1623.) Numbers 28

July 22, 2015

Numbers 28   (CEV)

Regular Daily Sacrifices

1The LORD told Moses 2to say to the people of Israel:

Offer sacrifices to me at the appointed times of worship, so that I will smell the smoke and be pleased.

3Each day offer two rams a year old as sacrifices to please me.  The animals must have nothing wrong with them; 4one will be sacrificed in the morning, and the other in the evening. 5Along with each of them, two pounds of your finest flour mixed with a quart of olive oil must be offered as a grain sacrifice. 6This sacrifice to please me was first offered on Mount Sinai. 7Finally, along with each of these two sacrifices, a quart of wine must be poured on the altar as a drink offering. 8The second ram will be sacrificed that evening, along with the other offerings, just like the one sacrificed that morning. The smell of the smoke from these sacrifices will please me.

We should be like the Psalmist and seek the Lord in the morning: My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up. (Psalm 5:3) But to You I have cried out, O Lord, and in the morning my prayer comes before You. (Psalm 88:13)

We should be like the Psalmist and seek the Lord in the evening: When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches. (Psalm 63:6) Let my prayer be set before You as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. (Psalm 141:2)

We should be like the Psalmist and seek the Lord all the time: Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice. (Psalm 55:17)

–David Guzik


Every day the Israelites offered to the Lord 2 rams, 4 pounds of flour, 2 quarts of olive oil and 2 quarts of wine.  Day after day after day.

What of material value do you offer the Lord every day?  Would it change your spiritual life if daily you were to give such a generous material expression?

The Sacrifice on the Sabbath

28. sabbath_candles

“Sabbath Candles” by Canadian painter Fiona Collins

The LORD said:

9-10On the Sabbath, in addition to the regular daily sacrifices,  you must sacrifice two rams a year old to please me.  These rams must have nothing wrong with them, and they will be sacrificed with a drink offering and four pounds of your finest flour mixed with olive oil.

The Sacrifices on the First Day of the Month

The LORD said:

11On the first day of each month, bring to the altar two bulls, one full-grown ram, and seven rams a year old that have nothing wrong with them. Then offer these as sacrifices to please me.  12Six pounds of your finest flour mixed with olive oil must be offered with each bull as a grain sacrifice. Four pounds of flour mixed with oil must be offered with the ram, 13and two pounds of flour mixed with oil must be offered with each of the young rams. The smell of the smoke from these sacrifices will please me. 14-15Offer two quarts of wine as a drink offering with each bull, one and a half quarts with the ram, and one quart with each of the young rams.

Finally, you must offer a goat  as a sacrifice for sin. These sacrifices are to be offered on the first day of each month, in addition to the regular daily sacrifices.

The LORD said:

The Sacrifices during Passover and the Festival of Thin Bread

28. passover_3d_star_of_david

16Celebrate Passover in honor of me on the fourteenth day of the first month  of each year. 17The following day will begin the Festival of Thin Bread, which will last for a week. During this time you must honor me by eating bread made without yeast. 18On the first day of this festival, you must rest from your work and come together for worship. 19Bring to the altar two bulls, one full-grown ram, and seven rams a year old that have nothing wrong with them. And then offer these as sacrifices to please me.  20Six pounds of your finest flour mixed with olive oil must be offered with each bull as a grain sacrifice. Four pounds of flour mixed with oil must be offered with the ram, 21and two pounds of flour mixed with oil must be offered with each of the young rams. 22Also offer a goat  as a sacrifice for the sins of the people. 23-24All of these are to be offered in addition to the regular daily sacrifices,  and the smoke from them will please me. 25Then on the last day of the festival, you must once again rest from work and come together for worship.

The LORD said:

The Sacrifices during the Harvest Festival

28.  wheat weeks

The Feast of Weeks celebrates harvest.  The book of Ruth is often read in synagogues during this festival, since it describes the wheat harvest season.

