2 Corinthians 5:6-7 ESV So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.
We have talked about all of the blessings of having faith in God which cause us to trust, believe, and be obedient to God’s will. The first two sermons made us feel good, and they should, because we know that if we are obedient to God’s will there are tremendous blessings. We love to talk about the blessings that come with obedience, but we don’t like to talk about the consequences of disobedience. In our sermon today we look at the consequences of disobedience.
To hear the audio click on the YouTube image at the end of the manuscript
This is sermon number 3 in the Way of Faith series. The messages are to demonstrate the truth of Paul’s declaration that “we walk by faith, not by sight.” The messages encourage obedience and faithfulness to God’s revealed will even when we cannot see what the end result is going to be.
We have talked about all of the blessings of having faith in God which cause us to trust, believe, and be obedient to God’s will.
We learned that:
1.God is the source of faith.
2. The secret of faith is to fear not.
3. Faith is activated when God’s people follow His plan.
4. Faith’s success is found in going forward when the Lord says move and going in confidence because the Lord’s fighting for you
5. When you act in faith you do God’s will without question.
6. Praise is the result.
7. When we act in faith God will get the glory.
Those two sermons make us feel good, and they should because we know that if we are obedient to God’s will there are tremendous blessings. God told the Israelites how much they would be blessed if they obeyed when they went into Canaan.
Deuteronomy 28:1-14 NLT “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully keep all his commands that I am giving you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the world. You will experience all these blessings if you obey the Lord your God: Your towns and your fields will be blessed. Your children and your crops will be blessed. The offspring of your herds and flocks will be blessed. Your fruit baskets and breadboards will be blessed. Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be blessed. “The Lord will conquer your enemies when they attack you. They will attack you from one direction, but they will scatter from you in seven! “The Lord will guarantee a blessing on everything you do and will fill your storehouses with grain. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you. “If you obey the commands of the Lord your God and walk in his ways, the Lord will establish you as his holy people as he swore he would do. Then all the nations of the world will see that you are a people claimed by the Lord , and they will stand in awe of you. “The Lord will give you prosperity in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you, blessing you with many children, numerous livestock, and abundant crops. The Lord will send rain at the proper time from his rich treasury in the heavens and will bless all the work you do. You will lend to many nations, but you will never need to borrow from them. If you listen to these commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today, and if you carefully obey them, the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you will always be on top and never at the bottom. You must not turn away from any of the commands I am giving you today, nor follow after other gods and worship them.
We love to talk about the blessings that come with obedience, but we don’t like to talk about the consequences of not disobedience.
When we look at all the blessing of obedience in the first 14 verses of Deuteronomy chapter 28, then we look at the consequences of disobedience. The consequences go from verse 15 to verse 68. Here are some excerpts from those verses
“But if you refuse to listen to the Lord your God and do not obey all the commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come and overwhelm you: Your towns and your fields will be cursed. Your fruit baskets and breadboards will be cursed. Your children and your crops will be cursed. The offspring of your herds and flocks will be cursed. Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be cursed. A foreign nation you have never heard about will eat the crops you worked so hard to grow. You will suffer under constant oppression and harsh treatment. Swarms of insects will destroy your trees and crops. “The foreigners living among you will become stronger and stronger, while you become weaker and weaker. They will lend money to you, but you will not lend to them. They will be the head, and you will be the tail! “
That points out something that I heard Charles Stanley say.
"Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay."
So today in our way of faith series we are going to talk about what happens when we don’t exercise our faith through trust and belief.
We are going to look at the miracle of Balaam and his talking donkey.
The account of the miracle of Balaam's talking donkey is in
Numbers 22:22-35 NLT But God was angry that Balaam was going, so he sent the angel of the Lord to stand in the road to block his way. As Balaam and two servants were riding along, Balaam’s donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand. The donkey bolted off the road into a field, but Balaam beat it and turned it back onto the road. Then the angel of the Lord stood at a place where the road narrowed between two vineyard walls. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord , it tried to squeeze by and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall. So Balaam beat the donkey again. Then the angel of the Lord moved farther down the road and stood in a place too narrow for the donkey to get by at all. This time when the donkey saw the angel, it lay down under Balaam. In a fit of rage Balaam beat the animal again with his staff. Then the Lord gave the donkey the ability to speak. “What have I done to you that deserves your beating me three times?” it asked Balaam. “You have made me look like a fool!” Balaam shouted. “If I had a sword with me, I would kill you!” “But I am the same donkey you have ridden all your life,” the donkey answered. “Have I ever done anything like this before?” “No,” Balaam admitted. Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the roadway with a drawn sword in his hand. Balaam bowed his head and fell face down on the ground before him. “Why did you beat your donkey those three times?” the angel of the Lord demanded. “Look, I have come to block your way because you are stubbornly resisting me. Three times the donkey saw me and shied away; otherwise, I would certainly have killed you by now and spared the donkey.” Then Balaam confessed to the angel of the Lord , “I have sinned. I didn’t realize you were standing in the road to block my way. I will return home if you are against my going.” But the angel of the Lord told Balaam, “Go with these men, but say only what I tell you to say.” So Balaam went on with Balak’s officials.
