06 God Who Corrects

UNIT #: 
II
Lesson Theme: 
Trusting and obeying God wholeheartedly.
Aim: 

To understand our need to trust God and do His will rather than our own. 

Bible Passage: 

Numbers 22:21-41

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

21 So Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey, and went with the officials of Moab.

Balaam, the Donkey, and the Angel

22 God’s anger was kindled because he was going, and the angel of the Lord took his stand in the road as his adversary. Now he was riding on the donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23 The donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road, with a drawn sword in his hand; so the donkey turned off the road, and went into the field; and Balaam struck the donkey, to turn it back onto the road. 24 Then the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path between the vineyards, with a wall on either side. 25 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it scraped against the wall, and scraped Balaam’s foot against the wall; so he struck it again. 26 Then the angel of the Lord went ahead, and stood in a narrow place, where there was no way to turn either to the right or to the left. 27 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it lay down under Balaam; and Balaam’s anger was kindled, and he struck the donkey with his staff. 28 Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?” 29 Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have made a fool of me! I wish I had a sword in my hand! I would kill you right now!” 30 But the donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey, which you have ridden all your life to this day? Have I been in the habit of treating you this way?” And he said, “No.”

31 Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road, with his drawn sword in his hand; and he bowed down, falling on his face. 32 The angel of the Lord said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? I have come out as an adversary, because your way is perverse before me. 33 The donkey saw me, and turned away from me these three times. If it had not turned away from me, surely just now I would have killed you and let it live.” 34 Then Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned, for I did not know that you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now therefore, if it is displeasing to you, I will return home.” 35 The angel of the Lord said to Balaam, “Go with the men; but speak only what I tell you to speak.” So Balaam went on with the officials of Balak.

36 When Balak heard that Balaam had come, he went out to meet him at Ir-moab, on the boundary formed by the Arnon, at the farthest point of the boundary. 37 Balak said to Balaam, “Did I not send to summon you? Why did you not come to me? Am I not able to honor you?” 38 Balaam said to Balak, “I have come to you now, but do I have power to say just anything? The word God puts in my mouth, that is what I must say.” 39 Then Balaam went with Balak, and they came to Kiriath-huzoth. 40 Balak sacrificed oxen and sheep, and sent them to Balaam and to the officials who were with him.

Balaam’s First Oracle

41 On the next day Balak took Balaam and brought him up to Bamoth-baal; and from there he could see part of the people of Israel.

Teacher’s Preparation: 

In the Book of Numbers we see the children of Israel departing from Mount Sinai and they marched to Kadesh-barnea and reached there.  God asked them to send spies to Canaan to explore the land and they came back and reported that it is indeed a land flowing with milk and honey, but they also reported that it was a land full of giants.  When the people heard about the giants they did not want to go forward.  Because of this unbelief in God and his power, God judged them and they wandered in the wilderness for forty years.  In the Book of Numbers we see the people of Israel failing again and again because of disbelief and how God chastises them.  So the theme for the Book of Numbers is Trust.  Trusting God wholeheartedly. 

When we face struggles, we often question what we should do.  In our minds we contemplate the options that lay before us but even that doesn't help at times.  Although we may rack our brains on what we should do, the answer has never been more simple.  We need to trust in God and move forward.  However we don't always see this simple answer.  We reason on our understanding of the situation and use our longings to guide us.  The Scripture calls this the ' way of Balaam'.  

Most of the time, the decisions we make is the incorrect or not the right one and it complicates the situation even further.   God in his love gives us the free will to go on our own, even though he already knows the outcome.  Therefore when we reach the points in life where we regret our decisions, we often realize that we should have prayed through the situation and trusted God in the first place.  The Scriptures teach us this lesson through the Babylonian diviner Balaam.  God used him to show us how we take things into our own hands when we should have listened to God and obeyed Him.   ​

Background of the story.

