Saturday, October 30, 2010

Treading near the edge of some aspects of Balaam???

The story about the prophet Balaam can be found in Numbers 22 -24. In short, he was a prophet from Mesopotamia and was hired by Balak, the king of Moab to curse the Israelites, for Balak was afraid that his country would be over-run by the Israelites, just as they did to the Amorites. At first, Balaam refused to meet Balak, but he agreed on the second request. On the way, God's angel intercepted Balaam's donkey and warned Balaam only to say what God told
him. Instead of cursing the Israelites, Balaam blessed them three times. Later he tried to bring the downfall of Israelited by encouraging them to worship Balal so that he could gain the reward he had been promised. He was killed when the Israelites attacked the Midianites.

Did Balaam know God, some would ask? In Numbers 22:18, Balaam said to Balak's messengers, "I could not do anything great or small to go beyond the command of the Lord my God" indicating that Balaam knew the God of Israel and worshiped Him.

What was Balaam notorious for? Jude 1:11 describes Balaam as deceiving people for money

: 11 What sorrow awaits them! For they follow in the footsteps of Cain, who killed his brother. Like Balaam, they deceive people for money. And like Korah, they perish in their rebellion. Some aspects of Balaam
We are treading near the edge of some aspects of the Balaam spirit when we invoke curses on believers (mind you, believers redeemed from the curse of the law by the precious blood of Jesus) just for money like Balaam, with this often quoted Malachi 3:8 curse :

8 "Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. "But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' "In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me.
10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says the LORD Almighty. 12 "Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land," says the LORD Almighty
In the old covenant, blessings and curses depended on obedience or disobedience of man to God but in the new covenant we are redeeemed from the curse of the law because Christ became a curse on our behalf:

Galatians 3:13
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written ’Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree” .

The good news is that the Malachi curse is now also nailed and rendered powerless by Jesus on the cross. So, we do not fear about the devourer, mentioned in Malachi 3:8, which is also mentioned in :

Deut 28:38-39:
38 You will sow much seed in the field but you will harvest little, because locusts will devour it.
39 You will plant vineyards and cultivate them but you will not drink the wine or gather the grapes, because worms will eat them……….
The good news is that we are the blessed people, redeemed from the curse of the law and cannot be cursed.

Curses cannot befall on God's people for the simple reason God has blessed us.
Numbers 22:12: are not to curse this people, for I have blessed them.

God, in fact, went to minor details to ensure that Balaam could not curse God's people whom He has intercepting Balaam using the donkey...and so on (please read the full story in Numbers 22-24). We are now in a much better position because Christ our defender, lives in us. We are in the new covenant (Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law) and we are much more blessed people.

How can we be under a curse? There is only one thing we have to do is to choose to live under the law.

Galatians 3:10-13
For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” [e] 11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.”[f] 12 Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.”[g] 13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”[h]), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Choosing to live under the law simply reflects a blatant rejection of Jesus's redemptive work on the cross for us. It also means rejection of the precious blood of Jesus. It is not living by faith in the finished work on the cross.

It is the truth that no christian can ever follow completely all the laws. The Pharisees tried and thought they succeeded, which infact they didn't, as God's standard for the law surpasses that of the Pharisees' standard.

When we live under the law, it simply means we are into more and more rule-keeping (...the man who does them shall live by them - Galatians 3: 12).
For example, when we give based under the old covenant of the tithe, for example, we will straight away be confounded with more and more rules and doubts such as :

do I give 10% of my :

-gross or net income?
-time, interest earned in term deposits, arrears, gifts received during christmas or birthdays.....etc. ?

So, it is a never ending list of more rules!.....and also into more and more condemnations because we can never meet fully those endless demands. To make condemnation even worse, for example, we may ask ourselves :

In Timothy 5: 8 says:
But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.

So what about christians taking care of their old parents, for example, who have to pay for their medical bills or aged care centres because they love their parents but they are struggling to pay 10% tithes because they also have to feed four of their children ...and with a big mortgage to pay. Are they condemned or cursed because they can't afford 10% tithe?

How then can we encourage God's people to give? There is much better way of encouraging Christians to give to support the work of ministry. It is not by invoking curses of Malachi 3:8. The better way is in the new covenant way of giving :

2Corinthians 9:7-8
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

These verses are by no means exhaustive, there are also other verses in the new covenant about giving which includes generosity, supporting those preaching the gospel etc which I would not deal here.

In the final analysis, there are better ways of motivating christians to give in the new covenant but not under duress/condemnation or fear of the curses in Malachi 3:8 (which have already been nailed, nullified and defused on the cross) .........otherwise we may smell like some aspects of Balaam?? of 'deceiving' the redeemed people for money...... eventhough it is for God's work. :)

The good news is that 'you are not to curse this people because I have blessed them' Numbers 22:12.

We are even more blessed, redeemed from the curse of the law because we are now in the new covenant. :)

You may also like to read:

Why are you tithing?

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