24–30 March 2019.
In Numbers 24–25, the story of Balaam continues. Balak, the king of Moab is afraid of the Israelites and their military power, and so he hires Balaam (a non-Israelite diviner from Syria) to come over and curse the Israelites. In this way King Balak hopes that he will be able to finally defeat the Israelite army. The only problem is that over and over again God refuses to let Balaam actually curse the Israelites. God tells Balaam that the Israelites are blessed, and no matter how many rewards the king offers Balaam, Balaam can do nothing other than deliver this message of God’s love and blessing for the Israelites.
How we wish our lives today were like this! Haven’t so many of us also gone through similar experiences? We do our work, we live our own lives, we do our own things, and yet other people decide to hate us. Then, even worse, like Balak they convince others to hate us too, and even curse us. They reach out to others, urging and persuading others to come say hateful things, to spread rumours, to curse us, and hurt us. And, unlike in this Bible story, in real life the people who team up to hurt us often succeed in doing just that.
But the good news and the great hope we see in the story of Balaam and Balak is that God won’t allow this type of scheming to truly win. We know that no matter how good we are, no matter how loving and generous we are, we can never stop some people from simply not liking us. And no matter how good we are, we can’t stop some people teaming up with others with the intention to trouble us, hurt us, or make us miserable. But even though other people may do that – even if powerful kings and leaders were to stand against us – God promises that he has his good plans for us and no human being can defeat that.
Yes some people hurt us, and yes sometimes they will win those little battles. But the whole story of our lives always remains in God’s hands. So never forget that despite what other people may do, God still loves you, God still intends good things for you, and no human scheming can ever destroy that. That’s why the writer of Psalm 27 can confidently shout out: “The Lord is my light and my salvation, so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble? When evil people come to devour me, when my enemies and foes attack me, they will stumble and fall!” (vv. 1–2). When conflicts come, we can trust in our friends, we can trust in our family, but best of all we can trust in God – because he is the one who stands by us, and he is the one leading us to great things.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis