The tragedy of following God’s PERMISSIVE WILL
February 16 Bible Reading: Numbers Chapters 22-24
Today’s reading of Numbers 22-24 tells us the story of Balaam, the son of Beor, who originated from Mesopotamia (Deut 23:4). He was a soothsayer by profession (Joshua 13:22) and used sorcery (Num 24:1) to bewitch others. He is referred to as a prophet as well (2 Peter 2:15, 16) because God was pleased to inspire and direct him to speak prophecies towards Israel (Num 24:2-9). In fact many of the Jewish writers say that Balaam had been a great prophet, who for the accomplishment of his predictions, and the answers of his prayers, had been looked upon justly as a man of great interest with God.
When Balak the king of Moabites saw the Israelites camped in the plains of Moab, he knew that his people’s fate (Num 22:1-4) would be similar to that of Sihon, the king of Amorites (Num 21:21-32) and Og the king of Bashan (Num 21:33-35). He sends for Balaam to curse Israel with large sums of money (Num 22:5-7, Joshua 24:9, Nehemiah 13:2, Micah 6:5). When Balaam talked to God regarding cursing the Israelites (Deut 23:5), God revealed His PERFECT WILL in this matter to Balaam in Num 22:12: And God said to Balaam, "You shall not go with them; you shall not curse the people, for they are blessed." However, when Balaam persisted with his request, we see that God revealed His PERMISSIVE WILL in this matter in Num 22:20: And God came to Balaam at night and said to him, "If the men come to call you, rise and go with them; but only the word which I speak to you--that you shall do."
Following God’s PERMISSIVE WILL, Balaam almost lost his life being rebuked by a donkey and the Angel of God (Num 22:22-35, 2 Peter 2:16). Balaam was covetous, and desired to become rich quickly through unrighteousness (2 Peter 2:15). The apostle Jude describes Balaam's sin that he ‘ran greedily into an error for profit’ (Jude 1:11). When Balaam could not curse the Israelites because of God’s favor, he gave wrong counsel to Balak that caused Israel's corruption with the Midianites (Num 25:1-3; 31:16; Rev 2:14, 15). However it is certain, that afterwards for his covetousness, God departed from him. He wished to die the death of a righteous (Num 23:10b), but his end was tragic to say the least (Num 31:8; Joshua 13:22).
What is the lesson for us through this real life story of Balaam? If we follow God’s PERMISSIVE WILL instead of His PERFECT WILL, our life will end in tragedy. We have to draw near to God (James 4:8) and seek His PERFECT WILL through total consecration of ourselves. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and PERFECT WILL of God” (Romans 12:1-2).