Numbers 31:1-18 (Part 3) – Balaam, Donald & Hillary: Three of a Kind!

Posted: November 8, 2016 in 04-Numbers

Numbers 31:1-18 (Part 3)

Vengeance on the Midianites

Today as we read this passage, we meet Balaam once again and it is a reminder that today is Election Day in America. Today, we must make a choice as to who will be our President for the next four years. Neither candidate seems to a person of great character that you can really stand behind and say, “He is a good man” or “she is a good woman.” Each one seems to be more interested in the prize of the presidency than they are about being a good leader. Each one has spent more time since the summer conventions bashing their opponent than they have about expounding on their policy and plans. Each one has dark secrets that have been exposed. Each one says one thing but their history of behavior suggests another. They both seem to used car salespersons who will do anything and say anything to get elected. How did it come to this?


Republicans became enamored with the celebrity of Donald Trump. He has always been a brash, I don’t care what you think, I’m gonna do what I want to do kind of person. His fortune has been built as much on taking advantage of the tax code, using other people’s money, being a media hound, as it has been about his great business savvy. He is a person who will do anything and say anything to make a fast buck. He has used bankruptcy to preserve his kingdom. He is basically a huckster of a businessman. He is like the superstar athlete that is popular with the people but is more enamored with his public persona than he is about being the best athlete he can be. When you look behind the curtain, there is nothing there. There is simply celebrity. He is the Kim Kardashian. He is Snookie. These people have become stars but yet have nothing of real value, no real talent that makes them a celebrity other than simply having cameras on them. The Republican electorate saw Donald Trump the star and fell in love with his celebrity and his penchant for saying whatever came to his mind no matter how idiotic it was. We fell in love with the bully that he was and is. His campaign has been about telling you what was wrong with the other candidates more so than it was about policy. There is not a great vision for America that he has articulated so that we would understand. It was a candidacy about telling you what was wrong with the other candidates in his way. And, because, he was a celebrity we did not care what he was saying just that we wanted to see what he would do or say next. We, Republicans, have gotten what we deserve. Any other candidate such as Rubio or Cruz who seemed to have that vision and drive and were policy wonks, I think, would have easily beaten Clinton in this race. Each had stellar backgrounds compared to Clinton and could have focused the race on the real issues of our lives rather than what we got. Two candidates spending time standing in the crap of their pasts talking about how they weren’t standing as deep in the shit as their opponent. We fell in love with celebrity and we may well lose the election over it.


And then there is Hillary. If there ever was a “say anything, do anything” candidate, she is the one. She, too, is after the prize and what it will mean to her own ego. She has a well-documented history of saying one thing and doing another. She as much as admitted in one of the debates that she is OK with telling one group of power brokers one thing and telling the same story a different way to another group to make a policy initiative become law. She is after what she wants and it does not matter if she breaks the law to get it. She will destroy opponents who threaten her or her husband’s political career. Just ask any of the myriad of women who had relationships with her husband. She says she champions women’s rights but destroyed any woman who would derail the Clinton political train. She says she wants to preserve children’s lives by getting rid of the guns in America but yet she supports abortion. She says she is a champion of human rights by supporting the LBGT agenda but yet espouses that an unborn child has no rights. She says she supports our military but when it counted she let a group of soldiers in Benghazi die for political expediency. She railed against Donald Trump for being seemingly unwilling to sad bad things about Vladimir Putin of Russia but yet at the same time she has accepted millions of dollars in speaking fees, and political contributions from Middle Eastern countries, some of which have been known to harbor terrorists. She has no policy center to who she is. You can’t point to what Hillary stands for because usually at some point in her past she has contradicted her current position. She and her husband have parlayed their political power over the years to make shady deals that have enriched them. She will do anything and say anything and take any action that will get her elected. She is the consummate used car salesman politician. She will make deals with the devil to cover up her indiscretions of the past and it doesn’t matter what has to be promised just so the past is covered up. Deals are made and the train keeps rolling. It does not matter how the future gets screwed because it’s the future. That’s what you get when you get Hillary. A self-preservationist at all costs.


