Australia Ministry Trip (Sept 26-November 10, 2017)

Australia Ministry Trip (Sept 26-November 10, 2017)
From September 26 to November 10, 2017, my husband, daughter and I will be on a ministry trip in Australia and New Zealand. The places we will be visiting are shown on the map above - along with the dates in which we'll be in these places (and what we'll be doing while there). Please keep this ministry trip and all of us in your prayers! Blogs will appear daily throughout this time, as I have written them and scheduled them in advance. I welcome your comments - and enjoy them! Just know I will not have Internet access for much of this time. So, I will look forward to reading your responses upon my return. Thank you for your understanding! And please keep reading to complete the "Reading the Bible in a Year" challenge and blessing! I am very grateful to Claire for her faithful blog comments (please everyone - join her in sharing each day as a discussion blesses everyone so much more!) And I am thankful that Claire has graciously agreed to add a bit more into her daily comments during my time of absence. Please direct special comments or questions which require immediate responses to her (on this blog). Blessings as you continue your journey through God's Word this year!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Daily Bible Reading - March 28, 2017

Today's Reading:

Matthew 23:1-12

Numbers 22:41-23:26

Song of Solomon 3:6-5:1

Listen to the Bible

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading:

Uncurseable! That's what God's people are, when they remain fully and faithfully under His Wings and Will! And that is the powerful and encouraging message we find in Numbers 22-23. Let's take a closer look at the amazing story of Balaam (the following is quoted from our book Called to Canaan Vol 3 pp 242-250)

The story of Balaam and his balking donkey has been a favorite among children for generations. The tale unfolds in Numbers 22, where we read that Israel had set up camp on the edge of the land of Moab, their last location before crossing the Jordan River. The reception they received, especially from the enticing, heathen women, was legendary. No one told them that the Moabite King Balak had sent for the most powerful wizard in all of Mesopotamia, to come against them.

Balak feared that Israel would do to Moab what had been done to other nations. No one could defeat Arad’s Amalekite forces (whose very name means “giants”), but, by the power of Yahweh, Israel had! Feeling threatened by the nomadic Israelite multitudes now occupying his border territory, Balak, the King of the Moabites, sought advice from his neighboring dignitaries. No army had stood against Israel, nor prevailed against them in battle in the last 38 years. Fear gripped Balak’s heart. From among the gods, he had to find a powerful curse that would destroy this threat, which is still a common practice in witchcraft today.

The fact that Balak regarded devil curses as his highest line of defense, speaks volumes about their value of witchcraft as believed and practiced by these people of Moab and their neighbors. It also gives a loud warning to us on the “Revelation-edge” of the “Promised Inheritance.” Today, like Israel in Moab, most Christians ignore the dangers of witchcraft, which are stealthfully gaining entrance into positions of power.

In his quest to destroy Israel, Balak was counseled to send for Balaam, renowned as the best sorcerer witchcraft had to offer. The Hebrew word, translated as Balaam, means “one who destroys” is referenced elsewhere in Scripture as the worship of Baal or Baalim (Hosea 2:17). Balaam could conjure the most powerful curses known among the nations. So, while Israel was being “hospitably” entertained in Balak’s land, Balak was privately seeking Balaam’s services, at any price.

A delegation from Moab was sent to find and hire Balaam, the son of Beor (which means “burning”). Balaam was the soothsayer who some claim had once been a prophet of Yahweh, God of Israel, although evidence is missing for that claim. What we can find, historically and biblically, is tremendous evidence of his skill and knowledge as a wizard, going all the way back to his childhood.

The Book of Jasher supplies the infamous history of Balaam. His prestigious and dark career began early. He was just fifteen years of age, when he was employed to conjure up demonic spirits for Egypt against their enemies:

Amongst the servants of Angeas [of Africa] was a youth fifteen years old, Balaam, the son of      Beor was his name, and the youth was very wise and understood the art of witchcraft. And Angeas said unto Balaam, Conjure for us, I pray thee, with the witchcraft, that we may know who will prevail in this battle in which we are now proceeding, Jasher 61:8, 9.

In ancient sorcery, polytheism was practiced. A skillful practioner of the dark arts of witchcraft knew how to appease all the “gods” of their intended victims. In so doing, the hapless victim’s protection was removed, allowing for a successful curse. This was Balaam’s approach, as we can discover from the records of Jasher, as well as in the Scriptures.

