"For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." ~ Deuteronomy14:2

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Raising the Standard: Decisiveness - Refusing to Reconsider a Decision Which I Know Is Right

A soothsayer was asked to curse the children of Israel, but God intervened and forbade him from making such a curse. Greed caused him to maneuver around God's command and the ultimate results were the destruction and moral decay of God's chosen people.
How Does Scripture Illustrate Decisiveness In Refusing To Reconsider A Decision? The official delegation approached the house of the soothsayer. With urgency they reported a serious request from their king. "A great and powerful nation has come into our country. They will overrun the land unless we conquer them and drive them away I will give you a great reward if you come and curse them."
He replied, "Stay here tonight, and I will give you my answer in the morning." That night God spoke to him and instructed him not to go with the men because the people whom the king wanted to destroy were blessed by God. The next morning he said to his visitors, "Go back to your country, for the Lord refuses to let me go with you." His answer was final. The elders left. But later another delegation returned to his home. This one was larger and made up of the important princes of the kingdom. They offered him a greater reward for cursing the nation of Israel. At that moment he was at the crossroads of his life. Had he learned the quality of decisiveness, he would have escaped the destruction and infamy that is recorded of him in Scripture. But greed replied, "If your king should give me a house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the Word of the Lord, my God, to do more or less." That was decisive, but then he added a fatal sentence, "Stay here tonight and I will see if the Lord will tell me more." That night God spoke to him. "If the men come to call you, get up and go with them. But only speak the words which I give you to speak." He didn't realize that the Lord was testing him. The next morning he gave the good news that he could go with them. On the way, a series of strange events began to happen. His faithful donkey ran off the road. He beat the donkey. Then it crushed his foot against a wall. Once again it was beaten. Later, after a third beating, God opened the mouth of the donkey. It asked, "Why have you beaten me these three times?" "Because you mocked me, " the soothsayer shouted. "If I had a sword I would kill you." Then God opened his eyes and he saw an angel with drawn sword standing in front of him. The same fury he felt toward the disobedient donkey was God's response toward him for disobeying His clear directive. God was displeased that he had asked Him a second time for permission to do what was clearly forbidden. God was angry with him for going with the princes since he knew this was contrary to His original directions. His indecisiveness which was prompted by greed ultimately brought about the moral decay of the nation of Israel. A few years later, he was killed by the very nation that the king had asked him to curse. (From Numbers 22)
Was Balaam A True Prophet Of God?
Even Though Balaam was used by God to speak His words (Numbers 23:5; 24:2) and claimed to worship the Lord God of Israel (Numbers 22:18), he was not a true prophet. When King Balak sent to Mesopotamia for Balaam, he sent for a soothsayer, not a prophet. He did not want to know the future. He wanted to influence it. The fact that Balaam worshipped the God of Israel does not mean that he did not worship false gods as well. He seemed very comfortable around the altars of Baal in Moab. As a soothsayer, Balaam set fees for his services (Numbers 22:7) and used enchantments, both of which were contrary to the Mosiac Law (Numbers 24:1; cf. Deuteronomy 18:10). It is strange that the Lord would speak through a man like Balaam just as it is strange that the Lord spoke to King Saul through the woman medium at Endor (1 Semuel 28:7).
What Should Balaam Have Told Balak?
Balak was more interested in protecting his own nation than in conquering Israel. If Balaam had been a prophet of God he could have told Balak that it was not God's intention for the country of Moab to be conquered by Israel. If Balaam had grasped the meaning of the words the Lord put into his mouth he could have helped Balak. Referring to Israel the Lord had said, "Blessed is he who blesseth you, and cursed is he who curesth you." (Numbers 24:9) If he had advised Balak to show comon hospitality to the young nation of Israel on their journey to Canaan, the Lord would have blessed them. But to advise Balak to corrupt the nation invited God's judgment (cf. Deuteronomy 23:3, 4).
How Was Balaam Swayed In His Decisiveness?
Balaam was told by God not to curse the children of Israel, so he refused Balak's request. A second time the king's messengers sought him, and again he answered no. But this time his reply was not as decisive. He encouraged them to stay overnight while he inquired of the Lord. Granted reluctant permission to go, Balaam journeyed to the city. Once again God forbade him to curse the Israelites as Balak requested. He must have realized how desperate the king was. Balaam could have had anything he wanted had he been disobedient. Sent away with no payment, he may have mulled over in his mind the possibilities he had missed. The question must have arisen whether or not it was really necessary for him to miss this opportunity. Was there still a possibility for gian? His greed resulted in a diabolical plan which he somehow justified in his own mind. He saw how he could get the reward without directly cursing the people. He contacted Balak and gave him his plan --- corrupt the people from within and God will ahve to punish them Himself. Balaam is mentioned three times in the New Testament (2 Peter 2:15; Jude 11; Revelation 2:14). His indecision and trechery have made his life a negative example to future generations. The short-tailed shrew is one of two hundred and sixty-five species found throughout the world, thirty of which inhabit North America. This animal lives in forests, marshes and open fields which provide thick, damp ground cover. Unsociable by nature, the shrew is active both night and day.
How Does the Shrew Illustrate Decisiveness in Refusing to Reconsider a Decision? In an effort to secure a study specimen of the shrew, a naturalist learned how voracious this little animal's appetite really is.
One evening before retiring, he set a trap where a short-tailed shrew had been seen earlier that day. Peanut butter, a food which is highly appetizing to this insectivore, was placed on the trap as bait. The next morning the area was inspected and he discovered that the trap was successfully sprung. Elation faded to dismay when closer observation revealed the half-eaten carcass of a shrew. Determined to obtain a whole specimen, the naturalist reset the trap only to achieve the same result for two consecutive nights. Each time the trap was set in the evening and then inspected the following day. In each instance the unlucky victim had been almost completely devoured. Only its head remained intact. On the third evening the naturalist set the trap earlier and checked it before retiring. As the observer drew near, a shrew raced from the sprung trap but not before it had ravaged another specimen. Each night the bloodthirsty raider had come and ravenously devoured a hapless member of its own species which had been caught. Indiscriminate in its eating habits, the shrew was not above the practice of cannibalism. Not until the fourth morning was the naturalist's mission successful. At last, all that remained was the bait and the marauder became the final victim of the trap. The hyperactive nature of this mammal requires excessive energy for living which is derived from eating huge quantities of food. It is not at all particular about what it eats. The only criterion in its food selection is whether or not it is able to subdue its prey. Living on a diet of meat and nuts, the shrew will attack anything smaller than a weasel. Mice which are two to three times larger than itself are unhesitatingly attacked and eaten. Because its food requirements are enormous the short-tailed shrew eats whatever is available. When it finds a piece of carrion, no matter how rank, it considers it a delicacy and ravenously devours it. From the day it is born the shrew engages decisively in a race to maintain life. The behavior of the short-tailed shrew has been compared to the ferocity of a lion. Ounce for ounce it is considered one of the most vicious animals in the world. Bent on fulfilling its massive food requirements, the short-tailed shrew decisively refuses to be swayed from its task.

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