The Israelites, who have been delivered from Egypt, have not yet reached the land of Canaan, they are at the border of Canaan. Their reputation however precedes them and other nations are in fear of the Israelites and their God.  As they continue on their journey, the Israelites send messengers to Sihon, king of the Amorites, to let them pass through their country.  Sihon however does not wish to cooperate with them and instead gathered his army and went to fight with the Israelites.  The Israelites killed Sihon and captured his land.  They passed through the Amorite territory and arrived at the kingdom of Bashan.  Og, the king of Bashan, reacts in the same way as King Sihon.  The Israelites again wiped out the imposing enemy with the help of the Lord and killed Og and his sons.  Now, the Israelites are camped near Jordan river across from Jericho and the kingdom of Moab is in front of them.  

Balak, the king of Moab, and his whole nation heard stories about the Israelites and their leader Moses. They heard what the Israelites have done to the Amorites and the people of Bashan.  Balak realized that he could not fight and win against the Israelites, he was looking for a way out of this situation to save himself and his kingdom.  Balak finally decides to get the help of Babylonian diviner (seer or prophetic intermediary) Balaam to pronounce a potent curse against the Israelites.  In ancient times it was believed that words spoken as a curse or as a blessing had power to achieve the desired result. 

King Balak invited Balaam to stand on a hilltop where the Israelites could be seen and say a curse against them.  But scripture affirm that Balaam had to obey the instructions of the God of Israel and couldn't curse Israel but blesses them four different times at four different places where Balak took him to curse Israel.

  

Main Ideas: 

Todays lesson is taken from the book of Numbers.  The book is called 'Numbers' because the Israelites were counted twice in this book.  A census of the people were seen taken in the first chapter  and in the twenty sixth chapter. 

In the Book of Numbers we see Israelites traveling from Mount Sinai and marching to Kadesh-barnea.  God asked them to send spies to Canaan to explore the land and they came back and reported that it is indeed a land flowing with milk and honey, but they also reported that it was a land full of giants.  When the people heard about the giants they did not want to go forward.  Because of this unbelief in God and his power, God judged them and they wandered in the wilderness for forty years.

This lesson teaches us why we should trust God wholeheartedly in every situations in our life and not on our reasons.  The Scripture teach us this lesson through the story of 'the way of Balaam'.  Balaam was a Babylonian diviner with a reputation through out the region.  God used him to show us how we take things into our own hands when we should have listened to God and obeyed Him.  

Israelites are on the border of Canaan.  To pass into Canaan, they have to pass through the land of the Amorites and the kingdom of Bashan.  Israelites asked permission to pass through these lands to their kings Sihon and Og, both of them refused and Israelites fought with them and killed both the kings and captured their land.  The next place to go through is Moab and this kingdom was ruled by their king Balak.

Balak, the king of Moab, and his whole nation heard stories about the Israelites and their leader Moses. They saw what the Israelites have done to the Amorites and the people of Bashan.  Balak realized that he could not fight and win against the Israelites, he was looking for a way out of this situation to save himself and his kingdom.  Balak finally decides to get the help of Babylonian diviner (seer or prophetic intermediary) Balaam to pronounce a potent curse against the Israelites.​ Once this was done he would be able to fight the Israelites, defeat them and save his kingdom.  So Balak sent the elders of Moab with gifts for Balaam so that he would come and curse the Israelites. 

Balaam saw the gifts and he asked God what to do.  God told Balaam that he should not curse the people who God had blessed, so Balaam told the elders of Moab that he would not curse the Israelites and that they should go back to their land.  Balak doesn't give up though, he again sends the elders of Moab with even more gifts to give to Balaam and bring him.  This time Balaam told the elders that he know that Balak will give him plenty of silver and gold, but he cannot disobey God, but he will find out what more the Lord tells him and asked them to stay the night.  What this means is that, in his heart Balaam wants the silver and gold, at the same time he is afraid of God and would like to know whether God will change his mind so that he can have the silver and gold.  God was not pleased with what Balaam did, but told Balaam this time to go with the elders but do only what God tells him.  