26On the first day of the Harvest Festival, you must rest from your work, come together for worship, and bring a sacrifice of new grain. 27Offer two young bulls, one full-grown ram, and seven rams a year old as sacrifices to please me.  28Six pounds of your finest flour mixed with olive oil must be offered with each bull as a grain sacrifice. Four pounds of flour mixed with oil must be offered with the ram, 29and two pounds of flour mixed with oil must be offered with each of the young rams. 30Also offer a goat  as a sacrifice for sin. 31The animals must have nothing wrong with them and are to be sacrificed along with the regular daily sacrifices.



HERE the song “The Heart of Worship” gets to the point — Jesus.


Contemporary English Version (CEV) Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

Images courtesy of:
worship.    http://www.cliparthut.com/clip-arts/220/church-worship-clip-art-220121.jpg
Collins.  http://www.fionacollins.com/files/sabbath_candles.jpg
Passover.  http://www.holidays.zingerbugimages.com/Passover/passover_3d_star_of_david.gif
wheat.  http://www.ynetnews.com/PicServer2/20122005/791816/YE0232356_wa.jpg

1622.) Numbers 27

July 21, 2015
27. Botkin Daughters of Zelophehad

“The Daughters of Zelophehad” by Daniel Bodkin

Numbers 27   (CEV)

The Daughters of Zelophehad Are Given Land

1Zelophehad  was from the Manasseh tribe, and he had five daughters, whose names were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.

27. Five Sisters art

“Five Sisters” by Paula DiLeo

2One day his daughters went to the sacred tent, where they met with Moses, Eleazar, and some other leaders of Israel, as well as a large crowd of Israelites. The young women said:

3You know that our father died in the desert. But it was for something he did wrong, not for joining with Korah in rebelling against the LORD.

Our father left no sons 4to carry on his family name. But why should his name die out for that reason? Give us some land like the rest of his relatives in our clan, so our father’s name can live on.

5Moses asked the LORD what should be done, 6and the LORD answered:

7Zelophehad’s daughters are right. They should each be given part of the land their father would have received.

This stamp commemorates American women who carried on in the footsteps of Zelophehad’s daughters.

8Tell the Israelites that when a man dies without a son, his daughter will inherit his land. 9If he has no daughter, his brothers will inherit the land. 10But if he has no brothers, his father’s brothers will inherit the land. 11And if his father has no brothers, the land must be given to his nearest relative in the clan. This is my law, and the Israelites must obey it.

27. Five Sisters mts

The “Five Sisters of Kintail” in Scotland in the summer . . .

The remarkable thing about these laws is that they were all made in anticipation — in faith — of coming into the inheritance of land in the Canaan. This was a real issue, at this time, for the daughters of Zelophehad show they were real women of faith, concerned about dividing up what they did not yet have in their hands, but knew they would possess by faith.

–David Guzik

The daughters of Tzelafchad were righteous women. They did not marry until they were forty years old. They waited for suitors worthy of them.

–from the Talmud

Joshua Is Appointed Israel’s Leader

12The LORD said to Moses, ” One day you will go up into the Abarim Mountains, and from there you will see the land I am giving the Israelites. 13After you have seen it, you will die,  just like your brother Aaron, 14because both of you disobeyed me at Meribah near the town of Kadesh in the Zin Desert. When the Israelites insulted me there, you didn’t believe in my holy power.”  15Moses replied, 16” You are the LORD God, and you know what is in everyone’s heart. So I ask you to appoint a leader for Israel. 17Your people need someone to lead them into battle, or else they will be like sheep wandering around without a shepherd.”

27. lamb

Matthew 9:36 (New International Version)

When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

John 10:11 (New International Version)

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

John 1:29 (New International Version)

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”



HERE  is a look forward to the coming of our Lord Jesus.  “Mary, Did You Know . . . that your baby boy is Heaven’s perfect lamb?”  Sung by Donny Osmond.


18The LORD answered, ” Joshua son of Nun can do the job. Place your hands on him to show that he is the one to take your place. 19Then go with him and have him stand in front of Eleazar the priest and the Israelites. Appoint Joshua as their new leader 20and tell them they must now obey him, just as they obey you. 21But Joshua must depend on Eleazar to find out from me  what I want him to do as he leads Israel into battle.” 22Moses followed the LORD’s instructions and took Joshua to Eleazar and the people, 23then he placed his hands on Joshua and appointed him Israel’s leader.

