Numbers 23 (CEV)
Balaam’s First Message
1Balaam said to Balak, ” Build seven altars here, then bring seven bulls and seven rams.”
2After Balak had done this, they sacrificed a bull and a ram on each altar. 3Then Balaam said, ” Wait here beside your offerings, and I’ll go somewhere to be alone. Maybe the LORD will appear to me. If he does, I will tell you everything he says.” And he left.
4When God appeared to him, Balaam said, ” I have built seven altars and have sacrificed a bull and a ram on each one.”
5The LORD gave Balaam a message, then sent him back to tell Balak. 6When Balaam returned, he found Balak and his officials standing beside the offerings.
When Balaam returned, Balak and all the princes of Moab were ready. They were ready to learn what their money had bought them from Balaam!
” King Balak of Moab brought me
from the hills of Syria
to curse Israel
and announce its doom.
8But I can’t go against God!
He did not curse
or condemn Israel.
9” From the mountain peaks,
I look down and see Israel,
the obedient people of God.
10They are living alone in peace.
And though they are many,
they don’t bother
the other nations.
” I hope to obey God
for as long as I live
and to die in such peace.”
11Balak said, ” What are you doing? I asked you to come and place a curse on my enemies. But you have blessed them instead!”
The king of Moab was understandably disturbed. He had paid good money for a particular outcome, and the opposite had happened!
12Balaam answered, ” I can say only what the LORD tells me.”
Balaam’s Second Message
13Balak said to Balaam, ” Let’s go somewhere else. Maybe if you see a smaller part of the Israelites, you will be able to curse them for me.” 14So he took Balaam to a field on top of Mount Pisgah where lookouts were stationed. Then he built seven altars there and sacrificed a bull and a ram on each one. 15” Wait here beside your offerings,” Balaam said. ” The LORD will appear to me over there.”
16The LORD appeared to Balaam and gave him another message, then he told him to go and tell Balak. 17Balaam went back and saw him and his officials standing beside the offerings.
Balak asked, ” What did the LORD say?”
” Pay close attention
to my words–
19God is no mere human!
He doesn’t tell lies
or change his mind.
God always keeps his promises.
HERE is “Forever God Is Faithful” by Chris Tomlin.
20” My command from God
was to bless these people,
and there’s nothing I can do
to change what he has done.
21Israel’s king is the LORD God.
He lives there with them
and intends them no harm.
22With the strength of a wild ox,
God led Israel out of Egypt.
23No magic charms can work
just look what God has done
for his people.
24They are like angry lions
ready to attack;
and they won’t rest
until their victim
is gobbled down.”
25Balak shouted, ” If you’re not going to curse Israel, then at least don’t bless them.”
Do you hear the king’s frustration?
26” I’ve already told you,” Balaam answered. ” I will say only what the LORD tells me.”
Do you hear Balaam’s whininess?
Balaam’s Third Message
27Balak said to Balaam, ” Come on, let’s try another place. Maybe God will let you curse Israel from there.” 28So he took Balaam to Mount Peor overlooking the desert north of the Dead Sea.
29Balaam said, ” Build seven altars here, then bring me seven bulls and seven rams.”
30After Balak had done what Balaam asked, he sacrificed a bull and a ram on each altar.
Perhaps they are thinking, “third time’s a charm”?