Second in a series of three studies on Numbers 23:8-10
“For from the top of the rocks I see him,
“And from the hills I behold him;
“There! A people dwelling alone,
“Not reckoning itself among the nations” (Numbers 23:9).
The prophet Balaam looks out from the top of the mountain and sees the orderly camp of the Israelites below. “Him” in this verse refers to the Israelite camp. Balaam looks out, realizing he cannot pronounce a curse on these people, no matter how much he wants to, because God will not allow it.
The nation he sees below him is composed of people who are different—distinctive in every way from the other nations: different in their religion, sacred rites, diet, dress, and everyday ways. They are alone, dignified, and on a higher level than the other nations. They are close to God and are a people set apart for His service.
Such a perception surely rings through to the people of God today—He designed that Christians would be consecrated and different from others in the world: that distinctiveness is what makes us special to God and appealing to those in the world who seek a higher, more spiritual, way of life. We, too, are set apart for service in His spiritual kingdom.
Thought for the Week.10-23-16. Listening to God
First in a series of three studies on Numbers 23:8-10
“How shall I curse whom God has not cursed?
“And how shall I denounce whom the Lord has not denounced?” (Numbers 23:8).
Balaam has just received an impossible request from Balak, king of the Moabites, who asks him to curse the Israelites. God has already instructed Balaam that he is to have nothing to do with Balak, but Balaam doesn’t follow God’s instruction—he associates with him anyway.
If Balaam had not disobeyed God, he wouldn’t have found himself in this situation where a wicked king is telling him to go against God. Here he gives the impossibility of fulfilling the request: he cannot pronounce a curse on people God has not cursed, no matter how much he wants to.
The prophet had to learn the hard way that a person cannot defy God and get away with it. Our world today is filled with people who are trying the same thing Balaam did: they know what God’s word says, but they have such a desire to please themselves that they do what feels good to them.
When these people learn the consequence of their decisions, it will be too late: they will have sealed their eternal destiny by going against God.
Third in a series of studies in Ephesians 4
“Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).
Paul reaches his main point in this verse by laying out the real challenge he has in mind for the Ephesian brethren: they are to live in unity and in peace.
By beginning with the word “endeavoring,” he emphasizes they do not have a choice in this matter nor can they be casual or careless in carrying out the instruction: “endeavoring” means to give diligence to.
“Unity” means they are to stand as one, and “Spirit” refers to the teachings the Spirit has given. To them, it was direct from inspired teachers. For us, however, the teaching is found in the Word that was inspired by the Spirit.
“Bond” is something that holds things together, and “peace” indicates a spirit of tranquility and freedom from inward or outward disturbance.
To keep the “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” we must stand together in our adherence to the doctrines the Spirit has made available to us, not injecting our own opinions nor our creative ideas about what God would like. Otherwise, there can be no peace.
Second in a series of studies in Ephesians 4
“With all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).
Having instructed the Ephesians to walk worthy of the calling of Christ, Paul here provides instruction about how they can accomplish this goal: by being lowly, gentle, and longsuffering as well as bearing with one another in love.
Lowliness inherently implies humility while gentleness describes one who is not easily provoked and one who doesn’t go around provoking other people. If a person is longsuffering, he is patient in bearing injuries from others and doesn’t seek revenge.
Bearing with one another in love doesn’t mean we tolerate sin, but it does mean we bear hurts out of a principle of love.
Paul teaches that without these attributes, we have no basis for unity. These attributes rather envelope each other—each overlaps with the other, forming a basis for unity and peace. Without them, pride and passion take over; and we can have no unity.
First in a series of studies in Ephesians 4
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to have a walk worthy of the calling with which you were called” (Ephesians 4:1).
As Paul does in many of his epistles, he has laid the solid foundation of being sound in the doctrine of Christ in the first part of this epistle. Now, in chapter 4, he moves into some practical aspects of living the Christian life every day, just as God expects of His followers.
Paul calls himself a prisoner of the Lord because he is in prison as a result of His faithfulness to God, and he begs his readers to listen carefully to this teaching. He tells them to live in such a way as to have at least a degree of worthiness. The Ephesians have been called by the gospel, and they are working together in the work of the gospel—that is the “calling” he is talking about.
The apostle doesn’t say just to “walk” but he says to walk in a way that shows the seriousness of the Cause we have espoused and the value we place upon the opportunity for redemption that has been presented to us.