This public presentation and laying of hands on Joshua was important. It let the whole nation know that Joshua was now the leader and the nation should expect to follow him.


Contemporary English Version (CEV) Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

Images courtesy of:
Botkin.    http://www.danielbotkin.com/pics/Gallery%208%20Miscellaneous%20Works/The%20Daughters%20of%20Zelophehad%20t.jpg
DiLeo.  http://www.pauladileo.com/images/faces_large/01.gif
postage stamp.  http://www.nps.gov/wori/historyculture/images/Postage_Stamp.jpg
Five Sisters, Scotland.  http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3158/2500221026_034c339004.jpg
lamb.   http://internetfoodassociation.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/derwent_lamb_470x354.jpg

1621.) Numbers 26

July 20, 2015

Num26 census
Numbers 26   (CEV)

The Israelites Are Counted a Second Time

1After the LORD had stopped the deadly disease from killing the Israelites, he said to Moses and Eleazar son of Aaron, 2” I want you to find out how many Israelites are in each family. And list every man twenty years and older who is able to serve in Israel’s army.”

Some 38 years earlier, at the beginning of the Book of Numbers, while Israel still camped at Mount Sinai, God commanded them to take a census. The first census was primarily for military organization. If they were to enter into and take possession of the Promised Land, they had to know how many troops they had, and how they should best be organized. This accounting, 38 years later, was again for military purposes.

–David Guzik (and all following comments in green)

3Israel was now camped in the hills of Moab across the Jordan River from the town of Jericho. Moses and Eleazar told them 4what the LORD had said about counting the men twenty years and older, just as Moses and their ancestors had done when they left Egypt.

5-7There were 43,730 men from the tribe of Reuben, the oldest son of Jacob.  These men were from the clans of Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi. 8Pallu was the father of Eliab 9and the grandfather of Nemuel, Dathan, and Abiram. These are the same Dathan and Abiram who had been chosen by the people, but who followed Korah and rebelled against Moses, Aaron, and the LORD. 10That’s when the LORD made the earth open up and swallow Dathan, Abiram, and Korah. At the same time, fire destroyed two hundred fifty men as a warning to the other Israelites.  11But the Korahite clan wasn’t destroyed.

12-14There were 22,200 men from the tribe of Simeon; they were from the clans of Nemuel, Jamin, Jachin, Zerah, and Shaul.

15-18There were 40,500 men from the tribe of Gad; they were from the clans of Zephon, Haggi, Shuni, Ozni, Eri, Arod, and Areli.

19-22There were 76,500 men from the tribe of Judah; they were from the clans of Shelah, Perez, Zerah, Hezron, and Hamul. Judah’s sons Er and Onan had died in Canaan.

Num26 line

(Click on the picture to see it larger.)

Matthew 1:1-6 (NIV)

A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham:
Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,
Perez the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,

Ram the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse,
and Jesse the father of King David.



HERE  is “Once in Royal David’s City”  sung by the King’s College Choir of Cambridge. Christmas in July!

Once in royal David’s city
Stood a lowly cattle shed,
Where a mother laid her baby
In a manger for His bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ her little child.
He came down to earth from heaven,
Who is God and Lord of all,
And His shelter was a stable,
And His cradle was a stall;
With the poor, and mean, and lowly,
Lived on earth our Savior Holy.
And through all His wondrous childhood
He would honor and obey,
Love and watch the lowly Maiden,
In whose gentle arms He lay:
Christian children all must be
Mild, obedient, good as He.
For He is our childhood’s pattern; 
Day by day, like us He grew;
He was little, weak and helpless,
Tears and smiles like us He knew;
And He feeleth for our sadness,
And He shareth in our gladness.
And our eyes at last shall see Him,
Through His own redeeming love;
For that Child so dear and gentle
Is our Lord in heaven above,
And He leads His children on
To the place where He is gone.
Not in that poor lowly stable,
With the oxen standing by,
We shall see Him; but in heaven,
Set at God’s right hand on high;
Where like stars His children crowned 
All in white shall wait around.


23-25There were 64,300 men from the tribe of Issachar; they were from the clans of Tola, Puvah, Jashub, and Shimron.

