Balaam’s Prophesy

Balak, king of Moab, wanted Balaam (a greedy prophet for hire) to curse Israel, but as Balaam said, “I can only say what God tells me to say.”  Three times Balak tried to get Balaam to curse Israel, but he could not.  Here is a sample of his prophetic utterances:

“The nation is like a mighty lion; when it is sleeping, no one dares wake it.  Whoever blesses Israel will be blessed, And whoever curses Israel will be cursed” (Numbers 24: 9 GNT).

To read all of Balaam’s prophecies concerning Israel, read Numbers 23 and 24.

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Why Did God Chose Moses to Lead the Hebrews out of Egypt?

photoMA31381361-0001Today as I was reading Numbers, a verse arrested my attention.  Moses was a humble man, more humble than anyone else on earth (Numbers 12: 3 GNT). The verse suggests a reason–perhaps the main reason–that God chose Moses to lead the Hebrews (along with many God-fearing Egyptians, by the way) out of Egypt.

It must have difficult for Moses to remain humble and to intercede for those who arrogantly criticized him.  In Chapter 12, we find that even Moses’ brother and sister, Aaron and Miriam, complained about him.  Here is what God said about Moses in response to Aaron’s and Miriam’s criticism:

6 He said, “Hear now My word: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, shall make Myself known to him in a vision.  I shall speak with him in a dream. 

7 Not so with My servant Moses, He is faithful in all my household; With  him I speak mouth to mouth, Even openly, and not in dark sayings, And he beholds the form of the LORD” (NASB).

Can you imagine speaking with God mouth to mouth (some translations say “face to face”)?  Can you imagine beholding the form of God?  (See Exodus 33: 11-23.)

Clearly, humility is a key component in having a close relationship with the Lord.

Here is what Jesus said about humility: Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5: 5 KJV).  Here’s the same verse in the Good News Translation: “Happy are those who are humble; they will receive what God has promised!”


 

* I found the illustration of Moses and the burning bush in my grandmother’s copy of “The Holy Bible” (Southwestern Company, Nashville, TN).

THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT

photoMA31379820-0002This is the cover of my grandmother’s, Effie Bell Butler Wright’s, copy of “The Holy Bible” (The Southwestern Company, Nashville, TN.  I couldn’t find a copyright date, but my grandmother gave this Bible to her husband and family in 1910.

Most of what you read in the New Testament is also in the Old Testament.  Compare the following verses:

NEW TESTAMENT:

Jesus answered, ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and the most important commandment.  The second most  important commandment is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ The whole Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets depend on these two commandments” (Matthew 22: 37-40 GNT).

OLD TESTAMENT:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might (Deuteronomy 6: 5 KJV).

You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD (Leviticus 19: 18 NASB).

Witnessing in the Marketplace

I want to share something that happened to me in the past twelve months that I believe was supernatural–a work of the Holy Spirit.  While shopping for clothes at a local thrift store, I heard a name in my head. (Instead of using the real name, I’ll use the name “Sawyer.”)  Immediately after I heard “Sawyer” in my head, I heard a man audibly introducing himself as “Sawyer” to another customer.  This arrested my attention.

The man’s speech pattern suggested that he was intoxicated.  I was convinced that the Lord wanted me to witness to him.  Why else would I have known the stranger’s name before I heard him say it?  Believe me, under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t go near anyone inebriated.  But I knew what the Holy Spirit was prompting me to do.

I approached “Mr. Sawyer” slowly and made some mundane remark about clothes.  Before I knew it, the subject changed to spiritual matters.  He told me that he had gone to a Christian camp as a young man and learned the names of the books of the Bible in order.  Then he asked me a question about King Saul.  When I found the opportunity, I spoke with him briefly about his alcohol problem.  (The smell was overwhelming, which confirmed my suspicion.)  Then I asked him if he had ever accepted Christ as his savior.  He said no and started crying.  I led him in the sinner’s prayer and left.

I planted a seed that day and I pray that others will water it.  Also, I ask that every believer reading this post will pray for Mr. Sawyer’s spiritual growth.

