God’s Permissive Will and God’s Perfect Will by Heather
God’s Permissive Will and God’s Perfect Will
When reading the Bible, at times a verse pops out that causes me to question something, I ask and start searching for the answer and this Bible study is the result of my question regarding these verses.Numbers 22:20-22 The question I had was, why would God tell Balaam to go and then get angry? So I started researching this.
Before we look at Balaam, a few principles need to be covered.
God gives us free will. He loves us and wants us to love Him. If He forced us to love Him and choose His will then we would be little more than robots programmed. Instead God gives us free will. But HIS HEART is that if we choose HIS WAYS, He has the best plan for our lives. Sadly, we often choose not to obey God, and the consequences of our disobedience do not bring God’s best into our lives. God knows the end from the beginning – Isaiah 46:9-11. God knows, for our own growth and development, our free will to choose is crucial, and even though He knows we will not always pick the correct way, He loves us enough to give us that free will. Examples – Adam and Eve, and even the choice we make for salvation is subject to our choosing Him.
JEALOUS GOD/ANGRY GOD
Deuteronomy 5:6-10 What is Godly jealousy? It is a jealousy FOR us. Because God knows the end from the beginning, He knows what we need is to keep Him first, to love Him – if we get pulled to anything else, He knows the result will not be good for us. So God is jealous of anything He knows will cause us harm, for He loves us. Perhaps the key to dealing with God, his anger, his jealousy, his judgment is to know all is motivated by PERFECT LOVE.
Yet again, perfect love requires giving His people the freedom to choose. Deuteronomy 30:18-20 God told His people if they walked in His commandments they would have blessings, if they disobeyed Him there would be curses. God cannot bless disobedience. He gives us the choice though. The same works with God’s anger – He wants the best for us and the best for His people, when we disobey, He is angry – for He knows the end from the beginning.
A BIT OF BACKGROUND HISTORY
Israel has been wandering in the wilderness for 40 years and God covers those 40 years in about 7 chapters of the Bible – when you are not in God’s perfect will not much happens. We find the Israelites in Numbers 20 doing the same thing they did previously, murmuring, complaining and speaking words that will affect their futures. They have come to Kadesh and have no water. It is here Moses will make a grievous error, but listen to the words of the people, Numbers 20:3-5. Moses will ultimately strike the stone, not fully obeying God, and that will cause him to not be able to enter the Promised Land. These are the children of the Israelites who spoke similar words in Numbers 14:2-3 and 27-30. Sounds similar doesn’t it? Seems we can become habitual in our complaints, and our mouth can really deter our blessings. 38 years pass, so we can realize time doesn’t always make one wiser. We have to CHOOSE to change what we are saying, and that will change our outcomes. Faith comes by hearing,
The people are now on the move – they pass by EDOM, (Numbers 20:14) who refuses to let them go through the land, even after an offer to pay. From Edom’s point of view the several million Jews with their cattle would strip the land, and drink up water reserves, so there was some mercenary reasons for refusing them, but God promises to bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel. The EDOMITES are the descendants of ESAU – Obadiah tells us of the sins of EDOM, and the Edomites have no love for Israel, as they believe that Israel stole the blessing from Esau through trickery.
Moses, although being led by the cloud and fire, chooses to skirt around Edom instead of marching through –
Aaron dies and a new high priest is appointed.
They continue marching –Chapter 21, and this time Israel turns to God, Chapter 21:2-3
God gives them victory. They continue toward Mt. Hor and go around Edom. But here their soul is discouraged. Sometimes I think discouragement occurs when we are not doing God’s perfect will for our lives. God would have gladly led the people through Edom if they had trusted Him, instead they went around Edom and discouragement set in. Listen to their words.
Numbers 21:5 sounds familiar doesn’t it? They are murmuring about the MANNA God has faithfully supplied for 40 years – the people have been healthy. Manna facts – they had to collect 6 pints per person times 2 million people, making 12 million pints a day – 4,500 tons of Manna and water for the 2 million people. 360 days per year times 40 years equals 14,400 days of faithfully God has provided water and food for millions of people for 40 years, and now they complain. God send fiery serpents to bite the people – and Moses is instructed to raise a serpent on a pole (the cross) so the people who were bit could choose to look to the cross and be saved – or choose not to look to the cross and die. They continue marching and then reach the Amorites – and King Sihon of the Amorites refuses to let the people pass through his land, so the Amorites are defeated – Numbers 21:4 with the edge of the sword – the Word of God. The people sing a song about this victory – Verses 27-30.
NOW WE COME TO BALAK – NEWS TRAVELS FAST
Numbers 22:1-4 BALAK means Devastator, waster. BALAAM means not of the people and he wasn’t an Israelite – He was from Mesopotamia – yet he spoke with God and had some knowledge of God, enough to be used as God’s prophet. Balaam’s’ father –BEOR – means burning.