So Balaam got up in the morning and is on the way to see Balak on his donkey.  As God already knew Balak's intentions, God was angry that Balaam was going to see Balak.  God sent his Angel who went and stood in the middle of the road with a drawn sword. Balaam's donkey saw the Angel of the Lord and left the road and went into a field, then to a narrow path with walls on both sides and then to a narrow path where there was no space to turn and the donkey lay down under Balaam and Balaam hit the donkey all three times with his staff.  God then made the donkey talk like a man and finally opened Balaams eyes so that he could see the Angel of the Lord standing in front of the donkey with a drawn sword and the Angel of the Lord told Balaam that, had the donkey not turned away all three times, Balaam would have been killed.  Balaam understood that he had gone against the wishes of the Lord and was ready to go back to his home, but the Angel of the Lord asked him to go with the elders of Moab but only say what God would tell him, so Balaam went with the elders to Moab and to Balak.

Balak then took Balaam to see the Israelites and Balaam asked to prepare altars for sacrifices and Balaam did the sacrifices on the altars and God gave him the messages and Balaam delivered the messages or oracles and blessed the Israelites four times at four different places, instead of cursing them.  

The decision Balaam took to ask God a second time whether he can go with the elders of Moab and disobeying the first instructions God gave him,   is called Balaams way.  The way of Balaam was covetousness.​ ​

In life's situations, when we have to make decisions and when we ask for the wisdom of God, we should always remember the example of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and what Jesus did during His time of greatest trial at the garden of Gethsemane.  Jesus prayed and finally declared "Not my will, but yours be done".  Like our Lord, we should be ready to do God's will and not ours.

Activities: 

Get an Old Testament map and chart the way of the Israelites from Egypt to Mount Sinai, Mount Sinai to Kadesh-barenea.  Mark the Kingdoms of Amorites, Bashan and Moab.  Mark the River Jordan.

Lesson Review: 

1.  The book of Numbers is called the book of Numbers because............................................................

A. The Israelites were counted twice in this book. B. A census of the people were seen taken in the first chapter  and in the twenty sixth chapter. C. The number of times the Israelites disobeyed God. D. It tells stories about numbers. (Answer: A & B are correct)

2. God Judged the Israelites at Kadesh-barnea because of their ............................................................... 

A. God did not like them. B. Israelites questioned ​God. C. Unbelief in God and his power. D. Israelites deserved punishment. (Answer: C)

3. Sihon was the king of the  ..................... and .............was the king of Bashan.

Answer: Sihon was the king of the Amorites and Og was the king of Bashan.

4. Balak was the king of ....................... Answer: Moab

5. Balaam was a .............................

A. Magician. B. Solider. C. Diviner. D. Minister Answer: C. 

6. Balak wanted Balaam to ...................... the Israelites.

A. Defeat. B. Curse. C. Bless. D. Fight. Answer: B. 

7. Why did Balaam go a second time to God for an answer?

A. He was afraid. B. He wanted to help Balak. C. He wanted the silver and gold. D. He wanted to change God's opinion.  Answer: C. 

8. Why was the Angel of the Lord standing infront of Balaam and his donkey with a drawn sword?

A. To let know that the Angel of the Lord was not pleased with Balaam's decision.  B. Angel was angry with Balaam and his donkey.  C.  Angel wanted to protect Balaam and his donkey from danger.  D.  To let know that God was angry with Balaam's decision to go with the elders.  Answer: D.

9. What does the lesson teach us?

A. Trust God wholeheartedly in every situation and not on our reasons.  B. Obey what seems right.  C. If we can get good rewards go for it.  D. God will not punish our disobedience.  Answer: A.

10. Who has shown us the best example of obedience to the Lord?

A. Balaam. B. Donkey. C. Jesus Christ D. The elders.  Answer: C.

 

 

 

Values for Life: 

We should be ready to do God's will and not ours.

Life Response/My Decision: 

I will trust and obey the Lord and Jesus's obedience to the Lord God is my best example.

Memory Verse: 

Hebrews 10:31

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Closing Prayer: 

Dear Lord thank you for giving us your Word to guide us.  Help us to be obedient to you and to your word.  Thank you for sending us Jesus Christ to save us. Help us to make wise decisions according to your will and not based on our reasons, likes and dislikes.  Be with us and guard and guide us.

In Jesus precious name we pray.

Amen.

status: 
scope and sequence