Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Specialist: Num 21-25

Disaster is looming. No one knows what to do. The boss calls in...the Specialist.

This is the guy who knows the story.  This is the guy who understands all the angles.  This is the amazing guy who understands everything the moment he walks on the scene and has the power to make it all right. 
There are people in every culture that have the reputation for having "the touch."  Balak thought he had his specialist when he called on Balaam.  The catastrophe that was coming was the approaching Israelite "hoard."  He had already seen what he thought they had done to the Amorites.  He didn't realize that God was the one who did it--and I'm not sure he cared.  He just wanted the problem dealt with. 

That's where Balaam came in.  He was a prophet who worked for money.  There wasn't anything intrinsically wrong with that as long as he couldn't be bought.  He worked as an agent for God Almighty (as we all should) and was good at it.  He knew God.  He could talk with Him for you and bless or curse as God allowed.  If you had a problem, he could go to God and get the right solution to fit your needs based on what God desired.  In an era when God didn't talk to everybody, that's a pretty nice resume'. 

Balaam's first answer to Balak was the right one...Take a hike.  I'm not sure why God eventually let Balaam go, but it was obvious He wasn't happy about it.  Either way, Balaam stayed true to His calling as prophet and only spoke what God told him to say.  The sun will rise in the morning, the sky is blue, and God will say what He pleases.  Balaam can't change any of that and he doesn't try. 

We find out in Revelations that Balaam does end up causing problems.  What he does is tell Balak to entice the Israelites with prostitutes and food sacrificed to idols.  As a result, the entire camp falls under a plague which is only stopped with violent deaths at Phineas' hand.  Later we find out that the Israelites take revenge on the Moabites for their intrigue and Balaam ends up as a casualty.  Seems like a tragedy to me. 

It's a lesson in integrity.  Balaam had the greatest gift possible but he honored the money he could get from his work more than the God who spoke through him.  His advice cost many people their lives and didn't save his client. 

Sounds like a fairly modern tale...

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