Saturday, April 23, 2011

Numbers 23 & 24 - The Oracles of Balaam

LINK: Numbers 23 & 24

BACKGROUND

Balaam asked Balak to build seven altars. This was a sacred number among many of the nations and religions at that time.

There are five major poetic oracles from 23:7 - 24:24. God met Balaam and gave him a message for Balak. He could only speak what God had given. Here is the division of the oracles:
1) 23:7-12 
2) 23:13-26 
3) 23:27-24:14 
4) 24:15-19 
5) 24:20-25
See if you can summarize the gist of each one.

Balak's plot backfired because Balaam blessed Israel and foretold that Israel would be prosperous.

The Scarlet Thread of Redemption


"A star will come out of Jacob;
a scepter will rise out of Israel." (24:17)

This refers to the coming Messiah, Jesus. It is believed to be the prophecy that led the Magi to travel to Israel in search of the baby Jesus (Matthew 2:1, 2). Imagine that, a sorcerer predicting the Messiah. God is so sovereign; He can use anyone to accomplish what He has purposed.


REFLECTION


I love this story because it tells us that God is in control! 

God was sovereign because He reigned even over a pagan king and pagan sorcerer. He is constantly at work to accomplish His purposes.

God is sovereign in our lives as well. I remember being with my Bible study leader in college doing ordinary day to day activities. She would often point out God's sovereignty in the little things. As a result, I got in the habit of "being on the lookout" for His sovereignty too. Consequently, I try to pass this on to the women I am investing in. I often say, "God was sovereign today; mark it on your calendar!"

I know sometimes it is difficult to see Him at work in our present lives, but "marking it on your calendars" by keeping a journal of "Sovereignty Sightings" really helps us see His sovereignty in our past to help us believe that He is in control in the present and future.

APPLICATION


You might like to try journaling about two examples of God's sovereignty in your life over the past few months. Remember them and keep them for future reference.

It is also helpful to do a timeline of your life to see His sovereign foundations. I was amazed that when I first did this exercise, I saw how He has used even the most painful things for His glory. 

Here is a copy of the handout I use for this exercise: 

Time-line Reflection Questions

PRAYER


We praise You today for Your sovereignty. Help us to be mindful that You are sovereign in our lives. Open our eyes to see Your hand in the ordinary. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.
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