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Manipulation

Words of Faith Final

Manipulation

Words of Faith 7-9-2020

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2020

Jeff.Hoy@faithfellowshipweb.com

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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Numbers 22

    [7] The elders of Moab and Midian left, taking with them the fee for divination. When they came to Balaam, they told him what Balak had said.

    [8] "Spend the night here," Balaam said to them, "and I will bring you back the answer the Lord gives me." So the Moabite princes stayed with him.

    [9] God came to Balaam and asked, "Who are these men with you?"

    [10] Balaam said to God, "Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, sent me this message: [11] 'A people that has come out of Egypt covers the face of the land. Now come and put a curse on them for me. Perhaps then I will be able to fight them and drive them away.' "

    [12] But God said to Balaam, "Do not go with them. You must not put a curse on those people, because they are blessed."

    [13] The next morning Balaam got up and said to Balak's princes, "Go back to your own country, for the Lord has refused to let me go with you."

    [14] So the Moabite princes returned to Balak and said, "Balaam refused to come with us."

 

        When we think of Balaam, we usually picture a donkey and a cute story from Sunday school years ago.  But Balaam is really a rather perplexing figure in the Bible.  In a cursory reading, we might get the idea that he was a believer of some sort who listened to God.  In fact, he was a renowned pagan sorcerer and diviner.  Ancient sources attest to his fame and his oracles, but he was best known for dissecting animals and divining from the examination of their entrails. Yuk.

        Does the Bible really show respect for such a character?  The answer is ‘no’.  Even when Balaam refers to God as "the LORD my God" a few verses ahead (v. 18), it seems to be braggadocio response.  Balaam is universally condemned in the Scripture for moral, ethical, and religious faults (Numbers 31:8, 16; Deut 23:3-6; Josh 13:22; 24:9-10; Judges 11:23-25; Neh. 13:1-3; Mic. 6:5; 2 Peter 2:15-16; Jude 11; Rev 2:14).   There is also a subtle but substantive change in the Hebrew text that uses a different name for God rather than Yahweh, the LORD God.  It is clear that Balaam regarded the LORD as just another god to manipulate.  It also illustrates that the name of God was too holy for Balaam to know or utter.

        So Balaam was not a good prophet who went bad, or a bad prophet trying to be good. He was altogether outside Israel's prophetic tradition. He was a pagan, foreign national whose acts centered on animal divination and the dissection of animal livers. He believed that he had a way with the gods, a hold on them. To him, Yahweh was not the LORD of heaven but just another deity whom he might manipulate. He was in for the surprise of his life.

        This raises some significant points. 

        1)  Most important is the sovereignty of God.  God speaks to whomever He chooses for the purposes He intends.  As this story unfolds, we will see that God's plan is that His glory shall be revealed.  

        2)  Just because someone claims to have talked with God does not make them a follower of God.  Even God’s communication is not an endorsement.  A person may be a “servant” of God’s sovereign plan even though they are not surrendered to God.

        3) Some will use the name of God in their selfish or pagan attempts to manipulate circumstances, life situations, and people.  We live in a world where a great deal is said to be “in the name of God” – everything from acts of terrorism to the extraction of money from people. Just because the “name of God” is claimed or attached does not mean that an endeavor is of the Lord.

        Probably the biggest thing we can bring away from this text is the conviction that faith is not about getting God’s endorsement or getting God on our side; this is manipulation.  The life of faith is about surrender to the LORD God. Nothing less.

 

         Father God, forgive me for the times I may have attempted to use Your name to achieve my will.  Teach me the life of surrender to You.  In Jesus’ name.

 

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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2004, 2020

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)       

2820 Business Center Blvd.

Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200

Jeff.Hoy@faithfellowshipweb.com

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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.