Dec. 24, 2022

Ep. 42 - Balaam (Part 1)

Ep. 42 - Balaam (Part 1)

Deut. 2:1 – 3:11, Num. 21:21 – 24:25.  Israel starts racking up some victories.

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Deut. 2:1 – 3:11, Num. 21:21 – 24:25.  Israel starts racking up some victories.  

“Papa’s Bible Stories” brings the Bible to life for your kids.  For each episode, I pick a Bible story to talk to my very own kids about.  The stories are entirely Bible-based, scripture is quoted at every opportunity, and the kids are always pointed to the Bible as the authority.  And we’re not afraid of having a little fun too!  It is my hope and prayer that your kids will be excited to explore God’s Word for themselves after hearing each and every episode.  #bible #stories #kids #children #adventist #sda  



Last we left the Israelites, they were still making their way around Edom.  Because of their complaining at Kadesh, they were taking the long way to the Promised Land.  And after they finally made their way around Edom (and after a bunch of people died from a snake invasion), they started to head north…with the idea to enter the Promised Land from the east instead of from the south like they had originally wanted to.  And that’s when they came across another country called Moab.  And just as the Israelites were getting ready to forcefully make their way through Moab, God spoke to Moses and said, “Do not harass Moab, nor contend with them in battle, for I will not give you any of their land as a possession, because I have given Ar to the descendants of Lot as a possession.” (Deut. 2:9) Oh…so the Moabites were descendants of Lot and so they were protected just like the Edomites (who don’t forget were descendants of Esau)?  Man, what are the chances of that?  But the Israelites followed God’s command, and they went through the “wilderness” of Moab…which means that they went through a part of Moab that didn’t have any people.  And after making that detour, they came across another country…this one called Ammon.  And just as the Israelites were getting ready to forcefully make their way through Ammon, God spoke to Moses again, and said, “…when you come near the people of Ammon, do not harass them or meddle with them, for I will not give you any of the land of the people of Ammon as a possession, because I have given it to the descendants of Lot as a possession.” (2:19) Oh…so Ammon was another country descended from Lot and was protected?  Man…when were they going to run into a country that wasn’t protected?  But of course, the Israelites obeyed and they went through the “wilderness” of Ammon as well.

And continuing north, the Israelites ran into the land of the Amorites…not to be confused with the Ammonites…the Amorites.  (Which, btw kidzos, if you’re getting a bit lost with all these countries and directions and detours, I’ve put up a map of Israel’s journey to the Promised Land on  Check it out…it might help a little bit.  I know that I have a much easier time following a story like this when I have a map.)  So was the the land of the Amorites another country protected by God?  Well, no.  No finally they were finally coming across a country that wasn’t protected.  In fact, God told Moses, “I have given into your hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his land.” (2:24) And so the Israelites geared up to forcefully make their way through the land of the Amorites.  But, wanting to give the Amorites the chance to be peaceful, Moses sent messengers to King Sihon (just like he had done with the Edomites) saying, “Let me pass through your land; I will keep strictly to the road, and I will turn neither to the right nor to the left. (28)  You shall sell me food for money, that I may eat, and give me water for money, that I may drink; only let me pass through on foot.” (2:27-28)

But, the Amorites said no way Jose, and then marched their whole army to fight with Israel.  Now, the Amorites were a warlike people.  In fact, this land had just recently been part of Moab, and the Amorites had conquered it.  No doubt the Israelites would have been afraid to fight the warlike Amorites.  But the Israelites were learning to trust God…and God had said that He would help them defeat the Amorites…so they moved forward in faith.  The battle began with King Sihon and his army.  And the Bible says that the Israelites, “defeated him, his sons, and all his people. (34)  We took all his cities at that time, and we utterly destroyed the men, women, and little ones of every city; we left none remaining.” (2:33-34) So, the Israelites defeated the Amorites…but boy the Israelites were kinda harsh eh?  They didn’t take any prisoners and killed all the men, women, and children even after the army had been defeated?  Why did they do that?  Well kidzos, that’s a big question that Papa’s not going to have time to answer in this episode.  But, we do need to talk about it, because this same thing is going to happen more than a few times as the Israelites makes their way further and further into the Promised Land.  So, what I think we’re going to do here is bring back Mama and we’re going to do another bonus episode where we will really get into it.  Sound like a plan?  Ok great.  So stayed tuned for that.

