God Sees the Heart, Even in Narration

Numbers 22
Balaak hires Balaam to curse the Israelites for him. He refuses to go unless the Lord tells him to do so. In fact, he says that even if Balaak were to give him a house full of silver and gold he would do nothing opposed to what the Lord has commanded. It seems that Balaam’s heart is in a much purer place than most pastors today. I spoke with a brother from Alabama at lunch who said that a pastor looked him in the face and told him that all he wanted was a bigger church and a bigger salary. Woe to us if this is our cry! 1 Tim. 6:3-10 has many words for us to heed. We must pursue the command of God and fear him first, for this is the beginning of wisdom. Everything else is folly, even if it smells spiritual.

What has caught my eye is v. 22. God tells Balaam to go to Balaak but to only say what he tells him to. So Balaam goes, but the Lord’s anger is kindled against him. It seems that God here is fickle. “Go. Wait, why are you going? Get back here!” However, there seems to be something to the story that the author intentionally leaves out. He is not oblivious to the fact that he just wrote a verse earlier that the Lord told Balaam to go. Rather, God is penetrating his gaze into the heart of Balaam.

We can say all day that we will only say what the Lord puts in our mouths, but when it comes to it, we balk or run into the abyss of money’s fleeting pleasures. God had to encounter Balaam before he was ruined by the lie of hypocrisy. V. 32 gives us a picture into what is happening in the heart of Balaam. 32 And the angel of the Lord said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out cto oppose you because your way is perverse* before me. Although Balaam spoke with his mouth that he was devoted to the command of God, his heart was perverse. He is the picture of Ps. 62:4 – They only plan to thrust him down from his high position. They take pleasure in falsehood. They bless with their mouths, but inwardly they curse.

Oh that we would be men who do not speak lies with our mouth as our hearts are pulled by the chains of unrighteous gain! Would that we encounter the true God on our way to destruction so that we too might be turned from our perverse ways. Would that he use talking asses to rebuke our folly. Would that we strip our proud vesture for humble robes. Oh Christ stop your people on the road to perdition and turn their hearts to you and may their feet not be swift to run in the sty of the world.

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Filed under Bible, Christian Living, Interpretation, Theology

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