September 14, 2015: Daily Bible Reading with Commentary for Numbers 21-24
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Context: Today’s reading begins with an Israelite victory of their enemies! It is not long, however, until the Israelites begin to complain again. The Lord has provided for all their needs while on their wilderness march, including food which provided for all dietary needs, yet the Israelites continued to find things about which to complain. The Lord judged them for their complaints. When the Israelites admitted they had sinned, the Lord provided a way for them to be healed. Looking at the brass serpent was a measure of faith, which is what healed the people. Later, when the people began to see the brass serpent as an idol instead of a reminder of faith and what the Lord did for His people, He ordered the brass serpent to be destroyed. We see a shift in the actions of the people. They begin to sing songs of praise instead of complaining. The story of Balaam is an interesting and confusing story. Balaam starts out appearing to be genuine prophet, however it is revealed with the second visit, that Balaam is covetous and enjoys having wealth. Balaam already had an answer form the Lord as to what his actions were to be, yet he asked again. Why? Because he wanted to go and was hoping the Lord would change His mind. Careful study shows that God allowed Balaam to go, not because the Lord changed His mind, but because Balaam had already made up his mind to go. Because Balaam was focused on himself and not the Lord, he could not see the angel of the Lord. In the remaining part of today’s reading, Balaam gives four blessings over Israel. The Lord will not allow him to curse Israel. Included in the fourth prophecy, is the mention of the star that the wise men, who came from the land of Balaam, will follow to find the baby Messiah.