Day 23

Balak Seeks a Curse

from the reading plan

Numbers 21:10-35, Numbers 22:1-41, Psalm 37:1-3, 2 Peter 2:14-16

Last summer our family hustled to buy a house in the next school district because we didn’t love the public school down the street. I decorated our home like an HGTV before-and-after photoshoot, painting every room Sherwin Williams “Anew Gray,” purging drawers and closets (how many broken pens does one family own?), packing half our belongings to stage rooms like a Magnolia Home display at Target.

We spent weeks looking for a new house. Then we found it: a larger fixer-upper perfect for all of our ministry dreams—including a basement that we imagined transforming into a youth group hangout, decked-out with hanging lights and retro couches. Yes! This was it.

We turned in a fair offer, and the owner’s realtor was angry. We turned in a bumped-up offer, and the owners were still offended. So the house sat there for months, and we enrolled our son in the local school down the street. He started thriving—nothing we feared happened, and we settled back into our house. Months later, the fixer-upper sold to someone else for the original price we offered.

What a waste of time and energy.

Sometimes fear makes us try to protect ourselves in outlandish ways—even moving houses. We can maybe understand Balak, king of Moab, when he feared the Israelites because he had heard about their wars with other kingdoms and how they were moving into their lands. We can understand why Balak started scrambling for his own workaround. But the fact was that God already told Israel through Moses to not fight with the Moabites (Deuteronomy 2:9). Balak had nothing to fear in the first place (Psalm 37:1–3).

Nevertheless, Balak thought he needed to do something. So he turned to a seer, Balaam, one famous for his effectiveness in blessing and cursing. It was believed then that a nation’s god was thought to have the most power over them, so Balaam then entreated Israel’s God to curse them.

Written by Seana Scott

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