Torah Portion: Balak B’Midbar(Numbers) 22-25
Haftorah Reading: Micah 5:6-6:8
Today we read a Torah Portion that covers a single event in the account leading up to Israel approaching the border of the Land. There are two main characters in this drama. We read of one of the characters, Balak, who was the King of Moab. If you remember, Moab was the son of one of Lot’s daughters. He was born after the two daughters of Lot became pregnant when they slept with their father after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. In the book of Ruth we also learn that she was a Moabite. So Balak was a distant cousin of the Jewish people who now stood at his borders seeking passage on to the Land. Balak was overcome with fear and sought the help of a well-known seer, Bilaam, to help him repel the Jews by invoking a curse. We can hear the fear in his words in Numbers 22:4,6. He knew his only help lay in the occult.
Bilaam was a well-known seer. Interestingly, in Numbers 22:6 when Balak sends for Bilaam he uses the same words we read in Genesis 12:3 when G-d blesses Abraham. Bilaam, by what we read, knew G-d on some level. He used the holy name of G-d in Numbers 22:18. However, his actions are unaffected by this knowledge. He knew the right way, he knew what G-d required of him but it did not change his choices. In Micah 6:8 we can read exactly what G-d requires of each of us, “do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your G-d.” We see also in Deuteronomy 10:12-13 the same thoughts with the added admonition to obey the words of G-d. In Matthew 19:16-22 we read of a man coming to Yeshua asking what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Yeshua’s response follows in the words of Torah that we just read. However, in this man’s life there was one thing he could not let go. He was wealthy. Yeshua asked him to sell all and give it to the poor and follow Him. He could not. His money was too much to give up. Bilaam had somewhat the same issue. He knew what G-d required but yet the house of gold overcame what he knew to be right. He chose wrongly and died for it later.
All this brings me to my question of the week, “What am I living for? What is the purpose of my life?” I believe each of us has a specific role to play in G-d’s plan, a role that no one else can fulfill. However, many times we become lost on the way. The pressures of life and other things distract us. We become wrapped up with things that, in G-d’s plan, are but a distraction. The obstacles of life get in the way of G-d’s plan for our life, even for our day.
Have you ever lost your way? Have you ever wondered how did I get here? What went wrong? I would pray Bilaam is a wake up call to us all. Our plans, our choices may not be G-d’s. We must always be open to G-d’s course corrections. Bilaam had a choice to make, his desires or G-d’s. He chose his and faded from history. You might be interested in knowing his name comes up in three places in the Messianic Writings. It is found in II Peter 2:15, Revelations 2:14 and Jude 11. In all of these verses he is described as a man overcome with greed and leading others to sin.
My question to all of us is, will we act justly, loving grace and walk in purity with our G-d or will we walk in our own way doing what we want regardless of the truth we had heard and know in our hearts. Don’t let anything deter you from what you know about G-d and His will for your life. Keep your ear open and listen for His still small voice. He has only your best at heart. He loves you completely.
One last thought, in Numbers 22:9 we read where G-d asked Bilaam a question, “Who are these men with you?” In Genesis 3:9 we read where G-d asked Adam, “Where are you?” In Genesis 4:9 he asked Cain, “Where is your brother?” Surely G-d already knew the answers to these questions so what did he ask them? I believe G-d asked these questions to give these three people the opportunity to find an answer and to see the situation they were in. In these three cases they failed the test.
In asking these questions G-d gave them the opportunity to see what they were doing or had done and a time to repent and turn from sin. In our own lives G-d, being a compassionate G-d, gives us the opportunity to change and to correct our path. May we always be quick to seize those opportunities.