We aren’t going to read it all here today but our text is a portion of it
Numbers 22:28, 30 NLT Then the Lord gave the donkey the ability to speak. “What have I done to you that deserves your beating me three times?” it asked Balaam. “But I am the same donkey you have ridden all your life,” the donkey answered. “Have I ever done anything like this before?” “No,” Balaam admitted.
A little background. The name Balaam means “devouring” or “devourer.” Balaam was from a city in Mesopotamia called Pethor. He was a fortune teller who had the gift of prophecy.
Joshua 13:22 NLT The Israelites had also killed Balaam son of Beor, who used magic to tell the future.
Balak, a king of Moab in Moses’ day, hired Balaam to pronounce a curse on the Israelites.
Judges 11:25 NLT Are you any better than Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he try to make a case against Israel for disputed land? Did he go to war against them?
Micah 6:5 NLT Don’t you remember, my people, how King Balak of Moab tried to have you cursed and how Balaam son of Beor blessed you instead? And remember your journey from Acacia Grove to Gilgal, when I, the Lord , did everything I could to teach you about my faithfulness.”
The entire account is in Numbers 22-24. It’s very interesting and I encourage you to read the whole story.
Now Balak was terrified by Israel’s victory over two Amorite kings Sihon and Og. The account of those victories is in Numbers 21-21-35.
All of this is happening at the end of Israel’s 40 years of wandering in the wilderness.
Numbers 21:21-35 NLT The Israelites sent ambassadors to King Sihon of the Amorites with this message: “Let us travel through your land. We will be careful not to go through your fields and vineyards. We won’t even drink water from your wells. We will stay on the king’s road until we have passed through your territory.” But King Sihon refused to let them cross his territory. Instead, he mobilized his entire army and attacked Israel in the wilderness, engaging them in battle at Jahaz. But the Israelites slaughtered them with their swords and occupied their land from the Arnon River to the Jabbok River. They went only as far as the Ammonite border because the boundary of the Ammonites was fortified. So Israel captured all the towns of the Amorites and settled in them, including the city of Heshbon and its surrounding villages. Heshbon had been the capital of King Sihon of the Amorites. He had defeated a former Moabite king and seized all his land as far as the Arnon River. Therefore, the ancient poets wrote this about him: “Come to Heshbon and let it be rebuilt! Let the city of Sihon be restored. A fire flamed forth from Heshbon, a blaze from the city of Sihon. It burned the city of Ar in Moab; it destroyed the rulers of the Arnon heights. What sorrow awaits you, O people of Moab! You are finished, O worshipers of Chemosh! Chemosh has left his sons as refugees, his daughters as captives of Sihon, the Amorite king. We have utterly destroyed them, from Heshbon to Dibon. We have completely wiped them out as far away as Nophah and Medeba. ” So the people of Israel occupied the territory of the Amorites. After Moses sent men to explore the Jazer area, they captured all the towns in the region and drove out the Amorites who lived there. Then they turned and marched up the road to Bashan, but King Og of Bashan and all his people attacked them at Edrei. The Lord said to Moses, “Do not be afraid of him, for I have handed him over to you, along with all his people and his land. Do the same to him as you did to King Sihon of the Amorites, who ruled in Heshbon.” And Israel killed King Og, his sons, and all his subjects; not a single survivor remained. Then Israel occupied their land.
They are very near Canaan and Balak is another Amorite king.
So Balak wants to hire Balaam because he thought Balaam could turn God’s favor from Israel to his own nation. Initially Balaam refused Balak’s offer but he accepted the third offer Balak made, but instead of curses on Israel, Balaam pronounced blessings. He blessed them because God ordered him to. Which is proof that God can use anybody even an enemy to bless His children. We know that it was not Balaam’s intention to bless the Israelites because we are told later that because of advice he gave their enemies the Israelites sinned.
Numbers 31:16 NLT “These are the very ones who followed Balaam’s advice and caused the people of Israel to rebel against the Lord at Mount Peor. They are the ones who caused the plague to strike the Lord’s people.
In Revelation 2 John gives us this interesting word about Balaam:
Revelation 2:14-15 NLT “But I have a few complaints against you. You tolerate some among you whose teaching is like that of Balaam, who showed Balak how to trip up the people of Israel. He taught them to sin by eating food offered to idols and by committing sexual sin. In a similar way, you have some Nicolaitans among you who follow the same teaching.
Simon Peter said
2 Peter 2:16 NLT But Balaam was stopped from his mad course when his donkey rebuked him with a human voice.
Now let’s examine this miracle and see what God has in it for us.
I. God speaks to people (Num. 22:28–39)
God continually speaks to humanity, and he speaks in various ways. In the instance we are talking about today He used a donkey. Aside from the serpent in the garden of Eden, this is the only instance in the Bible where an animal speaks. In our Bible Study group we have been talking about the ways that God speaks to people. He speaks through.
- Audible Voice
- Dreams and Visions
- Nature or the creation itself
- Holy Spirit speaking to your spirit
- The Bible
- Other people
The point is that God does speak.
