Torah Portion: Balak B’midbar (Numbers) 22:2-25:9
HafTorah: Micah 5:6-6:8
Tonight we read the Torah portion Balak, which covers mainly the effort of Balak, King of Moab, to enlist the help of a gentile seer named Balaam to curse Israel. Balak fears Israel and wants to use this man, who has a reputation of some spiritual power, to curse G-d’s people. As we read this portion we see a man who is known throughout the region as one who can connect with the spiritual world to bring a curse or blessing upon a person or kingdom. Balaam had the appearance of a spiritual person. This caused me to consider how do we judge spiritualness in a person? Is it by appearance and reputation? Or is it by their actions, how they live from day to day. The Haftorah this week gives us a good guideline for living spiritually. In Micah 6:8 we read, “This is what the L-rd requires of you: to do justly, to love mercy and walk humbly with G-d. G-d hates hypocrisy, a person who pretends to be one thing but inside is an empty shell. Balaam fits this description. He portrays himself as a spiritual giant but G-d shows him that even his donkey has more insight than he does.
So let us look at Micah 6:8 for a bit and get a good understanding of these words. G-d requires us to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly. What is meant by, “do justice?” One thing to note is that this is an active verb in Hebrew. We speak out for and stand up for those who are the weaker, more vulnerable members of society. Justice extends a hand to the weak. We are called to DO justice.
We are to love mercy. Mercy is a quality that prevents false piety and self-righteousness. Mercy shows the qualities of Yeshua exhibited toward the woman caught in adultery in John 8:1-11. He extended His hand in mercy. We should esteem each other and rejoice over what G-d is doing in each of our lives rather than judge so quickly the undone things that someone has not dealt with yet. Never let us judge another person but instead be merciful.
We are to walk with humility. Another way to translate this word is to walk in purity before G-d. Purity suggests holiness. Humility is the opposite of pride. We have to remember what has been given us, not because of who we are but just because He loves us. Humility keeps the focus on G-d not on us. These three things G-d requires.
Balaam had none of these traits. He was a hired gun so to speak. Even his name means, “No people.” His only loyalty was to himself. He was not concerned with justice or mercy and certainly not with humility or purity. He thought he was someone special. So special that when the men came from Balak the second time he invited them to stay the night while he inquired, again, of G-d if he could accompany them. G-d had already told him no. Sometimes no is the hardest word to hear. We have a thought and even when G-d says no we go back again and again thinking maybe we can make a better case. We want to hear something other than no. G-d allows us to follow the path we choose. He does not force us to do His will but we must be ready to suffer the things that lie along that path we have chosen.
Balaam went the second time but he had to deal with the wrath of G-d and was later killed by Israel. Read Joshua 13:22. G-d gives us freedom of choice. May we always chose His path not ours and walk in justice, mercy and humility/purity.