Now the Amorites had lived right next to the Promised Land.  And with the Amorites defeated, the road to the Promised Land lay open.  There were no other countries in the way.  And the Israelites probably started packing to get ready for the short journey.  But, instead of heading west towards the Promised Land, the pillar of cloud (which was still leading them after all these years) started going north.  Now to the north was another country called Bashan.  Bashan was to the north east of the Promised Land, was full of more war like people, and full of many fortress cities (with high walls, gates, and bars) and they had a giant king.  This giant king’s name was Og, and King Og was huge.  The Bible tells us that King Og’s bed was 13 feet long.  I just measured Mama and Papa’s bed, and it is only 6 and a half feet long.  So King Og’s bed was about twice as long as a regular bed.  Imagine how big this guy was!  And after taking it all in, I’m sure that more than a few Israelites were wondering…are we sure that we need to attack these people?  I mean…the Promised Land was right there!!  But God told the Israelites, “Do not fear him, for I have delivered him and all his people and his land into your hand; you shall do to him as you did to Sihon king of the Amorites…” (3:2) And so, trusting in God, the Israelites moved forward and fought with giant King Og and his army.  And after fighting with them, the Bible says that the Israelites, “utterly destroyed them, as we did to Sihon king of Heshbon, utterly destroying the men, women, and children of every city.” (3:6)

After their successful battles against the the Amorites and against Bashan, the Israelites did indeed finally turn west and headed towards the Promised Land.  And they setup camp in a place called the Plains of Moab, which as you might guess was really close to Moab and was just on the other side of the Jordan River…not a stone’s throw from the Promised Land.  And the Israelites were probably super happy right now…they had just defeated two of the strongest nations around…God was on their side…and it must have felt that nothing could stand in their way as long as they kept trusting God’s leading.  But while the Israelites were super happy, all the other nations around them…weren’t.  Like really weren’t.  They all looked at what Israel had done to the Amorites and to Bashan…and were like oh boy…if the Israelites can do that to the Amorites and Bashan…then what could they do to us?  We’re definitely going to be next!  In fact, God had told the Israelites that after they defeated the Amorites that He would, “put the dread and fear of you upon the nations under the whole heaven, who shall hear the report of you, and shall tremble and be in anguish because of you.” (2:25) So, all the surrounding nations were of course petrified of the Israelites…and this was especially the case for…Moab. 

Now as you kidzos already know…Moab was one of those protected nations that Israel had gone around on their way to fight the Amorites.  But, it seems that the Moabites didn’t know that they were protected.  Because the Bible says that the king of Moab, a man name Balak, “saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites.  And Moab was exceedingly afraid of the people because they were many, and Moab was sick with dread because of the children of Israel.” (Num. 22:2-3) So, the Moabites were super afraid of the Israelites…and there the Israelites were camping right on their doorstep.  What were they going to do?  They obviously couldn’t attack the Israelites…but they had to figure out something.  So what else could they do?  Well, it seems that King Balak decided to think creatively…if God’s blessing was helping the Israelites to win battles, then maybe God’s curse would stop them from winning battles.  But how could King Balak get the Israelites to be cursed?  Well, in those days, blessings and curses were what prophets did.  And as it turns out, Moses wasn’t the only prophet in town.  There was another prophet of God that lived not too far away, and his name was Balaam. 