26-27There were 60,500 men from the tribe of Zebulun; they were from the clans of Sered, Elon, and Jahleel.

28-34There were 52,700 men from the tribe of Manasseh son of Joseph; they were from the clan of Machir, the clan of Gilead his son, and the clans of his six grandsons: Iezer, Helek, Asriel, Shechem, Shemida, and Hepher. Zelophehad son of Hepher had no sons, but he had five daughters: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.

35-37There were 32,500 men from the tribe of Ephraim son of Joseph; they were from the clans of Shuthelah, Becher, Tahan, and Eran the son of Shuthelah.

38-41There were 45,600 men from the tribe of Benjamin; they were from the clans of Bela, Ashbel, Ahiram, Shephupham, Hupham, as well as from Ard and Naaman, the two sons of Bela.

42-43There were 64,400 men from the tribe of Dan; they were all from the clan of Shuham.

44-47There were 53,400 men from the tribe of Asher; they were from the clans of Imnah, Ishvi, and Beriah, and from the two clans of Heber and Malchiel, the sons of Beriah. Asher’s daughter was Serah.

48-50There were 45,400 men from the tribe of Naphtali; they were from the clans of Jahzeel, Guni, Jezer, and Shillem.

51The total number of Israelite men listed was 601,730.

In the first census, Israel counted 603,550 men ready for war; 38 years later, they count 601,730 men – a loss of 1,820 men (.3%). So, the total number of men ready for war during the wilderness stayed virtually the same over the 38 year period, when the generation of unbelief died in the wilderness.

The stagnation of population is reflective of Israel’s spiritual state during these 38 years; we should have expected them to grow, as is normal in the course of generations. Instead, they simply stayed where they were. The 38 years in the wilderness were years of no growth, no advance — just going in circles until the generation of unbelief had died and a generation of faith had arisen, a generation bold enough to take the Promised Land.

52The LORD said to Moses, 53” Divide the land of Canaan among these tribes, according to the number of people in each one, 54so the larger tribes have more land than the smaller ones. 55-56I will show you  what land to give each tribe, and they will receive as much land as they need, according to the number of people in it.”

26. tribe map

“So Joshua took the entire land, just as the Lord had directed Moses, and he gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal divisions.” –Joshua 11:23

57The tribe of Levi included the clans of the Gershonites, Kohathites, Merarites, 58as well as the clans of Libni, Hebron, Mahli, Mushi, and Korah. Kohath the Levite was the father of Amram, 59the husband of Levi’s daughter Jochebed, who was born in Egypt. Amram and Jochebed’s three children were Aaron, Moses, and Miriam. 60Aaron was the father of Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. 61But Nadab and Abihu had died when they offered fire that was unacceptable to the LORD.  62In the tribe of Levi there were 23,000 men and boys at least a month old. They were not listed with the other tribes, because they would not receive any land in Canaan.

The Levites were not numbered in either the first or second census, because the men of their tribe were not to go to war. As well, they were to receive no inheritance of land as the other tribes; their inheritance was greater than property — the Lord Himself (Numbers 18:20).

63Moses and Eleazar counted the Israelites while they were camped in the hills of Moab across the Jordan River from Jericho. 64None of the people that Moses and Aaron had counted in the Sinai Desert were still alive, 65except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. The LORD had said that everyone else would die there in the desert.

1 Corinthians 10:1-6 (NIV)

For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert.

Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.


Contemporary English Version (CEV) Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

Images courtesy of:
census seal.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2015/07/c78d3-6a00d83420747353ef01a511c3312b970c-pi.jpg
Timeline.   http://hopehelphealing.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Matthew.1a-TL-2100BC-1000BCGenealogyAbrahamToDavid.jpg
tribe map.  http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/im

1620.) Numbers 25

July 17, 2015
Stele depicting Baal (The Louvre)

Stele depicting Baal, found in the ruins at Ras Shamra, northern Syria (The Louvre)

Numbers 25   (CEV)

The Israelites Worship Baal

1While the Israelites were camped at Acacia, some of the men had sex with Moabite women. 2These women then invited the men to ceremonies where sacrifices were offered to their gods. The men ate the meat from the sacrifices and worshiped the Moabite gods.

