Numbers 24:2-7, 15-17a, December 13, 2021

Reading

When Balaam raised his eyes and saw Israel encamped, tribe by tribe,
the spirit of God came upon him,
and he gave voice to his oracle:

The utterance of Balaam, son of Beor,
the utterance of a man whose eye is true,
The utterance of one who hears what God says,
and knows what the Most High knows,
Of one who sees what the Almighty sees,
enraptured, and with eyes unveiled:
How goodly are your tents, O Jacob;
your encampments, O Israel!
They are like gardens beside a stream,
like the cedars planted by the LORD.
His wells shall yield free-flowing waters,
he shall have the sea within reach;
His king shall rise higher,
and his royalty shall be exalted.

Then Balaam gave voice to his oracle:

The utterance of Balaam, son of Beor,
the utterance of the man whose eye is true,
The utterance of one who hears what God says,
and knows what the Most High knows,
Of one who sees what the Almighty sees,
enraptured, and with eyes unveiled.
I see him, though not now;
I behold him, though not near:
A star shall advance from Jacob,
and a staff shall rise from Israel.

Reflection:  

 As background for this reading the Israelites were on their way to Egypt when they had to pass through Moab.  The Moabite king, Balak, commissioned a pagan soothsayer, to curse the Israelites and to cause them to be helpless; however God would not allow Balaam to voice the words of the curse.  This incident in Moab illustrates God’s providential protection of his people.  Without God, the people of Israel would have been dead a long time ago.  The Israelites should have never survived because they were surrounded by dominant and aggressive neighbors and for the most part their land was barren.   No one would have ever thought the Messiah, Jesus Christ, would come from these people.    It has been said that “God’s ways are not our ways.”  It feels like sometimes we do not understand God.  Think about how Christianity started with a small group of rag-tag individuals and has now grown to billions following Jesus.  Our call is to recognize the goodness of God in our lives, to recognize God is at work in our world and along with the church seek to bring the glory of God to others.