Balaam’s first recorded brush with Yahweh took place during his employment with Egypt, who was at war with Zepho of Africa. But, while Egypt won against its enemies, it wasn’t because of Balaam’s sorcery! Rather it was because Israel’s men fought on the side of Egypt, and the God of Israel prevailed. Balaam knew the victory was not his, but was Yahweh’s. Thus, his first encounter with Yahweh made quite an impression on young Balaam.

And Balaam rose up and tried the art of divination… But he was confused and the work was destroyed in his hand, 29And he tried it again but it did not succeed, and Balaam despaired of it and left it and did not complete it, for this was from the Lord, in order to cause Zepho [of Africa] and his people to fall into the hand of the Children of Israel, who had trusted in the Lord, the God of their ancestors, in their war, Jasher 64:28-29.

One of the amazing things about walking with God… is that (His) people are uncursable!

The next recorded mention of Balaam shows that he next joined the sorcerers of Egypt. He moved to Egypt, still a youth, where he continued to climb the ladder of success through witchcraft.  Moses, at that time was a young man, being educated to rule Egypt. Coming often into the palace, Balaam, who may have been much younger than Moses, brushed shoulders with him on occasion. As one of pharaoh’s youngest seers, Balaam’s spirits informed him that Moses would ultimately bring down Egypt. But Pharaoh didn’t heed this warning out of love for his “adopted son.” Perhaps, Pharaoh attributed Balaam’s concern to youthful jealousy.  But whatever the reason, Pharaoh’s failure to heed Balaam’s warning was yet another evidence of Yahweh’s protection over Moses’ life.

Later, Balaam again surfaced, according to the Book of Jasher, showing his fame throughout the Middle East. Under the employ of the Amorite king Sihon, he cursed the Moabites. This curse caused the Amorites to win territory from them, during the time while Israel was at Kadesh, in the first month of the fortieth year from their departure from Egypt. This success was credited to the witchcraft of Balaam. By this time, his fame was renowned throughout the Middle East.

And Sihon gave numerous presents of silver and gold to Beor and Balaam his son, and he dismissed them, and they went to Mesopotamia to their home and country, Jasher 84:22.

Yahweh told (Balaam) plainly that he would not be permitted to curse the ones whom He had blessed!

With that history of success, Balaam was called to bring victory to the Moabites against Israel. The Moabite emissaries found Balaam in Mesopotamia. They attempted to persuade him to return to Moab with them, but Balaam stalled, saying that he must consult Israel’s God for permission. The truth was, that from his prior experience, he knew his witchcraft would not work unless Yahweh was angry with Israel. He remembered his past brushes with the supreme power of the God of Israel.

Thus, Balaam waited and consulted with Yahweh, Who remarkably condescended to answer him! One of the amazing things about walking with our God, as Israel was as they descended the mountains of Abarim, is that His people are uncurseable! Balaam was motivated to curse Israel by Balak’s promise of great wealth. Yet, Yahweh told him plainly that he would not be permitted to curse the ones whom He had blessed.

With the answer from Yahweh that Israel may only be blessed, Balaam sent the messengers back to Moab with his rejection of their offer. He would not be embarrassed. There was no curse that could penetrate the shield of Yahweh’s Protection.

King Balak was not satisfied with Balaam’s answer. Believing Balaam was holding out for more money, he sent more incentives with greater appeal to the covetous and prideful heart. Once again, Balaam grudgingly realized that he must get permission from Israel’s God, or he would not be successful. This time, however, Yahweh told Balaam to go with Balak’s men IF they called for him again. But, instead of waiting for their call, Balaam excitedly pursued the ambassadors from Balak, stepping outside  God’s specific instructions.  He was eager to do what he wanted to gain the reward, yet thought he could do so without entering the “curse zone” of Yahweh, which would ruin his reputation, and maybe take his life.

To understand Balaam’s actions, we need to remember that it was culturally and politically “correct” to acknowledge the gods of all religions, doing what was required by each in any given situation. It was the “When-in-Rome-do-as-the-Romans-do” principle. Balaam sought permission of Israel’s God, just as he had sought the approval of the false gods (demonic spirits) numerous times. It was all the same to him, except that Israel’s God was very powerful, as he knew from personal experience.

Balaam quickly pursued, in the hopes of overtaking Balak’s retreating envoy. And it was on this hasty journey that one of the most amazing stories in all of Bible took place.

Balaam met an angel of Yahweh who blocked his passage through a canyon. Three times, his donkey saw the angel and responded by shying away, crushing Balaam’s foot against the canyon rocks in the process. Unable to see the angel himself, Balaam jumped off his donkey and beat the animal unmercifully. Suddenly, Yahweh opened the donkey’s mouth and it spoke to him. But, so angry was Balaam, that he actually carried on a conversation with his donkey!

