Balaam is a famous character with a timeless message. Life is not about getting rich, and certainly not about using the weaknesses of others against them. Rather, life about knowing God, and helping others to know Him.
By Mark D. Harris
From the earliest days in Sunday School, children learn about Balaam, a magician whose donkey spoke to him. It is a fun story, acted out in person and with toys countless times in church classrooms across America and the world. The story seems simple, as recorded in Numbers 22-25.
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- The Israelites under Moses arrive at the border of Moab on their way to the Promised Land. They had just destroyed the armies of Og and Sihon, powerful local kings.
- Balak, the king of Moab, fears that the Israelites will overwhelm him and his people.
- Balaam is a magician from Pethor, a town near the Euphrates River, who is famous for his power.
- Balak sends a delegation to Balaam to ask him to curse Israel and give him military victory.
- Balaam replies that he cannot curse Israel because God has blessed them. In fact, he cannot even travel with the delegation back to Moab. The delegation returns to Moab.
- King Balak sends another, more distinguished delegation, and offers Balaam more money.
- Balaam agrees to go with the delegation but again refuses to curse the Hebrews.
- On the way to Moab, Balaam’s donkey stops in a narrow road. Balaam whips her to move forward, but the donkey then lies down.
- Balaam beats her more and threatens to kill her.
- Balaam donkey speaks audibly to her master, “Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden all your life to this day? Have I ever been accustomed to do so to you?” And he said, “No.”
- God allows Balaam to see that an angel with a drawn sword was blocking the path. Had the donkey not turned away, the angel would have killed Balaam.
- Balak sacrifices to his gods.
- Balaam continues to Moab, but despite Balak’s continual encouragements, enticements, and threats, did not curse Israel.
- Instead, Balaam blesses Israel, incurring the wrath of Balak.
- Balaam departs to his home in Pethor.
Accusations are necessary for justice, but false accusations are a miscarriage of it. It is increasingly easy to accuse in our modern American culture. The penalties are small, and the payoff often big. But false accusers must beware. In the fullness of time, they will pay for their lies. Meanwhile, those accused must forgive as they have been forgiven.
By Mark D, Harris
“Buy me another servant” the sultry wife told her wealthy, older husband. Within a few days, she noticed an unfamiliar young man carrying a large sack of topsoil in the garden. He tossed the sack to the ground as if it were filled with feathers. Over the weeks, she noticed that his tasks were always done quickly, imaginatively, and well, leaving time to help other servants with their responsibilities. Everyone liked and respected him, despite his youth. Her husband noticed too, and within months put him in charge of the other servants. Soon, the young man was the administrator of the whole household.
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Our worries and fears are not uncontrollable emotions, they are decisions, they are unbelief, and they are sin. Our God deserves better. The answer is to praise Him.
By Mark D. Harris
“Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the wilderness.” (Psalm 95:8)
Exodus 17:1-7 records the Israelites, camped at Rephidim in the Sinai desert, complaining to Moses that they had no water to drink. This was no little grumbling, as they were accusing Moses of plotting their deaths and preparing to stone him. Moses appealed to God for a solution to the problem and for protection from the mob. The Lord provided water, and things simmered down for a while.
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Christians do not walk alone in the race of life. We run with our contemporaries and are supported by a cloud of witnesses. We live in a web of relationships with other saints, and we love, support, encourage, and often forgive, each other. Thank God, for life is too hard to be lived alone.
By Mark D. Harris
In his famous work, A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens told the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly businessman who learned the true meaning of Christmas. Three important characters in the transformation of Scrooge from sinner to saint were the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Future.
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