25. -thumbs-down

Thanks for nothing, Balaam!

Of all things, it turns out that this double sin of idolatry and sexual immorality was Balaam’s idea!   Somehow or another, he had to earn that money!

Revelation 2:14 (NIV)

You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality.

2 Peter 2:15 (NIV)

They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness.

Balaam, through his wicked counsel to Balak, got what he wanted — but he also ended up dead among the enemies of God (Numbers 31:7-8). He enjoyed his money for only a short time.

3The LORD was angry with Israel because they had worshiped the god Baal Peor. 4So he said to Moses, ” Take the Israelite leaders who are responsible for this and have them killed in front of my sacred tent where everyone can see. Maybe then I will stop being angry with the Israelites.”

5Moses told Israel’s officials,  ” Each of you must put to death any of your men who worshiped Baal.”

6Later, Moses and the people were at the sacred tent, crying, when one of the Israelite men brought a Midianite  woman to meet his family. 7Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron  the priest, saw the couple and left the crowd. He found a spear 8and followed the man into his tent, where he ran the spear through the man and into the woman’s stomach.

Phinehas was one among those in Israel who would not accept this blatant rebellion against God.

25. impalement

“Impalement by Phinehas” woodcut by Johann Christoph Weigel 1695 (Pitts Theology Library, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta)

Leviticus 20:10 (ESV)

If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

When temptation comes alluring
Make me patient and enduring.

The LORD immediately stopped punishing Israel with a deadly disease, 9but twenty-four thousand Israelites had already died.

10The LORD said to Moses, 11” In my anger, I would have wiped out the Israelites if Phinehas had not been faithful to me. 12-13But instead of punishing them, I forgave them. So because of the loyalty that Phinehas showed, I solemnly promise that he and his descendants will always be my priests.”

Psalm 106:28-31 (NIV)

They yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor
and ate sacrifices offered to lifeless gods;

they provoked the LORD to anger by their wicked deeds,
and a plague broke out among them.

But Phinehas stood up and intervened,
and the plague was checked.

This was credited to him as righteousness
for endless generations to come.

14The Israelite man that was killed was Zimri son of Salu, who was one of the leaders of the Simeon tribe. 15And the Midianite woman killed with him was Cozbi, the daughter of a Midianite clan leader named Zur.

16The LORD told Moses, 17-18” The Midianites are now enemies of Israel, so attack and defeat them! They tricked the people of Israel into worshiping their god at Peor, and they are responsible for the death of Cozbi, the daughter of one of their own leaders.”

Now there is zero tolerance for the Midianites.



These last few chapters have been clear pictures of temptations which overcame the hearts of people who thought they were too smart, or entitled, or free . . .  Where, Lord, am I justifying my sin?  What in my heart needs to be acknowledged, repented of, confessed, and forgiven?  I want to be righteous in your sight, God, thanks to the sacrifice Christ made for me on the cross.  HERE  is Sojourn and “Approach, my soul, the mercy seat.”


Contemporary English Version (CEV) Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

Images courtesy of:
Baal.    http://www.louvre.fr/sites/default/files/imagecache/940×768/medias/medias_images/images/louvre-stele-quotbaal-foudrequot_0.jpg
thumbs down.   http://www.clipartbest.com/cliparts/biy/LXr/biyLXr4iL.jpeg
Weigel.  http://www.pitts.emory.edu/woodcuts/1695Bibl/00005934.jpg

1619.) Numbers 24

July 16, 2015
24.  Balaam looking down

Balaam looking down over the “goodly tents” of the Israelite camp.

Numbers 24   (CEV)

1Balaam was sure that the LORD would tell him to bless Israel again. So he did not use any magic to find out what the LORD wanted him to do, as he had the first two times. Instead, he looked out toward the desert 2and saw the tribes of Israel camped below. Just then, God’s Spirit took control of him, 3and Balaam said:

” I am the son of Beor,

and my words are true,  so listen to my message!

4It comes from the LORD,

the God All-Powerful.

I bowed down to him

and saw a vision of Israel.

5 People of Israel,

your camp is lovely.

