Have you ever found yourself to be in opposition to God? Is there a time that you knew what He wanted you to do, but you had your heart set on going your own way? That’s the position that Balaam was in. He knew that God had told him not to go to put a curse on the Israelites, but when the request came a second time with the promise of more rewards, Balaam wanted to go. He knew he wanted to go, and God knew he wanted to go. So, God let him have his way.
At first reading it may look like God was in support of Balaam going. If that’s how you read the story, read it again. When the first group arrived with the request from King Balak, Balaam’s response was that he needed to ask God, but scripture says that God came to Balaam and asked who the men were. There’s no indication that Balaam sought God out. God tells him very plainly why he shouldn’t go and deliver the curse: “You are not to curse these people, because they have been blessed” (verse 12). The next morning Balaam tells the men that the Lord wouldn’t let him go with them, but he failed to mention the fact that these people couldn’t be cursed because they held God’s blessing.
Next, a bigger, more prestigious group arrives with the promise of even more money for Balaam’s help. Once again, Balaam says that he needs to check with God and God comes and finds him that night. He knows Balaam’s heart and his desire to gain the money that was promised to him. He decides to allow Balaam to have his own way, using Balaam’s own donkey to speak to him and open his eyes to the error of his ways.
I’ve never been spoken to by an animal, but I have definitely had times of God showing me the consequences of my choices to make my life work apart from Him. There are times that I know that God has given me clear direction and yet I still choose to work it out in my own way. And in those moments, God will use whatever means He chooses to speak to me. Sometimes it’s the embarrassment or disappointment that comes from making a big mistake. Sometimes it’s seeing that what I wanted was really not God’s best for me. When I choose to purposefully move outside of God’s will for me, there are always consequences because God is the ultimate Father who lovingly guides me but also allows me to make mistakes so that I can learn from them. My job is to stay as attuned to God as I possibly can so that I know what He wants me to do.
To be honest, this is often a struggle for me. I want to know God’s will and to live within it, but sometimes I honestly don’t know what to do. But even when I’m not sure what to do, I know God well enough to know what NOT to do. His will for me will never violate His word, the Bible. He will never ask me to do something that goes against anything that is in His word. And He will never act in a way that is outside of His character. He absolutely can’t do that. The best way for you and I to know God is to know His word.
New Hope Church