Wednesday, 27 July 2022

Rebuked by an Ass


Scripture: 2 Peter 2 v 15 - 16:  "Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but was rebuked for his iniquity: 
16 the dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbad the madness of the prophet."

The whole story is recounted in Numbers 22 of Israel preparing for war against Moab, a tribe which was terrified of the might of Israel, and decided to hire a prophet of God to curse the Israelites with defeat. Moab hired Balaam the prophet.  God's response was recorded in Numbers 22 v 9 - 12:  "And God came unto Balaam, and said, What men are these with thee?
10  And Balaam said unto God, Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, hath sent unto me, saying,
11  Behold, there is a people come out of Egypt, which covereth the face of the earth: come now, curse me them; peradventure I shall be able to overcome them, and drive them out. 
12  And God said unto Balaam, Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed."

Balaam told Balak he was unable to comply with his request, so Balak increased the purse, and greedy Balaam could not resist it.  

As he was about to cry against Israel the donkey he was traveling upon suddenly stopped causing Balaam to crush his foot against the cliff wall. He beat the ass but it wouldn't budge. It could see what the prophet couldn't see - a big angel with a drawn sword sent by God to block the mad mission of Balaam.

Then the ass spoke with a man's voice and said to Balaam "Have I ever behaved like this before?" Then God opened Balaam's eyes to see the angel who gave him God's message, "Behold I went out to withstand thee because thy way is perverse before me."

Sometimes we behave in ways that are sheer madness and need a reality check before we run into the sword of the Lord. This is when we kindle His anger by the way we treat others; deal corruptly; engage in abominations; or are hypocritical in our religious lives.

Jesus rebuked the scribes and Pharisees openly for hypocrisy and corruption; He overturned the money lender's (bankers) tables who traded deceitfully in  front of the Temple. At various times this century He has done that to modern banking and world finance for corruption. They have been forced to clean up their act; become transparent and pay huge fines.

Perhaps the bankers did not go deep enough for the whole world's finances are facing all sorts of negative trends.  Inflation is rocketing, interest rates are up, currencies are squealing from the feeling, the poor are much poorer.  

We need to clean up our act in our personal lives; become transparent and open in our dealings with people or we will pay a terrible price for our hypocrisy before God. He changes not. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. If something was an abomination in the Old Testament, its still an abomination now. No human law or fleshly sympathy or leniency holds sway with our righteous King.

Jesus came to show us the way to live and walk and have our being. He is the role model we must follow. Not some celeb on crack or sports hero on steroids. Our King is holy, powerful, sinless and faithful. He loves us and has given us the ability to be changed to be like Him. We must allow Him to have His will in our lives.

It should also be noted that God is aware of everything long before we know what's going on.  His protection over Israel started with Abraham and continues to this day.  He could not allow this greedy prophet, Balaam, to curse Israel for a rich reward, even sending an angel to shut him up.

Our God will do anything to protect His people.  He went to extraordinary lengths to save us.  He will preserve us against false prophets, against those who hate us because our righteousness convicts them for their evil doings, or wealthy TV evangelists.  Let's just trust that their conscience overwhelms their evil and they repent and get saved too.

Let us love what God loves and remember that He loves the whole world.  He loves the sinner but not the sin.  Let us be a holy people, united in His love and purpose, going forth to spiritually turn this world upside down and rescue every soul that can be reached for the Kingdom of God.

In the recounting of Balaam's folly, let us notice that the ass had more insight into spiritual matters than the money-blinded prophet!  However, the words of even a mad prophet carry much weight, and God could not block them any other way than by stopping the ass in its tracks.

Under the power of the Holy Spirit in the New Covenant it is possible to discern false prophecies and bind up harmful words.  This includes the words of fortune tellers as well as self-appointed prophets in the church.  The Lord finds ways of informing His prayer warriors when there are dangerous prophecies being uttered.  Like Balaam's ass, they can be stopped.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we don't need Balaam's ass to rebuke us as we hear the voice of Jesus guiding us. Help us to heed His voice daily and learn what is needful for us to survive everything the enemy throws at us.  Especially Lord help us to bring in the souls to Your Kingdom.  In Jesus' name. Amen.