Ma Tovu is a Jewish prayer —

which begins with the verse above, Numbers 24:5 — “How goodly are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel!”  This prayer is often recited by worshipers, reverently, joyfully, as they enter the synagogue. You can listen to it  HERE.

6It’s like a grove of palm trees

Num24 palm

or a garden beside a river.

You are like tall aloe trees

that the LORD has planted,

or like cedars

growing near water.

7You and your descendants

will prosper

like an orchard

beside a stream.

Your king will rule with power

and be a greater king

than Agag the Amalekite.

8With the strength of a wild ox,

God led you out of Egypt.


You will defeat your enemies,

shooting them with arrows  and crushing their bones.

9Like a lion you lie down,

resting after an attack.

Who would dare disturb you?

” Anyone who blesses you

will be blessed;

anyone who curses you

will be cursed.”

24.  Abraham

Jews would hear in Balaam’s words echoes of God’s promise to Abraham:

Genesis 12:3 (NIV)

“I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”

10When Balak heard this, he was so furious that he pounded his fist against his hand and said, ” I called you here to place a curse on my enemies, and you’ve blessed them three times. 11Leave now and go home! I told you I would pay you well, but since the LORD didn’t let you do what I asked, you won’t be paid.”

Each of the first three prophecies, it has gotten worse for Balak. In the first one, Balaam fails to curse Israel; in the second, he blesses Israel, and in the third, he curses Balak! How much worse can it get for the king of Moab?

12Balaam answered, ” I told your messengers 13that even if you offered me a palace full of silver or gold, I would still obey the LORD. And I explained that I would say only what he told me. 14So I’m going back home, but I’m leaving you with a warning about what the Israelites will someday do to your nation.”

Balaam’s Fourth Message

15Balaam said:

” I am the son of Beor,

and my words are true,

so listen to my message!

16My knowledge comes

from God Most High,

the LORD All-Powerful.

I bowed down to him

and saw a vision of Israel.

17 What I saw in my vision

hasn’t happened yet.

But someday, a king of Israel

will appear like a star.

24. WiseMenStillSeekHim

Matthew 2:1-2 (NKJV)

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem,  saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”



HERE  David Nevue plays his arrangement of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” I love listening to Advent and Christmas carols out of season!


He will wipe out you Moabites

and destroy  those tribes who live in the desert.

18Israel will conquer Edom

and capture the land

of that enemy nation.

19The king of Israel will rule

and destroy the survivors

of every town there.

2 Samuel 8:13-14 (NIV)

And David became famous after he returned from striking down eighteen thousand Edomites  in the Valley of Salt.

He put garrisons throughout Edom, and all the Edomites became subject to David. The LORD gave David victory wherever he went.

20And I saw this vision

about the Amalekites:

Their nation is now great,

but it will someday

disappear forever.

21 And this is what I saw

about the Kenites:

They think they’re safe,

living among the rocks,

22but they will be wiped out

when Assyria conquers them.

23 No one can survive

if God plans destruction.

24Ships will come from Cyprus,

bringing people

who will invade

the lands of Assyria and Eber.

But finally, Cyprus itself

will be ruined.”

25After Balaam finished, he started home, and Balak also left.


Contemporary English Version (CEV) Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

Images courtesy of:
Balaam looking over the Israelite camp.   http://www.chabad.org/media/images/109650.jpg
palms.    http://d3thflcq1yqzn0.cloudfront.net/012103190_prevstill.jpeg
“The Pillar of Cloud.” digital art by Ted Larson.   http://www.digitalartbytedlarson.com/img/exodus-cd-cover-600-x-600.jpg
Abraham.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/11-abraham-starsjpg.jpg
Wise Men.   http://s230.photobucket.com/user/sweetmummyof3/media/Wisemenstillseek.jpg.html

1618.) Numbers 23

July 15, 2015
23. Delphi

Another king, another prophecy, another blessing?  Croesus of Lydia, 590 BC, went to the oracle at Delphi (ruins above) to ask if he should make war on the Persians.  The answer came that if he did, he would destroy a mighty empire.  Croesus heard it as a blessing, but he was wrong — he was defeated; the empire he destroyed was his own.

