Peace and Safety Can Lead To…
I just love this Torah portion. For one thing, it brings back some great memories of Vacation Bible School. To consider the dedication of the ladies, of blessed memory, who gave so much to a bunch of children who were more interested in snack time than anything else. Now that I think about it, they must have gone home in the afternoons exhausted and wondering if any of those children really heard a single word. One did and that one is very grateful today for the time and effort they placed in me.
Now anyone who remembers those “Good ole days” of VBS remembers flannel graph. (Just days removed from cave writing!) We could always count on the story of Balaam, Balak and the donkey. It is funny to me that after all these years I still get Balaam and Balak mixed up. I’ve got the donkey down though.
So much for a trip down memory lane; let’s dive in.
After all those years in the wilderness of testing and failing, it seems the Hebrews were enjoying a time of rest and relaxation in final preparation for entering the Promised Land. Life was good and there was nothing over the horizon they needed to be concerned about, right? Truth is, trouble was much closer than the horizon. It was right there in “them there” hills just above the camp!
This Torah portion is unique in that the events happened without anyone in the camp, including Moshe, knowing anything about it. They were oblivious to the plans of the enemy working through a power hungry king and a prophet who was more interested in money than righteousness. They completely missed the spiritual battle that occurred beyond their natural sight. They were not privy to some of the most amazing words spoken over them in Numbers chapters 23 and 24.
Let’s look at two verses of the prophecies. The first is in Numbers 23:9. Israel must be willing to stand alone and not be like or a part of the nations around her. How is Israel doing today in fulfilling that prophecy? You might be questioning, am I talking about Israel, the Land; Israel, the Jews in the Land; or Israel, a people still scattered to the four corners of the earth? Of course the answer is “yes”, but consider it a bit closer to home. How is the part of Israel that looks back at you in the mirror in the morning doing with this one?
The next verse is really a favorite. Numbers 24:5 is the declaration of how Yah, spoken through the “prophet,” saw Israel’s tents and homes. Take a moment and read the words then ask yourself this question, “As Yah looks upon your life and home today, what are the words He is speaking?” Are these same words echoing from His lips today?
In the end Balak was defeated, Balaam went back to his prophet for hire business and the donkey was put out to pasture to live out the rest of his life in peace as a bit of a celebrity to the other animals in the field. Enemy defeated. All is good, right? Not so fast.
What did this time of peace, prosperity and lack of fighting in the camp bring? It brought complacency. The motto in the camp could have been, “Living life in peace and safety.” Guess what? Sudden destruction was breathing down upon them as the very words were spoken.
What does this have to do with us today? Consider some fairly recent history: Ronald Reagan and the Berlin Wall, the breakup of the Soviet Union, George W. Bush and the destruction of the regime of Saddam Hussein, and Donald Trump with North Korea. I see good jobless numbers and a prospering economy. What do all those events and a list of others have in common; complacency in the people of Yah.
This weekend I will be at Revive in Jacksonville, Florida. Two years ago I was asked a question by a friend regarding what I thought was the greatest need in Yah’s people. My immediate answer was discernment. If asked the same question this year, my answer will be…to understand the complacency many people are walking in and get our focus back to the Land and the Messiah who is calling us home.
Accuse me of doom and gloom if you want, but I see trouble in “them there” hills called the world around us. Yes, I see His favor upon His people in many ways, but not understanding the purpose of that favor can lead to sudden destruction rather than peace and safety in the camp!
Let us not let our guard down. Proverbs 4:23 reminds us, “Above everything else, guard your heart; for it is the source of life’s consequences.” Live life, enjoy His favor, but remember, exile is not a playground, exile is a battleground! The enemy never stops roaming to find those he can devour. One of his greatest tactics is complacency!
Shalom and Be Strong,
Joined To HaShem
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