I’m really fascinated by the story of Balaam and Balak in Numbers.
At this point, Israel is coming from Sinai is moving towards the promised land. And there’s a side story that happens in Numbers 22-24 that Israel is wholly unaware of, making this account so fascinating.
If you remember, basically the king of Moab is really scared that Israel is coming so he hires this prophet Balaam, who apparently knows the Lord, to curse the people of Israel. And instead of cursing, he blesses because God has chosen to bless Israel.
And so Balaam gives four powerful prophetic words that reveal the identity and the destiny of the people of Israel in these few chapters, all the while Israel is wholly unaware that this is happening.
I think this “side-story” is a perfect lesson for Christians who need to remember that there are lot of “side stories” happening around us.
A lot of times I know that churches identity themselves as Israel in that we are the center of what God is doing. We just got delivered and now we’re moving towards the promise land! As a result, we can get very us-centered, which is not bad, but sometimes we fail to see what God is doing outside our context of ministry.
Here, Israel is wholly unaware that there is a powerful prophet from the land of Moab who knows the Lord (don’t we forget that other people outside of our church know the Lord?). And they are unaware that this prophet has just blessed them (don’t we forget that other people outside of our ministry bless us?). And lastly, there are completely unaware that this unknown prophet may have just altered the destiny of the people of Israel with these powerful prophetic words.
Do we ever think that there people outside of our context whom God has elected to actually alter our destiny as God’s people?
I pray we see and receive those people and those groups. Because I think it will serve to remind us that God is working awesomely outside of our assignment in ministry. That there are many “Balaam’s” in the world who know the Lord intimately and will actually bless what we are doing for God. And I think it humble us as we are reminded that God is so much bigger than our immediate ministry context-that he loves, moves, and operates with and through people we may have never met.
And so may Balaam be a reminder to us that it’s not just about our ministry!