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!

7Balaam said:

23. Balaam blesses Israel

” 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

23.  B & B fire

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?”

18Balaam answered:

” 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

against them–

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”?


Images courtesy of:
ancient Delphi, Greece.   http://static.panoramio.com/photos/original/1013035.jpg
Balaam blesses Israel.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/23-balaam-blesses-israel.jpg?w=450
Balaam and Balak.    http://www.biblevisuals.org/images/look_inside_bvi/visualized_bible/OT/OT14_illustrations/OT14_P11_illustrations.jpg

1617.) Numbers 22

July 14, 2015
22. Rembrandt

“The Ass of Balaam Talking before the Angel” by Rembrandt, 1626 (Musee Cognacq-Jay, Paris, France)

Numbers 22   (CEV)

1Israel moved from there to the hills of Moab, where they camped across the Jordan River from the town of Jericho.

King Balak of Moab Hires Balaam To Curse Israel

2-3When King Balak  of Moab and his people heard how many Israelites there were and what they had done to the Amorites, he and the Moabites were terrified and panicked. 4They said to the Midianite leaders, ” That bunch of Israelites will wipe out everything in sight, like a bull eating grass in a field.” So King Balak 5sent a message to Balaam son of Beor who lived among his relatives in the town of Pethor near the Euphrates River. It said:

I need your help. A huge group of people has come here from Egypt and settled near my territory. 6They are too powerful for us to defeat, so would you come and place a curse on them? Maybe then we can run them off. I know that anyone you bless will be successful, but anyone you curse will fail.

Balak wanted Balaam to curse Israel, to cripple them spiritually so they could be defeated in battle. Balak seemed to know the strength of Israel was spiritually rooted, and they had to cut off from their source of power if they were to be conquered. It seems Balaam was known as a mighty man in spiritual things. As far as Balak was concerned, when Balaam cursed or blessed a man or a people, it came to pass.

–David Guzik

7The leaders of Moab and Midian left and took along money to pay Balaam for his work. When they got to his house, they gave him Balak’s message.

8” Spend the night here,” Balaam replied, ” and tomorrow I will tell you the LORD’s answer.” So the officials stayed at his house.

Here we see the heart of Balaam revealed. Though he was obviously a man with significant spiritual gifts, he was not a man with a genuine heart after God. He was “seeking God’s will” regarding cursing the nation of Israel — something that was plainly not His will.

9During the night, God asked Balaam, ” Who are these people at your house?”

10” They are messengers from King Balak of Moab,” Balaam answered. ” He sent them 11to ask me to go to Moab and place a curse on the people who have come there from Egypt. They have settled everywhere around him, and he wants to run them off.”

12But God replied, ” Don’t go with Balak’s messengers. I have blessed those people who have come from Egypt, so don’t curse them.”

13The next morning, Balaam said to Balak’s officials, ” Go on back home. The LORD says I cannot go with you.”

It was as if Balaam is saying, “God doesn’t want me to do this . . . but I can be persuaded.”

14The officials left and told Balak that Balaam refused to come.

15Then Balak sent a larger group of officials, who were even more important than the first ones. 16They went to Balaam and told him that Balak had said, ” Balaam, if you come to Moab, 17I’ll pay you very well and do whatever you ask. Just come and place a curse on these people.”

Balaam refused to decisively put away a temptation the first time it came. Now the temptation came back to him stronger than it was before.

18Balaam answered, “Even if Balak offered me a palace full of silver or gold, I wouldn’t do anything to disobey the LORD my God. 19You are welcome to spend the night here, just as the others did. I will find out if the LORD has something else to say about this.”

20That night, God said, ” Balaam, I’ll let you go to Moab with Balak’s messengers, but do only what I say.”

We can say that God did not change His will. He had clearly declared His will, and Balaam had decisively rejected it. Now God prepared Balaam up for judgment, to both test and reveal the wickedness of Balaam’s heart.

21So Balaam got up the next morning and saddled his donkey, then left with the Moabite officials.

