God’s ways and plans are better than ours. Unfortunately, some interpret the Bible as a joy-killer when, in reality, it is a pain-preventer.
Be careful about who gives you advice. For example, if someone advises you to “just follow your heart,” don’t do it. Get as far from that person as possible.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9
Why follow your heart when God will give you wisdom if you ask for it?
In Numbers 22, we read about the interaction between God and a prophet/diviner named Balaam. He has a “heart issue.”
Balaam is a gentile who knows God and hears from Him, but he is not fully committed to the way of God. That’s a dangerous combination.
His character raises the question, why would God use someone of such ill repute? It is possible to do the work of God and not be in a relationship with God. Yet God desires a relationship over works. (See Matthew 7:22-23)
In Numbers 22, the King of Midian approaches Balaam with a lucrative proposal. King Balak will pay Balaam a considerable sum if Balaam will curse Israel.
Knowing God personally, Balaam should have immediately rejected this proposal. But instead, he tells the king and his entourage to stay the night, and he will see what God says. By not being decisive and rejecting the proposal, Balaam gives the devil a foothold.
God replies to Balaam, “You shall not go with them. You shall not curse the people, for they are blessed.” Numbers 22:12
This should be the end of the story, but it isn’t. In verse 19, Balaam meets with a second envoy, and instead of dismissing them, he tells them to stay the night “that I might know what more the LORD will say to me.”
This time God instructs Balaam to go with them but only to “do what He tells him to do.” Why would He permit Balaam to go knowing his heart is corrupt?
God doesn’t give up on us even when we choose to do the wrong thing. This journey will provide God with opportunities to confront Balaam on his poor decisions.
God is graceful and ready to forgive, restore and redeem when we turn to Him.
In verse 22, we learn that “the angel of the LORD took his stand in the way of his adversary.” This is God’s first of four attempts to get the wayward prophet’s attention.
Now, this was not your run of the mill Angel. Whenever you read LORD all upper-case, that is the name, Yahweh. This intervention appearance is by none other than Jesus taking the form of an Angel.
There are moments in life when we begin to drift, and God places obstacles or obstructions in our way to get out attention. This is where we need the gift of discernment. (1 Corinthians 2:14)
“Discernment is not a matter of telling the difference between right and wrong; rather it is telling the difference between right and almost right.” Charles Spurgeon
There are three questions we should ask ourselves when obstacles inhibit our forward motion.
#1 Does the Bible speak to your request, desire, or situation?
God will never approve of something that contradicts the written word. Therefore, search out the Bible before making a decision.
#2 Has God already said no?
When God’s no’s align with His Word, His no is the final word.
#3 Are the obstructions increasing with your persistence?
When obstacles increase in quality, quantity, and intensity, like with Balaam, this may be from God.
As the donkey walks through a narrow pathway to avoid the angel for the second time, she crushes Balaam’s foot against a rock wall. It takes pain for God to get Balaam’s attention.
Of course, not all pain is God trying to get our attention, but when we are running from Him or as a Christian in rebellion, God will use every circumstance to open our eyes to His pursuit of us.
God knows that if Balaam gets what he wants, the pain from that will be worse. Yet, with all these obstructions, he is still blinded to these holy obstacles. So, God opens the mouth of the donkey who begins talking to Balaam.
To reveal Balaam’s irrational nature, he begins arguing with the donkey. When the argument is over, God opens Balaam’s eyes to see the angel of the LORD standing before him.
Ultimately, Balaam didn’t learn his lesson. He does not curse the Israelites but shares with King Balak how to get them to sin against God and have God punish them.
He received the payment for his services, but it was short-lived. In Numbers 31, God punishes the Midians for leading His people astray, and Balaam is also punished and loses his life.
Those obstacles or red flags in your life may be God attempting to get your attention to prevent you from drifting away from His perfect plan.
If you’re finding yourself having to force your way into or through a situation, it might be time to step back, seek the LORD, and use discernment to know if this is His will or not.