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March 20

Numbers 22:2-41, John 1:29-51

Thought from Today’s Old Testament Passage:

Despite Balaam's strong declaration in [chapter 22] verse 18 that, "Even if Balak gave me his palace filled with silver and gold, I could not do anything great or small to go beyond the command of the Lord my God," his mentioning both money and going beyond the will of God raises the question that this is exactly what he not only did, but planned to do if possible.

This passage, like many others, teaches us to differentiate be­tween the directive and permissive will of God. God's directive will was clearly seen in the word, "Do not go with them because they are blessed." This is so clear that it will admit no exceptions. But when Balaam continued to press God, God tested his willingness to obey (if it needed to be demonstrated that he had trouble knowing God's will). The test was a condition which depended on the discouraged princes returning one last time before leaving for home. However, Balaam could not wait, per­haps fearing they would not return. Only then was the anger of God excited.

The love of God did not cease at this point but was demon­strated in three more warnings from God that he was headed into trouble. Even though this was enough to straighten out Balaam for the immediate mission, it did not insulate him from future difficulties that God must have wished to spare Balaam.

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Hard Sayings of the Old Testament (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press) 1988, p. 91

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