What does it say?

The saga of Balak hiring Balaam to curse Israel continues (Num 23-24). Not only does God forbid Balaam to curse the Hebrews, what comes out of Balaam’s mouth amounts to the spiritual highlight of Numbers as God speaks through him some powerful predictions about the future of Israel. Balaam speaks seven oracles (prophecies). The first three reconfirm the covenant made with Abraham and describe its fulfillment thus far in history. The final four look into the Messianic future of Israel and the nation’s impact on the entire world.

Right after the tremendous blessings pronounced by Balaam, Israel responds with one of its greatest acts of disobedience. Contrary to God’s instructions, Israelites begin to mix and mate with the Moabites and Midianites (Num 25). These relationships result in seducing many Israelites into idolatry. Consequently, 24,000 die in a plague God sends in judgment.

What does it mean?

God’s covenant with Abraham is unconditional despite Israel’s many failures. Abraham was blessed to be a blessing. The fortunes of Israel rise and fall according to their faithfulness to be a blessing to the families of the earth. After the confirmation of the Abrahamic covenant, Israel is seduced to sin by the surrounding tribes rather than being a blessing to them by being faithful representatives of the one true God.

The issue of not marrying into the surrounding tribes is not racial or ethnic, but spiritual. Foreigners were always welcome to be absorbed into the family of God’s people. The danger was for God’s people to become assimilated into the paganism that surround them. We struggle with this issue still. We are also blessed to be a blessing. Our job is to be ambassadors of the Good News of Jesus Christ to those who do not know him, not to allow ourselves to be spiritually corrupted by those outside of God’s promises. We learn here the incredible power of romantic and sexual relationships that are at cross-purposes with God’s purposes.

Our relationships are either healthy or toxic. Healthy relationships can exist with non-believers as long as I influence them in a godly manner and am not being seduced by them in the opposite direction.

How will I respond?

Do I have any toxic relationships in my life that are negatively influencing me? How can I establish boundaries in my life to protect me from toxic relationships? If not sure how to do this, I will ask for help from among the healthy relationships I have.