Now Balaam lived about a 2-week journey away in Mesopotamia…which is the general area that Abraham had come from all those years ago.  You kidzos remember Abraham right?  And Balaam was indeed a real prophet of God.  He had a reputation that those he blessed were blessed, and those he cursed were cursed.  But even though he had a good reputation and even though he was still a prophet of God, it seems that Balaam had lost his way…and that he had become someone that really loved money.  And it seems that Balaam came to love money so much that he ended up putting his blessings and curses up for sale.  The Bible says that Balaam, “loved the wages of unrighteousness.” (2 Pet: 2:15) Yikes.  So, if you went to Balaam to ask him to pray for you or to bless you, Balaam would probably have been like, ‘sure…that will be $100 please’.  Terrible, right?  I mean…what kind of a prophet is that?  But…even though this was obviously wrong, it didn’t seem to bother King Balak at all (probably because he had lots of money), and he sent some elders off to Mesopotamia with…you guessed it…lots of money.  And the elders were to use the money to pay off Balaam, and to convince Balaam to come to Moab and curse the Israelites.

Once these elders arrived in Mesopotamia, they found out where Balaam’s house was, and immediately went there and delivered Balak’s message, which said, “Look, a people has come from Egypt.  See, they cover the face of the earth, and are settling next to me!  Therefore please come at once, curse this people for me, for they are too mighty for me.  Perhaps I shall be able to defeat them and drive them out of the land, for I know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed.” (22:5-6) Now, more than likely, Balaam had already heard of these people who “cover the face of the earth” (yah know…the Israelites).  And being a prophet of God, Balaam also would have known that the Israelites were God’s people, that they weren’t to be cursed, and that he should just go ahead and say no right now and send these Moabites on their way.  But then Balaam probably caught a glimpse of the money that the Moabites had brought with them…and boy…that was a lot of money.  I mean, there were a lot of things Balaam could do with all that money.  So Balaam decided…well…ya know what…let’s not be so hasty.  Let’s just ask God…and who knows…maybe somehow God will change his mind on this.  And so, Balaam said to the Moabites, “Lodge here tonight, and I will bring back word to you, as the Lord speaks to me.” (22:8) And the Moabites agreed, and they all settled in for the night.

Now even though Balaam was not the best prophet in the world, God still spoke with him.  And overnight, God came to Balaam and asked, “Who are these men with you?” (22:9) And Balaam explained who they were and repeated King Balak’s message asking Balaam to come to Moab and curse the Israelites.  And then God said to Balaam, “You shall not go with them; you shall not curse the people, for they are blessed” (22:12) And in the morning, once everyone was awake, a frustrated Balaam gave his answer to the Moabites, “Go back to your land, for the Lord has refused to give me permission to go with you.” (22:13) Balaam was a bit upset…because that was a lot of money to be sending out the door.  But…what could he do…God had given His answer.  And so the disappointed Moabites took their money and went back to King Balak to give him the bad news, “Balaam refuses to come with us.” (22:14) The answer was no.

But when King Balak heard Balaam’s answer, he didn’t take it as a no.  Instead, Balak took the answer as saying “you just have to offer me more money”.  And so Balak tried again.  And the Bible says that Balak, “again sent princes, more numerous and more honourable than they.” (22:15) So, back to Mesopotamia went more elders and princes, and they said to Balaam, “Thus says Balak the son of Zippor: ‘Please let nothing hinder you from coming to me; for I will certainly honour you greatly, and I will do whatever you say to me.  Therefore please come and curse this people for me.” (22:16) So basically, Balak was telling Balaam that if he would just come to Moab and curse the Israelites that he would give Balaam as much money as he wanted…as much money as he could possibly imagine.

And this was no doubt making Balaam really uncomfortable.  He already knew what God’s answer was…Balaam was not to go to Moab and he was not to curse the Israelites.  But…King Balak was offering him a lot of money…as much money as he could possibly imagine…and Balaam could imagine a lot!  If Balaam went with the Moabites and cursed the Israelites, even if it didn’t work…he would be set for life…he would never need to make another prophecy for the rest of his life.  How could he pass that up?  How could he let all that money go out the door again?  And as the Moabite princes stood there waiting for his answer, Balaam struggled to make a decision.  Balaam knew the right thing to do was to send the Moabites packing again.  But…it was a lot of money.  And boy he really liked money.  Would Balaam do the right thing?  Would he follow God’s will?  Or would Balaam give in to his desire for money?  Well, we will find out all about it…next time.