At last Yahweh opened Balaam’s eyes and let him behold the angel, standing before him with a drawn sword. Finally, Balaam understood why his faithful beast had shied those three times, saving his life.

Then Yahweh opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of Yahweh standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face.  And the angel of Yahweh said unto him… Behold, I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before Me. And the ass saw me, and turned from me these three times. Unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive. And Balaam said unto the angel of Yahweh, I have sinned; for I knew not that thou stoodest in the way against me: now therefore, if it displease thee, I will get me back again. And the angel of Yahweh said unto Balaam, Go with the men: but only the word that I shall speak unto thee, that thou shalt speak. So Balaam went with the princes of Balak, Numbers 22:31-35.

Balaam, like so many today, tried to appear compliant with Yah’s Word, while justifying his willful disregard for His Authority. Balaam knew not that the Angel was opposing him, until his eyes were opened. Balaam then acknowledged his offense, and offered to return home. But the Angel of Yahweh told him to proceed, with the stipulation that he would only be able to speak what Yahweh put into his mouth.

Demons, as a rule, speak lies; yet, there have been times when demons were forced to speak the truth. An example is found in Luke 4:34, where the demon speaking through a man, said, “I know who You are, the Holy One of Yahweh!” Again, in Acts 19:13, a man with an evil spirit was encouraging the crowd to listen to Paul. Now, the demonically empowered Balaam was about to become such a case. Balaam was an evil sorcerer, but he would have to speak the Truth of the Almighty.

BALAAM’S IMPOSSIBLE CURSE

There was a time when one of my mother's high school student, obviously involved in the occult, interrupted English class to ask her, “What would you do if I put a curse on you?”

Responding aloud for all to hear she replied, “I wouldn’t do anything, José. I worship the Supreme God of the Universe, Who is much more powerful than your curses!”

The class resounded with “Ooooo’s!” at the “ultimate burn” and the subject was dropped.

Even the most powerful sorcerey of the greatest wizard of the then-known world, could not penetrate the Protection of Almighty God.

But clearly, without the protection of Yahweh, there is real danger from those who practice the occult. During those twenty-three years of high school teaching, Yahweh consistently turned the efforts of the Enemy into witnessing opportunities of His greater Power. This is exactly what Yahweh did for Israel in the story of Balaam.

Balaam soon arrived in Moab and accompanied Balak to the “high places” of Ba’al worship. Ba’al means “lord,” but is a reference to Satan. From these sites of devil worship, Balaam would be paid to curse Israel. He had just encountered an Angel of Yahweh, and had been in fear for his life. He had just been told that he would only be able to speak Yah’s Words over Israel. Yet, amazingly, he still tried to pronounce a curse over the protected people of the Almighty God of Israel!

Balaam attempted to curse Israel in numerous sites, all the way from Shittim unto Gilgal. But in spite of his repeated efforts, Balaam could only bless them. Israel was uncurseable.

O My people, remember now what Balak king of Moab consulted, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him from Shittim unto Gilgal; that ye may know the righteousness of Yahweh, Micah 6:5.

From high place to high place, Balaam had altars built for sacrifice, in the hope of appeasing the God of Heaven. Pisgah was one of the seven sites from which Balaam attempted to curse Israel. He moved from place to place, finally concluding in Gilgal, which was across the river and only a few miles from Jericho.

Balaam was teamed with the dark “watchers,” going about at Satan’s command, “seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). But again and again, Yahweh blessed His people, and did not allow any of Balaam’s malicious plans to penetrate His Protective Shield. So uncursable was Israel, while they faithfully remained in Yahweh’s Hand, that Balaam was forced to prophesy blessing upon them.

And when he came to him, behold, he stood by his burnt offering, and the princes of Moab with him. And Balak said unto him, What hath Yahweh spoken?  And he took up his parable, and said, Rise up, Balak, and hear; hearken unto me, thou son of Zippor: God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent: hath He said, and shall He not do it? Or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good? Behold, I have received Commandment to bless: and He hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it. He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: Yahweh his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them. God brought them out of Egypt; He hath as it were the strength of an unicorn. Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel,” Numbers 23:17-23.

But, when God’s people trust and obey Him, He promises to be their Shield and Protection.Within the Shield of the Almighty, Israel was truly uncurseable. Even the most powerful sorcery of the greatest wizard of the then-known world, could not penetrate the Protection of Almighty God!