Numbers 22:21-41 (Part 1) – Those Roadblocks That God Puts In Our Way At Times

Posted: October 10, 2016 in 04-Numbers
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Numbers 22:21-41 (Part 1 of 3)

Balaam and His Donkey

Have you ever had one of those days where everything seems frustrating? Everything, even the simplest thing, seems to be struggle. It starts with a button popping off your shirt after you get fully dressed or you find a stain on a shirt that didn’t fully come out in the wash and you don’t recognize it until you are fully dressed and look in the mirror. Next, you can’t find your keys. You left the interior light on in your car all night and didn’t realize it until you go start your car the next morning…and it doesn’t. At work, your computer starts acting up first thing. All the simple tasks of the day seem to take longer than they should. Your frustration builds. I hate that when it happens to me. Everybody has one of those days, right?


There are also stories that you hear of people that missed a car ride or missed their airplane flight who were frustrated or mad at themselves for the delays that happened to cause them to miss the opportunity only to find out later that the plane that they were supposed to be on or the car they supposed to be in was involved in a crash. Sometimes, too, we are not involved in such dire life and death situations but rather it is about moral choices. What if you were supposed to do something that Satan had convinced you was OK to do but that you knew was morally wrong but there were things that happened to prevent you from acting on those impulses. There were roadblocks put in your way that prevented it. Maybe, you were planning an afternoon where you were going to cheat on your spouse and suddenly there was an urgent meeting at work that required your attendance. Maybe, you are a teenager and were supposed to go to this party that ended up being out of control where someone got hurt, raped or killed but your parents unknowing that this would happen but, because you had not done your chores forced you to miss the party. You hear about such things all the time where people are prevented from doing things by circumstances in their lives that later prove to have saved them from being involved in poor moral choices of their own or by others.


Sometimes, though, it is that voice in our head rather than circumstances that tell us not to do something. We call it conscience, the voice of reason, or better judgment. You think about doing something immoral, irrational, or illegal and that voice in your head tells you not to do it so you think better of it and pass on it. Sometimes, we ignore the voice and push headlong into doing what we want to do and the thing we feared to happen actually does happen and we pay dearly for it in shame, embarrassment, loss of job, loss of marriage, or even with our very lives or the lives of others.


It was this idea of God’s providential involvement in our lives that sometimes we refuse to see that I thought of when I read through this passage on Sunday morning. I struggle with this thought so much Sunday morning that I did not write and publish my daily blog yesterday. Some might call it writer’s block but I just wasn’t sure what to do with this idea of God placing roadblocks in our lives that came to mind. It required more thought that I had time for between getting up and going out the door on a Sunday morning. Is God that involved in our lives that He might put roadblocks in our lives to prevent some choice that we have in mind that would derail our witness, or even prevent us from accessing the life that He has intended for us, or even kill us. That is a pretty involved God if that is true. So, I wrestle with that thought in the back of my mind all day yesterday as I went through a whole day of activities at church and in my personal life that had us gone from home from 8:00am yesterday all the way until 5:30pm.


So, let’s tackle the issue this morning as we read through Numbers 22:21-40 this morning for the first of three times that we will visit this passage:


21 Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the Moabite officials. 22 But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the Lord stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, it turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat it to get it back on the road.


24 Then the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path through the vineyards, with walls on both sides. 25 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam’s foot against it. So he beat the donkey again.


26 Then the angel of the Lord moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left. 27 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat it with his staff. 28 Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?”


29 Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made a fool of me! If only I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.”


30 The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”


“No,” he said.


31 Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown.


32 The angel of the Lord asked him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me.[a] 33 The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If it had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared it.”


34 Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now if you are displeased, I will go back.”


35 The angel of the Lord said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but speak only what I tell you.” So Balaam went with Balak’s officials.


36 When Balak heard that Balaam was coming, he went out to meet him at the Moabite town on the Arnon border, at the edge of his territory. 37 Balak said to Balaam, “Did I not send you an urgent summons? Why didn’t you come to me? Am I really not able to reward you?”


38 “Well, I have come to you now,” Balaam replied. “But I can’t say whatever I please. I must speak only what God puts in my mouth.”


39 Then Balaam went with Balak to Kiriath Huzoth. 40 Balak sacrificed cattle and sheep, and gave some to Balaam and the officials who were with him. 41 The next morning Balak took Balaam up to Bamoth Baal, and from there he could see the outskirts of the Israelite camp.


God let Balaam go with Balak’s messengers, but God was angry about Balaam’s greedy attitude. Balaam claimed he would not go against God just for money, but his resolve was beginning to slip. His greed for wealth offered by the king blinded him to the fact that God was trying to see how God was trying to stop him. Though we may know what God wants us to do, we can become blinded by the desires our sin stained hearts that we cannot see God trying to stop us.


That idea of God trying to prevent us from doing stupid things, illegal things, immoral things, and things that are against His will was juxtaposed in my mind against how sometimes bad things happen to good people. That is a struggle to understand. There is the concept of living in a fallen world where we sometimes pay for the mistakes of others in the ever-expanding ripple effects of sin in our world. There is the concept of God taking us out of this world when it is our appointed time in His providence over our lives. That is the point I think is that God has providence and that He is personal – even when we do not recognize it or even acknowledge it. That is a topic for another blog for another day.


However, I think that the point that is bottom line for me today in this blog is that God is deeply involved in our daily lives. He is the voice of reason in our heads. He is the voice of morality in our heads. He is the designer of the plan for our lives. Sometimes, he will put roadblocks in our lives to prevent us from making poor choices that will delay or derail our witness as Christians. He will even shut doors to us to prevent us from pursuing something that is not at the right time in our walk with Him. And, it does not have to be a choice between what is moral and what is immoral. It can be a choice between our timing and God’s timing. We may think we are ready for this job in that town at this time in our lives when God knows that we are not ready for it. We may short-circuit his developmental plan for our lives by jumping into something we are not ready for too quickly and it derails us and delays us from what God had intended for us all along. We may get frustrated with God’s timing and jump headlong into something that we think is His will but is really our own ego-soothing desire. We get frustrated at the closed doors not opening but maybe it is actually God looking out for us and keeping us where we are at because He has some thing that we need to learn before we take our next step in our walk with Him. Maybe there is some weakness that Satan will exploit at the next level if we short circuit God’s plan for us at this level where He is maturing us and steeling us against that weakness in our walk.


So, next time, you can’t find your keys and get angry and all out of sorts. Next time, you get angry at your parents for not letting you go to a party. Next time, you are late and miss your plane or miss a ride. Next time, you think about doing something immoral and something happens that prevents you from executing it. Next time, you get frustrated with God because He is not allowing something that you have desired to happen. Let us take stock and open our eyes and see God. Help us to see that He is intimately involved in the details of our lives. Help us to wake up and see that God does care deeply for each and every one us (even when we are not believers) and takes providential care over our lives. Let us remember that there is nothing random in God’s plan for our lives. He is God. He is Almighty. When we clear the fog of ego and desire from our eyes, we can see God’s hand in our lives. When we think of God having that much care for our lives, it makes Him less remote and more a part of our daily lives. That’s what He wants is for us to recognize that He is God and He is there all the time, not just when we decide to talk to Him. He is there all the time. Let us be a people that recognizes that though God is mighty and in control of the entire universe, He knows me and you personally. He knows you. He knows me. Personally.


Amen and Amen.

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