8 “Spend the night here,” Balaam said to them, “and I will report back to you with the answer the Lord gives me.” So the Moabite officials stayed with him.
9 God came to Balaam and asked, “Who are these men with you?”
10 Balaam said to God, “Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, sent me this message: 11 ‘A people that has come out of Egypt covers the face of the land. Now come and put a curse on them for me. Perhaps then I will be able to fight them and drive them away.’”
12 But God said to Balaam, “Do not go with them. You must not put a curse on those people, because they are blessed.” (Numbers 22:8-12 NIV)
God talks to Balaam — as he did to Moses? Balaam has some special gift or access to the Lord that others lack.
It is interesting that God asks who is with Balaam. Wouldn’t God know who they were and why they were present?
Contrasted here are cursing and blessing – one precludes the other. The Israelites cannot be cursed because God has already blessed them.
Vs. 10 may harken back to God’s promise to Abram – the people of Israel as a mighty nation that covers the face of the land.
I am so certain of how God works – God does this and not that, God is in these things and not those. We tend to be sure we know how and where God works. Almost to the point that God is a domesticated divinity – a God who does what we want in the ways we want. So much of what passes for faith , even in me, is along these lines.
Yet here is a prophet, a man, who is not an Israelite and yet to him God speaks. God came to him and not the other way around. God initiates this conversation. Not a sign or a dream but speaks (it seems) as we speak to one another.
This story suggests a humility to me, to us. God may act as he chooses, God may use whom he will. We cannot put God into the narrow channels of our imagination. God is, alone, free to choose and act. We constrain and limit him by being sure of what God wants to use to speak and act. Perhaps we do well to be more open and more humble in our evaluation!
O God, as you came to Balaam and spoke, so would you speak to us. May we not limit you in ways that cause us to miss your voice. May we not assume that we know what we, in truth, do not. You are the judge, not we. You alone are sovereign. May I have eyes that can see and ears that can hear, especially when you work outside my presuppositions and prejudices. In the name of Jesus, who overturned many’s assumptions and judgments. Amen.