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Then Balaam answered and said to the servants of Balak, “Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more. Now therefore, please, you also stay here tonight, that I may know what more the Lord will say to me.” (Numbers 22:18-19)

By the time this conversation took place, Balaam had already heard from God that he was not to go with these men and was certainly not to curse Israel because they were blessed. So the question arises, why wouldn’t he repeat his previous answer to their invitation — “I can’t go with you” — if his intent was to do the right thing? Though he said he could not go beyond what God would tell him to speak, it becomes obvious that he was trying to find a way around the prohibition so that he might receive Balak’s reward.

As the story develops, it is clear that Balaam harbored evil thoughts in his heart and God knew it. Still, God permitted him to go saying, “Go with them but speak only what I tell you speak.” Unfortunately, maybe unbeknownst to him at the time, the pagan prophet was running headlong into his destruction. The fact that an angel was placed in his path to resist him with drawn sword further indicates that Balaam was continually working on a plan whereby he could receive the “wages of unrighteousness.”

If we were all honest with ourselves, we could probably recall times in our lives when God has tried to protect us by putting roadblocks in our path and warning to do or not to do — but we followed our own hearts anyway. And when that happened, like Balaam, we probably paid the unfortunate consequence of not obeying His voice. The human heart can always find a justification to do what we wish but the heart after God seeks to please Him even when it crushes our desires. In fact, when that is the case, it’s a good sign we are doing the right thing. So, it seems appropriate to conclude this devotion with a familiar passage that says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12). Therefore, let us choose life.

Blessings and Shalom,  




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