the First Week of Lent
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Charles Spurgeon's "Morning & Evening"
“There is not enchantment against Jacob.”
Balak, anxious to induce Balaam to curse Israel, took him from place to place, and offered one sacrifice after another, but all in vain; the Lord stood between his people and the machinations of their enemies. We will read the inspired record of one of Balaam’s oracular speeches it may serve for all.
The king thought that the number, beauty, and order of Israel might have influenced the prophet, and therefore he would only let him see a part of them. The trick was in vain. God does not love his people because of their number. If there were but two or three he would be quite as sure to bless them.
Moses and Balaam both stood on the same hill, but with very different objects. Places cannot change character.
An enquiry which we all should raise, and search the Scriptures to find the reply.
Numbers 23:18 , Numbers 23:19
The immutability of the divine counsel is the safety of the saints. No entreaties of our foes can move the heart of God away from us: we are his chosen, and we shall be so evermore. Every promise is yea and amen in Christ Jesus, and not one single word of the Lord shall ever fall to the ground. Men shift like quicksand, but the Lord is firm as a rock.
No, nor all the devils in hell. The promise is not yea and nay, but yea, yea.
Not such iniquity as to lead him to put them away. Balaam knew that nothing but sin could separate God from Israel, and he saw that by some means or other the Lord had not seen iniquity in his people. We know, what he did not, that a Mediator came between, otherwise Israel’s sins had long before been her destruction. No doubt compared with the Moabites and especially the filthy Canaanites, the people in the wilderness were remarkably pure to Balaams judgment; but it would have fared very ill with them if this had been their only righteousness.
God makes his saints so strong that they astound their adversaries.
No plan of men or devils can succeed against the elect of God. We have no cause to fear evil omens, in fact, it would be sinful to do so. It is wicked to feel the superstitious fear of the old heathen. No magical arts, Satanic devices, or malicious plottings can really injure the beloved of the Lord
God’s work shall baffle man’s, and excite wonder when human malice is forgotten.
He foresaw the military prowess of the nation, and foretold the destruction of the Canaanites by Israel, thus in reality blessing the people whom he was invited to curse.
Vain were the heathen altars
The tide of love to stem;
That tongue for ever falters
That would the saints condemn.
In vain the wrath it mutters,
For God will never curse;
When he the blessing utters,
There’s no man can reverse.
“The Lord is slow to anger.”
We find a recapitulation of the history of the tribes up to this date in Psalms 106:13-33.
After seeing the wonders of the Red sea and other displays of divine power, they speedily forget them all. Sinners have short memories.
It was a great sin on their part that they spoke of the heritage which the Lord promised them as either not existing, or not to be won, or as unworthy of all the toils they endured in reaching it. We must not think lightly of our eternal rest, lest we become slack in our efforts to reach the promised inheritance.
Although Balaam was unable to curse Israel, he did his worst to injure the nation. Believing that nothing but sin could deprive Israel of the protection of Jehovah, he advised Balak to seduce the people to mingle in the licentious festivals held in honour of Baal-peor. This horribly cunning advice was followed, the Moabites exhibited great friendliness, their women fascinated the men of Israel, and the people were led to unite in the dances and other orgies associated with the worship of the Moabitish idol. By this foul plot Balaam did the nation the most serious mischief, by bringing upon them the righteous indignation of the Lord.
Twenty-four thousand persons perished by this plague, which ceased not until summary vengeance had been executed upon those who had turned aside to the Moabitish idols.
Phinehas showed a holy zeal for God, and slew a bold blasphemer, who dared pollute the camp of Israel. Zeal for God, and indignation against sin are highly acceptable to the Lord. On account of the thorough decision of one single individual the plague was withdrawn; this teaches us the great value of holy and fervent spirits in the church.
He who was the meekest of men spake in anger. We have no perfect example save our Lord Jesus. He was never provoked, and never spake unadvisedly. May the same mind be in us which was in him. The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God; may we be delivered from falling into it, however much we may be irritated.
Great Shepherd of Thine Israel,
Who didst between the cherubs dwell,
And ledd’st the tribes, thy chosen sheep,
Safe through the desert and the deep:
Thy church is in the desert now;
Shine from on high, and guide us through;
Turn us to thee, thy love restore;
We shall be saved, and sigh no more.