He speaks to sinful people, as he did to Balaam, and others who were not believers as He spoke to Cyrus about ending the Babylonian exile.
Ezra 1:1-4 NLT In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, the Lord fulfilled the prophecy he had given through Jeremiah. He stirred the heart of Cyrus to put this proclamation in writing and to send it throughout his kingdom: “This is what King Cyrus of Persia says: “The Lord , the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has appointed me to build him a Temple at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Any of you who are his people may go to Jerusalem in Judah to rebuild this Temple of the Lord , the God of Israel, who lives in Jerusalem. And may your God be with you! Wherever this Jewish remnant is found, let their neighbors contribute toward their expenses by giving them silver and gold, supplies for the journey, and livestock, as well as a voluntary offering for the Temple of God in Jerusalem.”
When He speaks to non-believers it’s either to convict them so that they surrender their lives to Jesus or to cause them bless His children.
Although God speaks in different ways,
Jesus Christ is the highest revelation of God we have.
Hebrews 1:1-3 NLT Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.
II. God often speaks to people about their disobedience and and sinful ways
What kind of man was Balaam? He was a fortune teller who loved money. He was into superstition, covetousness, and wickedness. He was a person who gave evil advice and led people away from the Lord.
Numbers 31:16 NLT “These are the very ones who followed Balaam’s advice and caused the people of Israel to rebel against the Lord at Mount Peor. They are the ones who caused the plague to strike the Lord's people.
2 Peter 2:15-16 NLT have wandered off the right road and followed the footsteps of Balaam son of Beor, who loved to earn money by doing wrong. But Balaam was stopped from his mad course when his donkey rebuked him with a human voice.
He could have been a prophet of the Lord. He was capable of the highest service in the kingdom of God had he surrendered himself to the Holy Spirit. God even used him to bless His people three different times. Read it in Numbers 23 and 24. Every time Balak asked him to curse he obeyed God and blessed them.
But Balaam wanted to do the wrong thing. Balaam’s lifestyle was perverse. He followed a course of life that could lead only to destruction. So God spoke to him about his disobedience.
When Balak's representatives first asked Balaam to come curse the Israelites God told him not to go.
Numbers 22:7-8, 12 NLT Balak’s messengers, who were elders of Moab and Midian, set out with money to pay Balaam to place a curse upon Israel. They went to Balaam and delivered Balak’s message to him. “Stay here overnight,” Balaam said. “In the morning I will tell you whatever the Lord directs me to say.” So the officials from Moab stayed there with Balaam. But God told Balaam, “Do not go with them. You are not to curse these people, for they have been blessed!”
But he went anyway and now God is talking to him about his disobedience
Numbers 22:32 NLT “Why did you beat your donkey those three times?” the angel of the Lord demanded. “Look, I have come to block your way because you are stubbornly resisting me.
It's the same way with us today. When we disobey God speaks to us through the Holy Spirit through our conscious. Thank God for Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit because when God does speak to us about our disobedience we can confess, ask forgiveness and receive it.
1 John 1:8-9 NLT If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
Which brings me to my third point.
III. God speaks to people, and failure to heed his Word results in tragedy.
Because of Balaam’s advice, the Israelites were seduced into idolatry and all the vile abominations connected with it. In the judgment that followed, no fewer than twenty-four thousand Israelites perished, until it was evident that the nation abhorred idolatry and considered it a great crime against God. You will find that in Numbers chapter 3 which starts with this verse;
Numbers 25:1-3 NLT While the Israelites were camped at Acacia Grove, some of the men defiled themselves by having sexual relations with local Moabite women. These women invited them to attend sacrifices to their gods, so the Israelites feasted with them and worshiped the gods of Moab. In this way, Israel joined in the worship of Baal of Peor, causing the Lord's anger to blaze against his people.
Numbers 25:7-9 NLT When Phinehas son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron the priest saw this, he jumped up and left the assembly. He took a spear and rushed after the man into his tent. Phinehas thrust the spear all the way through the man’s body and into the woman’s stomach. So the plague against the Israelites was stopped, but not before 24,000 people had died.
By God’s command, Israel meted out vengeance on the Midianites
Numbers 31:8 NLT All five of the Midianite kings—Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba—died in the battle. They also killed Balaam son of Beor with the sword.
Romans 6:23 NLT For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Galatians 6:7-8 NLT Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.
Balaam’s life ended in tragedy. He tried to make the best of both worlds but couldn’t do it. People can serve the Lord, or not. Ironically Balaam said
Numbers 23:10 NLT Who can count Jacob’s descendants, as numerous as dust? Who can count even a fourth of Israel’s people? Let me die like the righteous; let my life end like theirs.”
He didn’t get his wish.
Numbers 31:8 NLT All five of the Midianite kings—Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba—died in the battle. They also killed Balaam son of Beor with the sword.
Balaam’s epitaph could read: “Balaam, son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness, got them, and perished!”
Numbers 22:28a NLT Then the Lord gave the donkey the ability to speak.
God still speaks. Are you listening? Will you heed his words, or will you serve Satan and perish?
The choice is yours.