Balak’s plan, after seeing Israel defeat the Amorites and knowing about the defeat of the Egyptians, is not to go and negotiate with Israel, which might have been a logical plan of action.
Numbers 22:5-6 he figures he will get Balaam to curse the Israelites. This is the same promise given to Abraham Genesis 12:3 who was also a Gentile. This involves a trip of over 300 miles to get to Balaam, not a small undertaking.
The men come with bribes – Numbers 22:7-8 Balaam goes to God to ask – in reality, he would not have had to ask if he knew the Heart of God, for He would have known that the Heart of God was for the Israelites. Balaam is going hoping to get an answer from God that would allow him to take the bribe – as if God was going to change his affiliation with Israel over some riches for Balaam. Covetousness and loving the God of Mammon causes Balaam to go to God here. Balaam gives an answer – let me pray about this and hear what God has to say. Of course, like us, I think Balaam was not wanting to hear what God was going to say, he wanted to hear what he wanted to hear.
Numbers 22:9-12 Verse 9: God basically is saying, “Why do you even need to pray about this? These men do not have a covenant with Me, but are asking you to curse my covenant people. Why do you need to ask? What Balaam did is what our kids sometimes do to us – ask for something they know we are going to say “no” to, They want a different answer. It is a way of seeing that what we have taught them is still a restrictive law – they haven’t seen the heart behind the restriction – to realize what we are saying “no” to is for their own best interests. The reward offered to Balaam was great, financial and a position of honor and power. Balaam’s desire for this veiled his eyes from sound wisdom, but God took pity on Balaam and gave a clear response to Balaam’s question – NO, YOU SHALL NOT GO WITH THEM, YOU SHALL NOT CURSE THE PEOPLE, THEY ARE BLESSED. This was not an answer that was obscure.
BALAAM OBEYS, BUT LISTEN TO HIS WORDING. Numbers 22:13 – The LORD (Jehovah) has refused…The Moabites probably heard the reluctance “refused”. It is like telling your child not to do something, and they don’t realize the heart of the parent – they only see their desire was thwarted – if they are persistent, like Balaam, they will find a way to do what God has told them not to do – and Balaam will do this – because of his desire for money and position.
The elders make a 300 mile journey back to King Balak with the refusal. Balak will send even more powerful men and bigger bribes. Numbers 22:14-18, v. 18 hint, hint, hint
Both Balak and Balaam have heard the Word of God, but refuse to act on it. James 1:14-17 Jude 11 the error of Balaam – the way of Balaam – which is covetousness. HIS OWN DESIRES – any desire we have contrary to God’s will is covetousness, or idolatry. We can’t be ENTICED by something that we don’t desire. But we can be enticed by anything we don’t put under the cross. The enemy knew Balaam loved money and recognition, so he sent an ungodly king to offer more money- part of his plan to kill off the tribe of Israel.
Numbers 22:18 notice the words COULD NOT – imply being restricted by God from doing what he truly desires. Balaam knows you cannot willfully disobey God and still be blessed. But there is still a trap in this, if you can’t get it one way in the will of God, people tend to search for another way to get what they want within the parameters of the will of God. – that is where we start going down the slippery slope from the PERFECT will of God to the PERMISSIVE will of God. Sometimes, when we don’t get what God is trying to tell us, and don’t see His heart behind what He is telling us, God will permit us to do what is not in our best interests, so that we begin to learn that FATHER KNOWS BEST. I know there have been times in my life that I have not done God’s best for my life, and the consequences helped me to learn through EXPERIENCE. Sometimes Experience hurts. Think of all the good advice we give our kids.
Numbers 22:19 If Balaam REALLY WANTED TO OBEY GOD, he wouldn’t go back and question God to see if God would change his mind – God knows what He is going to do, and doesn’t change. Numbers 23:19 Balaam knows God will not change His mind – Did Balaam think God was going to change his mind because of money? Did he think God wanted him to hold out for a better offer? His passionate desire to get what he wanted overrode his reason. God knew Balaam’s heart, so He says
Numbers 22:20 I am certain God was saddened to have to say this, for He knew what this would lead to – not only for Balaam but for his Children Israel.
Numbers 22:21-22 Here is where we came in – it seemed peculiar that God was ANGRY after he told Balaam to go. God is not schizophrenic. We an see why God is angry if we look at Ezekiel 14:4-9,Judges 21:25 If we really want something and continue to covet what God has already revealed His desire about, He will give it to us, even if it is against His will, but He also knows we will be judged.
Example, Samuel, when the nation Israel wanted a king instead of judges warns Israel, 1 Samuel 8:4-10 God was going to give Israel a King – THE KING OF KINGS, but in His timing, the people kept wanting a King like the other nations had, so God gave them a King – King Saul. Many of the kings brought ruin on the nation of Israel and Israel would end up in Babylonian captivity, but they clamored, and God gave them the desires of their heart. Oh, what a different outcome it would have been if the desire of their heart was for God. Psalm 37:3-5 Think of the trouble we would have escaped if we had obeyed our parents in certain areas, or listened to the advice of our pastor. Sometimes though we are brought to the point where we have to learn from experience. The sad thing is, when the marriage fails, when the problems fall, we forget the Godly advice and end up blaming God.
