Numbers 23:1-12 – If God is For Us, What Could Stand Against?…Living Boldly For Christ

Posted: October 13, 2016 in Book of Numbers
Tags: , , ,

Numbers 23:1-12

Balaam Blesses Israel

 

There is a song that many Christians know by heart by Chris Tomlin and the chorus of that song goes like this:

 

And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us.

And if our God is with us, then what could stand against.

And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us.

And if our God is with us, then what could stand against.

What could stand against.

 

The song points out that we, who are God’s children, can rest assured in God’s strength and mighty power that we will be secure. He will take care of us. We will have victory. My senior pastor spoke to us this past Sunday about “living in the resurrection.” His point was that Jesus’ resurrection should give us boldness and not timidity. Through the resurrection, we know that we have victory over sin and death and that we are going to live forever with Jesus Christ in eternity. We know that even though our life may come to a brutal end here on earth that on the other side of that is eternity with Christ. That should embolden us. That should give us a freedom to follow Christ no matter the cost.

 

Most of us live lives of timidity. We make excuses for why we cannot live boldly for Jesus. We are afraid of being singled out and ridiculed. We are afraid being ostracized. We are afraid of being killed. We are afraid of giving up the trappings of an easy lifestyle and it prevents us from doing what God has called us to do. When you think of American churches today, we like going to church on Sunday, hanging out with friends, having small group one night during the week, participating in an occasional church event, giving what we can squeeze in among our other obligations related to our oversized houses, cars, toys, and vacations, and that works for us. We are satisfied with that. We rationalize away how others are the ones who can live boldly for Christ. Why can’t we live like God is for us and God is with us and in the resurrection (the ultimate boo-yah to the world – Jesus arose from the grave and had the ultimate victory over his accusers and foes). If we lived like we had God on our side and in the resurrection and really, really, really believed that, man, going off to follow God’s calling would not be a second-guessing thing. We would do it automatically.

 

When I think of my Christian friends in the Middle East, some of whom are suffering atrocities at the hands of ISIS, or simply living lives in the fringes of society in non-ISIS controlled areas of Muslim nations, I think of boldness. Particularly Christians living in ISIS controlled areas are in harm’s way each and every day. They put their lives on the line for their faith everyday. Some are tortured in ways that harken back to the days of the ancient Middle East that are truly barbaric. However, these Christians refuse to renounce their faith in Jesus Christ. They are tortured, maimed, burned alive, crucified, beheaded. They live boldly in their faith. They are emboldened by the resurrection. Their deaths are spreading the gospel in ways that missionaries cannot do. They fully believe in the resurrection and live it our everyday knowing that it might be their last. The know that through the evidence of the resurrection that they too will live forever. They know that this life is temporary. They know that it is the eternal life that matters. They know that no matter what you do to me in this life I have eternal life with Jesus to look forward to.

 

Many of us live life so as to preserve what we have in this life. We live lives of timidity and fear. We live lives that act as if this is all there is. We do not fully comprehend the resurrection and what it means. We do not fully trust the eternity that Jesus’ resurrection proves to us. We do not live in the resurrection. We live lives of quiet desperation and compromise. If we lived in the resurrection, knowing and trusting full well in God’s protection and trusting the eternal life in Christ, man, how that would change our perspective. The quiet Christians of America would awake and risk it all for Christ. We need to trust God’s provision because He is for us and what could come against!

 

That idea of living in the assurance of God’s protection in this life and trusting the resurrected life that we have in Christ is what I thought of this morning when I read Numbers 23:1-12:

 

23 Balaam said, “Build me seven altars here, and prepare seven bulls and seven rams for me.” 2 Balak did as Balaam said, and the two of them offered a bull and a ram on each altar.

 

3 Then Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here beside your offering while I go aside. Perhaps the Lord will come to meet with me. Whatever he reveals to me I will tell you.” Then he went off to a barren height.

 

4 God met with him, and Balaam said, “I have prepared seven altars, and on each altar I have offered a bull and a ram.”

 

5 The Lord put a word in Balaam’s mouth and said, “Go back to Balak and give him this word.”

 

6 So he went back to him and found him standing beside his offering, with all the Moabite officials. 7 Then Balaam spoke his message:

 

“Balak brought me from Aram,

    the king of Moab from the eastern mountains.

‘Come,’ he said, ‘curse Jacob for me;

    come, denounce Israel.’

8

How can I curse

    those whom God has not cursed?

How can I denounce

    those whom the Lord has not denounced?

9

From the rocky peaks I see them,

    from the heights I view them.

I see a people who live apart

    and do not consider themselves one of the nations.

10

Who can count the dust of Jacob

    or number even a fourth of Israel?

Let me die the death of the righteous,

    and may my final end be like theirs!”

 

11 Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I brought you to curse my enemies, but you have done nothing but bless them!”

 

12 He answered, “Must I not speak what the Lord puts in my mouth?”

 

My acquaintance from college, where we both attended and graduated from Furman University, Ligon Duncan is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, MS and he says in his sermon on this passage, the following:

 

“But what’s God teaching in this story? He’s saying, ‘No one can lay a hand on you! No one can lay a hand on you. You are unassailably secure, under the sheltering umbrella of My blessing.’ And my friends, we’re no different than the children of Israel. God has made the same promise to His people under the blessings of the new covenant, and more. And yet we don’t feel secure so much of the time. We don’t live as if we’re secure so much of the time. And so this message is not just a message for the children of Israel in the wilderness, that they would trust the unassailable security that has been vouchsafed to them by the Almighty sovereign God, it’s for us! No matter what the circumstance we’re in at this point or at any point in our lives, if we are resting and trusting in Christ alone for salvation as He is offered in the gospel, if we are His blood-bought forgiven and adopted children, there is no one and no thing that can lay one finger on a hair of our heads apart from the will of our heavenly Father, because we are secure in His hand. That’s the first thing we learn in this passage, the unassailable security of the people of God.”

 

Balaam’s speech tells us that God’s protection is over Israel. They are His chosen ones. They are a unique people who are set apart to be difference makers in the world. They are set apart to point people to God. They will be protected. We are the new Israel. We are the chosen ones through Christ. We must live in the security of the almighty God. We are his kids. We have the Almighty on our side. Why do we live like He is not the almighty God? We have proof that there is more than just this life through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We have proof that God is who He says He is. He raised Jesus from the dead! He will raise His children from the dead to live with Him in eternity. How bold is that? Let us live with a kind of recklessness that Christianity had in the beginning. They did not care if they lost their lives in this life because they knew they had resurrection in Christ. They lived boldly to spread the gospel at all costs. They lived with reckless abandon for Christ. They lived boldly and without regret. We have the same example from our Christian brothers and sisters in ISIS controlled territory in the Middle East.

 

When are we going to trust God’s protection and provision? When are we going to trust the resurrection as a truth and a reality? When are we going to live in the resurrection? When are we going to live with reckless abandon for Christ and not just lives lived in the comfort zone of what’s easy for this life?

 

Let us be bold! Let us be dedicated to sharing the gospel no matter the cost to us! Let us break free of formality and the hum-drum of what is expected and what is safe! Let us boldly go into the breach armed with nothing but our faith in God and our belief in the resurrection. Provision. Protection. Eternal Victory. Let’s be bold for Christ!

 

Amen and Amen.

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