Wednesday, February 15, 2006

"What the Lord says, that I must speak"

I just finished the book of Numbers in my devotional reading and was struck again by the story of Balaam and Balak (Numbers 22-24). Balak is the Moabite king who hires the pagan prophet Balaam to curse the Israelites as they pass through his territory. Most folk remember Balaam from his talking donkey (see Numbers 22:22-40). That story has long been a great comfort to preachers. If God can speak through a donkey then surely he can speak through a man with slender abilities!

Three times Balaam rises to curse the Israelites, but each time he opens his mouth, he pronounces a blessing on Israel. Balak is furious. In Numbers 24:12-13 Balaam offers this reply:

12: So Balaam said to Balak, "Did I not also speak to your messengers whom you sent to me, saying,
13: ‘If Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the word of the LORD, to do good or bad of my own will. What the LORD says, that I must speak’?

That is a powerful statement. Balaam is hardly a praiseworthy character (see the negative New Testament evaluation of him in 2 Peter 2:15; Jude 1:11; Revelation 2:14). If a pagan prophet can be captive to the Word of God, how much more should those who know the Lord Jesus Christ!

Balaam’s words should be the mantra of every Christian and of every preacher of the gospel in particular: I will not go beyond the word of the Lord. What the Lord says, that I must speak. Is our conscience captive to the Word of God? Do we desire to live our lives in absolute harmony with and faithfulness to the Word of God?

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