Balaam and His Donkey Meet an Angel

22. Balaam

22Balaam was riding his donkey to Moab, and two of his servants were with him. But God was angry that Balaam had gone, so one of the LORD’s angels stood in the road to stop him. 23When Balaam’s donkey saw the angel standing there with a sword, it walked off the road and into an open field. Balaam had to beat the donkey to get it back on the road.

The donkey was more spiritually perceptive than the prophet! The donkey had no spiritual gifts, but at least acknowledged his Creator. The prophet had wonderful spiritual gifts, but also a disobedient heart and walk.

24Then the angel stood between two vineyards, in a narrow path with a stone wall on each side. 25When the donkey saw the angel, it walked so close to one of the walls that Balaam’s foot scraped against the wall. Balaam beat the donkey again.

26The angel moved once more and stood in a spot so narrow that there was no room for the donkey to go around. 27So it just lay down. Balaam lost his temper, then picked up a stick and smacked the donkey.

22. Balaams donkey cartoon


James 1:19 (NIV)

Take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

28When that happened, the LORD told the donkey to speak, and it asked Balaam, ” What have I done to you that made you beat me three times?”

29” You made me look stupid!” Balaam answered. ” If I had a sword, I’d kill you here and now!”

30” But you’re my owner,” replied the donkey, ” and you’ve ridden me many times. Have I ever done anything like this before?”

” No,” Balaam admitted.

Balaam admitted that the donkey got the best of him in this conversation!

31Just then, the LORD let Balaam see the angel standing in the road, holding a sword, and Balaam bowed down.

from Peculiar Treasures: A Biblical Who’s Who,
by Frederick Buechner


The legend of Solomon’s ring, the adventures of Dr. Doolittle, the attempt to decipher the dots and dashes of dolphins and to teach chimpanzees to type out their thoughts on computers all reflect man’s ancient dream of being able to talk with the animals.  As fascinating as a message from outer space would be a message from the inner space of a great blue heron or a common house cat sunning herself on the kitchen linoleum.  Their mute gaze suggest a vision of reality beyond our imagining.  What do they see in their ignorance that we in our wisdom are mostly blind to?

In the Book of Numbers, Balaam’s ass sees an angel of the Lord barring the way with a drawn sword in his hand and thereupon lies down in the middle of the road with Balaam still on his back.  When Balaam clobbers him over the head with a stick, the ass speaks out reproachfully in fluent Hebrew, and then Balaam sees the angel too.

This is perhaps a clue to the mystery.  Whereas men as a rule see only what they expect to see and little more, the animals, innocent of expectation, see what is there.  The next time the old mare looks up from her browsing and lets fly with an exultant whinny at the empty horizon, we might do well to consider at least the possibility that the horizon may not be quite as empty as we think.

32The angel said, ” You had no right to treat your donkey like that! I was the one who blocked your way, because I don’t think you should go to Moab.  33If your donkey had not seen me and stopped those three times, I would have killed you and let the donkey live.” 34Balaam replied, ” I was wrong. I didn’t know you were trying to stop me. If you don’t think I should go, I’ll return home right now.”

35” It’s all right for you to go,” the LORD’s angel answered. ” But you must say only what I tell you.” So Balaam went on with Balak’s officials.



HERE is a fun piece — Don Francisco sings a song about Balaam and his donkey, as an accompaniment to a Sunday School play!


King Balak Meets Balaam

36When Balak heard that Balaam was coming, he went to meet him at the town of Ir, which is on the northern border of Moab. 37Balak asked, ” Why didn’t you come when I invited you the first time? Did you think I wasn’t going to pay you?”

38” I’m here now,” Balaam answered. ” But I will say only what God tells me to say.”

39They left and went to the town of Kiriath-Huzoth, 40where Balak sacrificed cattle and sheep and gave some of the meat to Balaam and the officials who were with him.

41The next morning, Balak took Balaam to the town of Bamoth-Baal. From there, Balaam could see some of the Israelites.


Contemporary English Version (CEV) Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

Images courtesy of:
Rembrandt.  http://www.abcgallery.com/R/rembrandt/rembrandt95.html
Balaam’s donkey sees the angel.   http://www.biblebios.com/balaam/balaam.jpg
cartoon.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/22-balaams-donkey-cartoon.jpg?w=450


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