As we wrestle with this question of who our next president is going to be, let us re-read this passage again today and think about how times have not really changed. In this passage, we see how our old pal, Balaam, comes to his bitter end in this passage. He was the consummate politician. He would have made the perfect addition to the mess of choices that we had in this election. Balaam, Hillary and Donald are three of a kind, but justice finds him here in this passage:


31 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Take vengeance on the Midianites for the Israelites. After that, you will be gathered to your people.”


3 So Moses said to the people, “Arm some of your men to go to war against the Midianites so that they may carry out the Lord’s vengeance on them. 4 Send into battle a thousand men from each of the tribes of Israel.” 5 So twelve thousand men armed for battle, a thousand from each tribe, were supplied from the clans of Israel. 6 Moses sent them into battle, a thousand from each tribe, along with Phinehas son of Eleazar, the priest, who took with him articles from the sanctuary and the trumpets for signaling.


7 They fought against Midian, as the Lord commanded Moses, and killed every man. 8 Among their victims were Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur and Reba—the five kings of Midian. They also killed Balaam son of Beor with the sword. 9 The Israelites captured the Midianite women and children and took all the Midianite herds, flocks and goods as plunder. 10 They burned all the towns where the Midianites had settled, as well as all their camps. 11 They took all the plunder and spoils, including the people and animals, 12 and brought the captives, spoils and plunder to Moses and Eleazar the priest and the Israelite assembly at their camp on the plains of Moab, by the Jordan across from Jericho.


13 Moses, Eleazar the priest and all the leaders of the community went to meet them outside the camp. 14 Moses was angry with the officers of the army—the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds—who returned from the battle.


15 “Have you allowed all the women to live?” he asked them. 16 “They were the ones who followed Balaam’s advice and enticed the Israelites to be unfaithful to the Lord in the Peor incident, so that a plague struck the Lord’s people. 17 Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, 18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.


Balaam was a wicked prophet in the Bible and is noteworthy because, although he was a wicked prophet, he was not a false prophet. That is, Balaam did hear from God, and God did give him some true prophecies to speak. However, Balaam’s heart was not right with God, and eventually he showed his true colors by betraying Israel and leading them astray. Balaam was all about what made him look best and what would enrich him. Sound familiar? Balaam was told by God not to prophesy against Israel but there were riches to be had. He followed God’s directive for not cursing the Isrealites but he figured out a way to bend it where the Israelites would bring a curse upon themselves. Balaam figured out a way to get his reward from Balak. Balaam advised the Moabites on how to entice the people of Israel with prostitutes and idolatry. He could not curse Israel directly, so he came up with a plan for Israel to bring a curse upon themselves. Balak followed Balaam’s advice, and Israel fell into sin, worshiping Baal of Peor and committing fornication with Midianite women. For this God plagued them, and 24,000 men died (Numbers 25:1–9; Deuteronomy 23:3–6).


Balaam’s name and story became infamous, and he is referred to several times in the New Testament. Peter compares false teachers to Balaam, “who loved the wages of wickedness” (2 Peter 2:15). Jude echoes this sentiment, associating Balaam with the selling of one’s soul for financial gain (Jude 1:11). Finally, Jesus speaks of Balaam when He warns the church in Pergamum of their sin: “There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality” (Revelation 2:14).


But here in this passage, we find that God’s justice comes to the wicked. Balaam meets his bitter end on the battlefield. He is specifically mentioned here by Moses in his description of this battle because it is important to understand that God holds us accountable for living a life that is not about giving Him glory. Balaam met his fate because his own ego was his god. Whatever was necessary to enrich himself, to preserve himself, advance himself, whatever it was that made him look good was what He would do. He did not care if it was in opposition to God. This life was all about him and what he could get. Sound familiar? Donald? Hillary?


That is the thing that we must remember today AND especially after today. God will use the events of this election as part of His plan and those that oppose Him will have their day of justice before Him. God will be in control. God will bring forth his plan through both the wicked and righteous. God will accomplish His goals no matter if Hillary or Donald is President. We must trust God’s plan and we must trust that He will expose the wicked and that the righteous will triumph as part of God’s plan.


Amen and Amen.

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