowing them to take any short cuts through their lands!! The Israelites spoke against God and Moses .. AGAIN… no bread… no water… we HATE this miserable food you have given us!!! The LORD sent venomous snakes.
Psalm 78 shows us the sources of Israel’s complaining:
- Spirits not faithful to God
- Refused to obey God’s law
- Forgot the miracles God had done for them
The bronze snake was JUST a bronze snake. It had NO POWER. The healing of the people was their Faith. Isn’t it AMAZING that as we are reading about the Holy Week this same week we are reading about this bronze snake??? THIS a foreshadow of Jesus Christ.
|THE SNAKE IN THE DESERT|
|Bitten by snakes||Bitten by sin|
|Little initial pain, then intense suffering||Little initial pain, then intesne suffering|
|Physical death from snakes’ poison||Spiritual death from sin’s poison|
|Bronze snake lifted up in the desert||Christ lifted up on the cross|
|Looking to the snake spared one’s life||Looking to Christ saves from eternal death|
|Information from Life Application Bible in Numbers 21|
The bronze snake was JUST a bronze snake. It had NO POWER. The healing of the people was their Faith. Isn’t it AMAZING that as we are reading about the Holy Week this same week we are reading about this bronze snake??? THIS a foreshadow of Jesus Christ. We will later read that the Israelites begin to WORSHIP (NOT GOOD) the snake!! And, in the NT Jesus uses it when HE speaks to Nicodemous, a very well educated Pharisee on the ruling council in John 3.
(John 3:14,15) No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
We have all been bitten by the deadly snake called sin. The ONLY way we can be saved is through our FAITH to BELIEVE in Jesus. Look at the verse that follows the one above — John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
They looked upon the snake and their FAITH was renewed. They were given a second chance (or maybe it is a 10th…. But who is counting?? … LORD KNOWS HE has given me MANY MANY MANY!! PRAISE HIM.) The second chance was a harder, longer route…. nevertheless, a route. BUT with the Lord leading them, they obeyed. God told them not to attack or when to attack and they obeyed HIM. They were attacked while defending themselves and the Lord allowed them to conquer the Ammorites (descendants of the son of Canaan!!). Then the Lord said in 21:34 “Do not be afraid….” and the Lord had them conquer Bashan from their King Og too. So the land on the East of the Jordan NOW belonged to the Israelites. ONE step at a time they were growing closer to entering the Promised Land.
I am reminded in this last chapter that THE BATTLE belongs to the LORD!! To survive our battles we must learn to BELIEVE with all our HEARTS… TRUST with all our HEARTS, and IN FAITH… TAKE the steps HE shows us.
Chapter 22 — Ok… I have to admit up front that this story cracks me up …. I mean Balaam’s ass is smarter than he is!!! Balaam is a sorcerer (and we KNOW how God feels about sorcerers…not good.) HOWEVER… the king of Moab (Lot’s descendants) in their fear wanted to HIRE Balaam so he would put a CURSE on the Israelites. God intervened. Balaam could not curse the Israelites. Also Balaam was able to talk with God (sounds as if Balaam was riding the fence … well he rode his ass… but you know what I mean) 🙂 . We will read in the future that Balaam does truly NOT have a heart for God… he has a heart for money money money!!
God tells Balaam to go with the king of Moab’s men, “BUT DO ONLY WHAT I WILL TELL YOU.” Balaam gets up the next day and saddled his ass and headed out with the Moabites ….. ummmmmmm… WHAT was the LAST thing God told him??? It appears to me Balaam assumed he was just supposed to get up and go…. God didn’t tell him to leave yet!! RUT ROW.. God is “VERY ANGRY”.
So… Balaam’s ass could see the angel of the Lord… but Balaam couldn’t. Those of you who know me… KNOW I love animals and it broke my heart to read of Balaam beating his donkey that he had always ridden. That donkey was trying to save Balaam’s life… but he just kept beating her!! A donkey NEVER changes route without a prompt!! The LORD was trying to get Balaam’s attention. SO… WHAT do you think Balaam was thinking about with SUCH intensity that he could not see the angel of the LORD??? Do you think maybe he was thinking of ALL the gold, riches, and respect of the Moabites he would have when this was over?? Was he adding up his booty? Scripture doesn’t tell us … but something had him so preoccupied with himself that he never saw the Lord’s direction. THEN the LORD opened the donkey’s mouth!!! Once the donkey spoke… Balaam’s eyes were opened and he could see the angel… big angel.. with a sword… who could have killed him. Seeeee. I told you Balaam’s ass was smarter than he was!! 🙂
I love this story for two reasons.
- One reason is obvious… it makes me laugh each time I read it and KNOW that God, our wonderful God, does indeed have a great sense of humor and HE uses it to get HIS points across from time to time. 🙂
- The second reason is that I hate to admit it but I can easily be a Balaam … taking my eyes off of what is important and can’t see the forest through the trees … or the tree because of the forest. Sometimes it is easy to take my focus off of God and think only about my personal “things” … causing me to miss the great things God has for me. I always find it interesting how God will use ANY thing to pull us back to HIM. THANK GOD!!
As funny as this Scripture sounds we sometimes strike out at blameless people, or animals who get in our way because we are embarrassed or our pride gets in the way. Lashing out at others can be a sign that there are issues we have not given to God, lack of trust, lack of faith, lack of belief, maybe we have not forgiven someone, maybe we are holding on to anger, etc.. Don’t strike out…. take it all to God in prayer!!!
The angel tells Balaam he is ONLY to speak what HE tells him!! Balaam must have gotten the message because he told the Moabites “I must speak ONLY what God puts in my mouth.” (A GOOD lesson for all of us.)
So will Balaam remember the lessons his talking ass taught him through and about God?? Will Balaam’s TRUE character come out as we read further along together? STAY TUNED 🙂
Of course you know I’d love to hear your comments, questions, thoughts, anything the Lord is showing you, teaching you, helping you with. Feel free to comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to put the subject as BLOG so I do not delete your email 🙂
Sharing HIS love,