In a somewhat obscure corner of the book of Numbers is the fascinating story of Balaam and Balak (Num. 23-24). Balaam is some kind of prophet for hire. Balak is the king of Moab, a nation that is rather apprehensive of the nation of Israel. Israel is preparing to go to the promised land of Canaan and has soundly defeated several nations on its way around to the Jordan river. Needless to say, Moab and its king Balak is downright frightened of Israel.
The Example of Balak
Balak’s strategy is to call for Balaam to pronounce a curse on Israel. If Israel is cursed then Moab will not suffer the same defeat as the Amorites and Bashan (Num. 21). So Balak takes Balaam up to one of the sacred high places in Moab where Balaam can get a good look at Israel’s camp and curse them.
Sounds like a pretty good strategy. Except that Balaam knows the God of Israel, Yahweh. Balaam had repeatedly told Balak that he could say nothing but what God told him to say. When the sacrifices are made and Balaam inquires of God, God gives him a blessing for Israel instead of a curse! Four times this happens. Each time Balaam speaks God’s word of blessing.
Balak is infuriated! He’s paying good money for a curse! Yet God blesses instead of curses. Balak’s attempts at purchasing a curse, looking to the spiritual high places, and arranging for religious ritual all end in failure. He cannot buy influence with God.
God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? (23:19)
A Better Way to Seek God
I wonder if we sometimes fall into the same pattern as Balak. Sure, our pattern may not be as obviously pagan or anti-Christian, but in subtle ways have we engaged in patterns of life and religion that are really attempts at influencing God’s will? Have we looked at our lives and decided how they need to go? Have we then attempted to spend money, go places, or do religious work to get God to make our lives the way we want them?
Instead, why not go to him and his Word? Why not seek his kingdom and his righteousness (Matt. 6:33)? Why not ask God to intervene according to his Word and his Will? It may not be our way, but it will be a higher way (Isa. 55:9). It may not be our chosen life, but it will be abundant (John 10:10).
When faced with the difficulties of life, respond by going to God for the answer. Respond by going to his people where they will speak the Word and the Gospel into your situation. Ask for wisdom to deal with the situation (Jam. 1:5).
But don’t wait to go to God and his Word. Go there now. Make it your habit to read the Word every day. Make it your habit to listen to God through prayer daily. The rhythms and patterns you establish now will either strengthen or weaken you in the struggling times. Be strengthened by God and his Word today and every day.