I wish I could say that this sort of thing happens to me often, but it doesn’t.  In fact, I think this was a first.  Witnessing is easy when the Holy Spirit is involved.  I pray that all of us who have accepted Christ as Lord and Savior will have these types of encounters every day.

We are living in the last days.  Time is running out.  The Bible says to make the most of every opportunity.  We must listen to God and follow His leading–not only in church but in the marketplace and everywhere else.  We are ambassadors for Christ.  May His light shine bright in each of us, so that others will be drawn to the light and desire a personal relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through the Messiah.  In Jesus name I pray.

Acts 15: Gentiles and the Law of Moses

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Acts 15 fascinates me.  The Messianic Jews were wondering what to do with the Gentiles that were coming to faith in the Messiah.   Here are some highlights:

Verses 1 and 2 state the problem.  Some men came from Judea to Antioch and started teaching the believers, “You cannot be saved unless you are circumcised as the Law of Moses requires.”  Paul and Barnabas got into a fierce argument with them about this, so it was decided that Paul Barnabas and some of the others in Antioch should go to Jerusalem and see the apostles and elders about this matter (GNT).

If you read all of Acts 15, you will discover that more than one group of Jews thought that circumcising Gentiles was necessary–but not for the same reason.  The first group (verses 1-2) thought it necessary for salvation.  The second group in verse 5 saw it differently. “Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses” (NIV). In other words, they believed that the Gentiles were saved by faith but they should nevertheless be circumcised and follow the law of Moses. This spawned a lively debate.

After hearing Peter, Paul, and the other debaters, James reached this conclusion.  “It is my opinion,” James went on, “that we should not trouble the Gentiles who are turning to God.  Instead, we should write a letter telling them not to eat any food that is ritually unclean because it has been offered to idols; to keep themselves from sexual immorality; and not to eat any animal that has been strangled, or any blood.  For the Law of Moses has been read for a very long time in the synagogues every Sabbath, and his words are preached in every town” (Acts 15: 19-21 GNT).

Notice that “the basics” were a combination of food laws and moral law.  James was confronting the paganism that was rampant in the Roman Empire, which involved drinking blood and having sex with temple prostitutes.  No doubt he was also influenced by verses like the following:  Any Israelite or any alien living among them who eats any blood–I will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from his people.  For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.  Therefore I say to the Israelites, “None of you may eat blood, nor may an alien living among you eat blood” (Leviticus 17: 10-12 NIV).

I find verse 21 in Acts 15 most intriguing:  For the Law of Moses has been read for a very long time in the synagogues every Sabbath, and his words are preached in every town.”  The implication is that Gentiles could go to the synagogue on the Sabbath and hear the Law of Moses read. The New Testament did not as yet exist and neither did the printing press.  Whenever Paul referred to the Scriptures, he was referring to the Old Testament.

He wrote, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the truth, rebuking error, correcting faults, and giving instruction for right living, so that the person who serves God may be fully qualified and equipped to do every kind of good deed” (2 Timothy 3: 16 GNT).

The Throne of Satan (Rev. 2: 12-17)

http://Pergamon Museum Berlin 2007

© Raimond Spekking / , via Wikimedia Commons

“To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: “This is the message from the one who has the sharp two-edged sword.  I know where you live, there where Satan has his throne.  You are true to me, and you did not abandon your faith in me even during the time when Antipas, my faithful witness, was killed there where Satan lives” (Revelation 2: 12, 13 GNT).

The Great Altar of Pergamon (the Throne of Satan in Revelation) was dedicated to Zeus in the ancient Greek city of Pergamum.  The Nazis moved it to Berlin.  It is in Berlin’s Pergamon Museum today.  The altar inspired Albert Speer, Hitler’s architect, to build a podium for Hitler.  From this replica of the Great Altar of Pergamum, Hitler delivered his speeches in Nuremberg.  The podium is featured in the Nazi propaganda film “Triumph of the Will.” To learn more about this infamous altar and its religious/historical significance, see the three-part video presented by CBN.

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