Balak's messengers, who were elders of Moab and Midian, set out with money to pay Balaam to place a curse upon Israel. They went to Balaam and delivered Balak's message to him. "Stay here overnight," Balaam said. "In the morning I will tell you whatever the Lord directs me to say." So the officials from Moab stayed there with Balaam. Numbers 22:7-8
I was at a restaurant recently when the waiter brought my meal and said, "Do not touch the plate. It is very hot." Can you guess what my first instinct was? Yes, I immediately touched the plate and, yes, I burned my hand. Please tell me that I'm not the only one who has ever done that before! I immediately regretted it and felt ridiculous for doing it.
Why do we have the tendency to immediately want to do the thing we're told not to do. This tendency is really strange, isn't it? The truth is that temptation is everywhere, and we are tempted every day with things much more severe than touching a hot plate.
In Numbers 22, Balaam is tempted by the king of Moab to put a curse on Israel. Balaam may have been flattered when messengers came to him with a request from the king. I certainly would have been tempted to say yes to the king's request. Balaam was also promised a sum of money if he would grant the king's request. When Balaam tells God about the king's request in Numbers 22, God makes it clear to Balaam that he should not go to Moab and curse the Israelites who are God's chosen people whom He loves. Balaam must decide what he will do. Will he honor God and resist the temptation from the king's messengers, or will he go with the messengers and curse the Israelites?
Like Balaam, you and I are faced with temptation regularly. When faced with temptation, we must decide how to respond. Will we be enticed by what is tempting us, or will we honor God? While temptation may seem enticing, it will never satisfy in the end, and, as we will see later this week as we continue to study about Balaam, it takes us to dangerous paths.
Temptation can often sneak up on us and tempt before we even know what is happening. Because of this, we must be on our guard, ready to fight against it. The first step to fight against temptation is to acknowledge that it exists in your life. When you recognize your temptations, you can better fight it and invite others to hold you accountable. What temptations are you facing today? Write them down in your notes and ask God to give you strength to resist that temptation. Then, find at least one person and tell them the temptation you are facing. Ask them to hold you accountable.
Read Numbers 21:31-22:8 (NLT)
So the people of Israel occupied the territory of the Amorites. After Moses sent men to explore the Jazer area, they captured all the towns in the region and drove out the Amorites who lived there. Then they turned and marched up the road to Bashan, but King Og of Bashan and all his people attacked them at Edrei. The Lord said to Moses, “Do not be afraid of him, for I have handed him over to you, along with all his people and his land. Do the same to him as you did to King Sihon of the Amorites, who ruled in Heshbon.” And Israel killed King Og, his sons, and all his subjects; not a single survivor remained. Then Israel occupied their land.
Then the people of Israel traveled to the plains of Moab and camped east of the Jordan River, across from Jericho. Balak son of Zippor, the Moabite king, had seen everything the Israelites did to the Amorites. And when the people of Moab saw how many Israelites there were, they were terrified. The king of Moab said to the elders of Midian, “This mob will devour everything in sight, like an ox devours grass in the field!”
So Balak, king of Moab, sent messengers to call Balaam son of Beor, who was living in his native land of Pethor near the Euphrates River. His message said:
“Look, a vast horde of people has arrived from Egypt. They cover the face of the earth and are threatening me. Please come and curse these people for me because they are too powerful for me. Then perhaps I will be able to conquer them and drive them from the land. I know that blessings fall on any people you bless, and curses fall on people you curse.”
Balak’s messengers, who were elders of Moab and Midian, set out with money to pay Balaam to place a curse upon Israel. They went to Balaam and delivered Balak’s message to him. “Stay here overnight,” Balaam said. “In the morning I will tell you whatever the Lord directs me to say.” So the officials from Moab stayed there with Balaam.
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