Torah: Numbers 22:2–25:9
PROPHETS: Micah 5:7–6:8
APOSTOLIC WRITINGS: Romans 11:25–32
These devotionals are designed to supplement, not replace, your Bible reading.
Torah 1 & 2
Balak’s Whole-Hearted Stand Against Israel
Moab is afraid of Israel because of their military success and growing population.
Balak, Moab’s king, therefore teams up with the Midianites to pursue hiring a seer named Balaam to curse Israel.
When the offer is presented, Balaam seeks God’s direction and is clearly told not to go with these men.
Balaam’s Half-Hearted Stand For God
In obedience to God’s instructions Balaam sends the men away.
King Balak interpreted the response not as rejection but as a negotiating tactic, thus makes a counter-offer for more reward.
Though Balaam appears to refuse the offer (v. 18), his response reveals a double-mindedness, still hoping to benefit from the situation (v. 19).
God allows Balaam to go with the men this time, but He knows deep down that Balaam does not trust Him regarding His previous instructions in verse 12.
In what ways do you struggle with double-mindedness like Balaam—trying to follow God but perhaps being deceived through desire for earthly reward (cf. Matthew 6:19–21 and 1 John 2:15–17)? What earthly comforts do you cherish? What sacrifices may God be calling you to in order to do His will in this world as a set apart Saint?
Torah 3 & 4
Crash Course In Speaking For God
Along the way, the Angel of the LORD appears three times and results in three beatings.
God opens the donkey’s mouth and allows him to dialogue with Balaam.
God then opens Balaam’s eyes and allows him to converse with the Angel of the LORD. What is God teaching Balaam through these two conversations about God’s way versus his own way?
When they finally reach King Balak, their dialogue foreshadows the conflict of interest between the one seeking curses upon Israel and the One who has already blessed them.
First Message: This nation is blessed!
After an overnight respite and journey to the summit (22:39–40), Balaam leads in making offerings and then receives God’s message for the King (23:1–6).
After the message is delivered (vv. 7–10) the dialogue between these two gentiles reflects conflicting desires: cursing Israel and following God (vv. 11–12).
Where do you find it the most difficult to speak up for God and testify that He is real and that Messiah is the only “way” of blessing (cf. John 14:6)? Do you whole-heartedly believe this? How does your life testify to this faith? Look for ways you can be God’s mouthpiece today!
torah 4, 5 & 6
Second Message: Blessed by a Covenant-keeping God!
Determined to curse Israel, King Balak tries again but in a different location. They follow the same routine of sacrificing together, Balaam separating to hear from God, and then returning with God’s word.
After the message is delivered (vv. 18–24) the two men continue their dialogue with escalating tensions (vv. 25–26). What does Balaam’s message teach about God’s covenant faithfulness?
Third Message: Ma Tovu—lovely because God is dwelling in their midst!
King Balak tries a third time to see Israel cursed.
This time, Balaam yields to God’s Spirit (vv. 1–2) and delivers a powerful message (vv. 3–9).
Verse 5 is the opening line of the traditional morning liturgy Mah Tovu (“How Lovely”), that continues with adaptations from four verses from the Psalms (5:7[8 Heb]; 26:8; 95:6 and 69:13[14 Heb]). Balak is not impressed.
What is God trying to teach Balak (cf. Numbers 22:6b and 24:9b) that He has already taught Abraham (Genesis 12:3a) and Jacob (Genesis 27:29b)? How does the principle of echoing blessings in the wake of God’s blessing apply to you individually as a real way to receive blessing? How does it apply to the Body of believers corporately (cf. Romans 11:12–15)?
torah 7 &
Final Messages and Moab’s Curse
Balaam continues speaking for God and foretells both Messiah’s coming and the eventual destruction of all nations who stand against God’s blessed nation.
We don't know exactly what King Balak does when he departs (24:25) but the following narrative is telling. Balak may have pursued his agenda of cursing Israel by instructing his people, the Moabites, to entice the Israelites to come and worship their God, Baal (25:1–3).
When Israel succumbs to this temptation, instructions are given to carry out God’s judgment upon the ringleaders and thus preserve the nation.
During a time of national repentance, a fellow Israelite has the audacity to flaunt his sin by bringing a Moabite woman back into the community.
Phinehas, a priestly grandson of Aaron and chief of the Levitical guards (cf. Exodus 6:25; Numbers 3:32 and 1 Chronicles 9:20), turns away God’s wrath by a dramatic act of zeal for God’s honor.
Compare what God says about Abraham’s response to His promise in Genesis 15:6 and Phinehas’ actions in response to covenant disobedience in Psalm 106:30–31. Both responses reflect the radical trust that leads to radical living (cf. Romans 4:18–25)! How can you step out in faith and live radically in the time remaining before Shabbat—e.g., behavior at work, seeking reconciliation with a loved one, testifying of God’s grace in your life, standing up to someone who is standing against God, etc.? Don’t forget to testify and share the fruit of what God does with someone else to encourage them in their faith walk!
Alongside Isaiah, Micah preached to the southern kingdom of Judah around the time when Assyria, the regional power, was quickly advancing against the divided nation. Assyria was a superpower that posed external threats against national survival. Unfaithfulness to the covenant, however, is an even bigger threat because it begins in the heart! Faithlessness is a more dangerous threat because it is the very reason that the external threats are threats at all! The nation’s faithlessness is the very reason that God allowed a surrounding nation to be used to chastise, discipline, and purge His people (cf. Isaiah 7:20). Micah pleads with the people to remember King Balak and Balaam (v. 5) in order that they might remember that God is faithful and thus requires faithfulness. True covenant faithfulness is not upheld by merely external observances but by internal realities that lead to loving God and loving people well (cf. Matthew 23:23).
What does your “religious expression” consist of, and how pleasing is it to God? (cf. James 1:26–27). In what ways do you experience your relationship with God as a real inner reality? In what ways is your relationship with God just a nice and comforting concept? Press into Him today!
Balak’s desire is destined to fail because it flies in the face of God’s plan to bless one nation to reach all nations. Paul appeals to Gentiles not to be arrogant. He implores them not to miss God’s covenant love for the nation of Israel as central to His plan to pour out mercy upon all the nations!
How is God calling you to be an instrument of mercy to His covenant people who are not yet found in Messiah? How can we do that as a united community of Jewish and Gentile followers of Yeshua?
Rest. Fellowship. Discussion.