February 28 | Daily Devotions

February 28 | Daily Devotions

Lectio Continua:   a complete reading of the passage    

Lectio Semi-continua:   a shorter reading of the passage

Lectio Divina

Because of her stubborn ways, Israel will wander in the wilderness for 40 years. Perhaps to show that this generation of God worshippers has not changed, the writer records yet another incident of grumbling followed by God’s judgment (Num. 21:4-9). But God does not abandon them and they enjoy His blessing and protection. Enemies are defeated along the way and renewal provided in the desert. There is victory, celebration, and singing (Num. 21:17-18).

Having seen God’s blessing on the nation of worshippers, the Canaanite king Balaak fears for his own kingdom.  He knows better than to take up arms, so instead he hires a famous religious man from the East to curse the people. God speaks to Balaam, whose name means “lord” or “devourer, “ and tells him not to go work for the conniving king, but Balaam finds the payment too tempting to resist. When the man persists, God gives him permission to go, but He does so with considerable frustration, much like a parent saying to a child, “Ok, it’s your life.” Once on site, Balaam cannot find it within himself to curse the people of God. Again and again, to the king’s chagrin, Balaam blesses them instead! Such pronouncements made by famous seers were believed to have divine efficacy or power. Therefore, Balaam’s words, broadcast before the king’s court and to the nation at large, demoralize the Canaanites. It’s difficult to muster an army for what appears to be a losing cause.

There is profound encouragement in today’s reading for God-worshippers of every generation. The key verse of the passage is found in Numbers 23: “How can I curse those whom God has not cursed?”(v. 8). One is immediately reminded of Romans 8:31: “If God is for us, who can be against us?”God is determined to bless His people, and no amount of conniving by evil men gets in His way (Psalm 2). Even powerful adversaries who conspire against us are no match for God’s resolve!  So do not fear gossip, or threats, or the machinations of evil men. Trust ever to God’s promise to cause all things to work together for your good (Rom. 8:28). He can use even the sinful  plans of another to bless you as He did with Balaak and the Israelites. That’s how amazing God is!

Lectio Divina  is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the Senior Pastor of  Calvary Church  in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of  A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.