February 21, 2017

February 21, 2017

NUMBERS 23-25

Focus Verse: “Balaam said, ‘Build me seven altars here, and prepare seven bulls and seven rams for me.’ Balak did as Balaam said, and the two of them offered a bull and a ram on each altar.”

Numbers 23:1-2

 

The story of Balaam is an interesting one. Clearly, even though he ends up blessing the Israelites and speaking only what God tells him, an act that, in itself, is a solid example for us to follow, Balaam isn’t the hero of this story. The fact that he operates as a “curser for hire” is enough to earn him infamy in the eyes of the apostles in the New Testament.

But there is one thing that can’t be questioned from this passage: Balaam knew what pleased God. The number seven, in the Bible, is the perfect number, and the bull and the ram were the most costly or worthy sacrifices a person could make. So for Balaam and Balak to offer seven bulls and seven rams was, in essence, a perfect offering.

Balaam knew which strings to pull and so do we. We’re familiar with the teachings of Jesus. We know He loves when we serve the poor. He loves when we obey His commandments. He loves when we read our Bible, pray, tell others about His grace and forgiveness and the list goes on and on. These are good things. These are worthy sacrifices that please God. But so was the sacrifice that Balaam offered.

We see this time and time again in scripture and it goes to the very core of who God is. God cannot be bought. He is too holy for that. He is too big for that. Balaam could have literally offered anything and it wouldn’t have been enough to earn God’s blessing for Balak and cursing of the Israelites. All of Balaam’s sacrifices were to get something. God detests those sacriices.

It’s called legalism. At it’s very root, in legalism, we are telling God, “You owe me. Because I have obeyed Your commands, You owe me salvation. You owe me blessing.” But God can’t be bought. We look at the story of Balaam and quickly jump on the judgment wagon. What was he thinking? Did he really think the more sacrifices he offered the more likely God was to curse the Israelites? And then we run off and serve the poor and go to church and pay our tithe and get mad when life doesn’t go the way we plan. “I am so faithful to You, God! Why is my life hard?!?”

But what is your motive in that? Even if you sacrifice your entire life…just like Jesus says to do…you give it all to Him and live every day for Him. If you are doing it FOR His blessings, if you’re doing it SO THAT you won’t go to hell, if you’re doing it SO THAT you’ll get into heaven with your loved ones, then you’re wrong.

Jesus needs to be our FOR. He needs to be our SO THAT. Why are you obeying Him? FOR more of Him. SO THAT I can be with Him. SO THAT I can make Him happy.

Christ is enough. What He has already done is enough. What is your motivation? Are you trying to get God to owe you something or do you owe Him everything…even if He chooses to give you nothing in return?

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