Could the WIND blow a little more??! My stars....I think I saw my friend from Canada blow by last night!!!
Chapter 21 Nothing like making a deal with the Lord. "If you do this, then we'll do that!" We always seem to want to bargain with Him don't we?! We have a holy war going on here. Hey God....we will destroy their cities if you will deliver them to us! And so it was....a successful holy war with divine deliverance! They named the place "Hormah" which in Hebrew means destruction!
Here we go again....murmuring and complaining. The Israelites are complaining about not having food and water. Wait a minute! They were just given water from a rock. And they've got quail coming out of their nostrils.....what's not to love?! But here they are....murmuring against God and Moses again. Its just a bunch of whining and ranting I'd say. They have neither bread nor water, yet they don't like the food in their possession! HUMPH! :) Moses prays a rather unusual prayer about being rescued from poisonous snakes. And God responds rather unusually too....He sends a bronze snake to gaze upon as a reminder of the punishment God decrees and of the remedy He provides. The bronze snake eventually becomes an idol for worship and is sinful adoration! How often do we do that...worship God's gifts above God Himself? Hum.......
The Journey to Moab.....here is a biblical times itinerary of their march! This is their "triptix" from their travel guide in verses 10-21. Verses 23-32 are a narration of of the war itself. The Israelites take possession of the towns and villages of the Amorites and in verses 31-32 we have a successful conquest! The poem in the middle of the chapter is a song that is almost a "taunt" against the Amorites. Perhaps the poem addresses Israel's relationship with the Moabites since the defeat of them is central to the poem. The main message of the "Ballad of Heshbon" is that the Moabites have NO CLAIM on the Israelites property. The Israelites have traveled from the wilderness to the land of the Transjordan.
Chapter 22 Here we move into a third section of the Book of Numbers. The first section (chapter 1-10) was about holiness to God. Then chapter 10-21 were about the wilderness journey of the first Israelite generation. Now, in this third and final section (chapter 22-36) the writers are exploring the life of faith as a journey with God through the threatening wilderness. lack of faith expressed in the form of murmuring led to led, while faithfulness required that Israel followed God regardless of the threat. We've moved from the wilderness to the plains of Moab. The setting looks ahead to Jericho across the Jordan River and away from the desert that lies behind.
Balak summons Balaam. Balak is the king and believes that his military might cannot save his kingdom from the Israelites onslaught. He turns instead to witchcraft and summons Balaam.....a "magician" and soothsayer with a widespread reputation. Though Balaam (Bay-lem) claims loyalty to the Lord, he is more likely to worship numerous pagan gods and conveniently includes the one true God among them. Balaam obeys when God tells him not to go with the kings emissaries (v. 13). However, when they return a 2nd time with a the SAME REQUEST....God gives him permission to go. But God was still angry. Can't win for loosing! :) Then enters the donkey. THE TALKING DONKEY!!!!!! I LOVE IT! Its a cartoon in the Bible! Who knew?! :) Mr. Ed has nothing on this donkey!!! Such irony here too! God could have gotten Balaam's attention in any number of ways. But who doesn't love it this way? As a highly sought after fortune teller, Balaam is considered great in the eyes of men. He is a seer who claims special communication. The message to Balaam is made quite clear....from, through and by the donkey talking to him!!! God got his attention by the donkey!!! Essentially, the donkey saves Balaam's life but the diviner is blind to his own rescue and responds each time with anger against his own donkey!!! Then...the donkey even interprets the message for Balaam. But the message comes from the lowliest of beasts....a beast of burden....wise and might things do not come from donkeys. And its interesting to note that Balaam is not surprised that the donkey is talking! He just responds to him in a conversation as if it were normal to talk to his donkey!! Balaam is even questioned as to why he beat the donkey. Had the animal acted in response to Balaam's sinister assumption, the diviner Balaam would be dead. But eventually, his eyes are opened, he confesses his sin and gets repeated instructions from the angel of the Lord (v. 35). Balaam continues his journey but is to speak only what God instructs him to say!