WHY WOULD GOD PERMIT DISOBEDIENCE IF HE LOVES US AND WANTS US TO DO HIS PERFECT WILL? Again, freedom comes from being able to choose, and God loves us so much He lets us make the wrong choices, hoping against hope we will ultimately be drawn back to HIM. And He will be there with arms outstretched. Think of the Prodigal Son – Luke 15:11-32 The son asks for his inheritance, for his own self-seeking motives. The father does not deny his request, even though he knew his son would handle the inheritance in an incorrect way. The son leaves the father’s presence, wastes the money, and ultimately Verse 17-18 – comes to himself and comes back to the father. Where is the father, watching for the return of his son, and it is the only time we see God running – Verse 20 to meet His lost son and restore Him.
Balaam will not make this choice to get back into God’s perfect will, and his demise will be at the end of the sword. Jude 11-12
Balaam sits on his donkey verse 23-30 – Balaam is so caught up in his desire, that He, a prophet who has seen God, does not notice the Angel of the Lord, it takes a donkey to speak with him. God will use whatever it takes to get our attention – and sometimes the most important messages are sent by a messenger we would not expect. Balaam wanted to press forward, but the donkey seeing the angel of the lord seeks to save Balaam by saying “naaaaay” Balaam is not awed by the fact his donkey was talking – although I assume most donkeys of that day did not talk. Reminds me of Mr. Ed or Francis the talking mule.
Angel of the LORD – Joshua 5:13-15 worshipped him – angels not accept worship – Revelation 22:8-9 when the Angel of the LORD is mentioned it is a pre-incarnate vision of Jesus – This is another warning to Balaam that he refuses to see.
Still Balaam did not see the heart of God Numbers 22:31-34 and is only motivated by survival to turn back, not by the heart of God. Isn’t it awesome how God gives us chance after chance after chance to change, but when we are “hell bent” on our own destruction, God lets us go forward. The angel warns Balaam verse 35
Balaam meets Balak, and they go to the high places of Baal to observe the nation of Israel. Balaam has the king build seven altars, and get seven bulls and seven rams (pretty headstrong animals), and they sacrifice a bull and a ram on each of the seven altars. I wonder who they are sacrificing them to. Notice Balak – a pagan is not going to his god to ask for help, he must know his gods are impotent, so they are sacrificing to God, but not at the spot God told them to sacrifice or even a sacrifice at God’s commands – remember the laws of Moses are in effect and sacrifices were done at a prescribed spot in a prescribed manner. So Balaam gives a blessing not a curse.
Balak then brings Balaam to the next mountain – they build seven more altars, sacrifice seven more bulls and rams – Is God going to be bought by multiple sacrifices or bribes?
And then the third mountain – with another seven altars, seven bulls and seven rams.
What did he see in verse 2?
EAST: Judah 74,600; Issachar 54,400; Zebulon 57,400 = 186,400
NORTH: Dan 62,700; Asher 41,500; Naphtali 53,400 = 157,600
SOUTH: Reuben 46,500; Simeon 59,300; Gad 45,650 =151,450
WEST: Ephriam 40,500; Manasseh 32,200, Benjamin 35,400 = 108,100
He saw the Cross! Formed around the Tabernacle.
Balaam makes a fourth prophecy, and all he said will come to pass, including Numbers 24:17 which talks about Jesus. The ERROR of BALAAM is that he did not factor in the cross.
One last thing to look at Numbers 25:1-3 When Balak was angry at Balaam, Balaam hinted to Balak that the only way to have victory with the Israelites was to get them to sin against God. He suggested camping near Israel and sending in the beautiful women to tempt the men, get Israel to intermarry and ultimately to begin to worship idols. This is called the DOCTRINE of BALAAM – Revelation 2:14 – compromising Israel for money. What Balaam did not factor in though was the Cross – God already had in mind a plan for redemption – and all the nations that came against Israel – the Moabites, the Edom, the Kennites, all perished and are no more. As Pastor Don says, does anyone speak Moabite? Or Edomite? No. Those nations perished.
THE END OF BALAAM
Deut 23:4-5 – curse-blessing
Joshua 24:10 blessed not cursed
Neh 13:2-curse to blessing
WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE US? HOW DO WE SEEK THE PERFECT WILL OF GOD?
Just like Balaam, God has given us the Cross, and it is only through falling at the foot of the Cross that we can begin to seek God’s perfect will. In Moses’ time the people approached God through the Mercy seat, but we have Christ. Balaam had a choice to obey God or not, we too have a choice. Do we accept the perfect gift of salvation or not? Romans 3:23-25. It is not what we do, but WHO WE KNOW that matters.
After we have accepted Christ in our lives, and have His Spirit dwelling within us, He begins to work His perfect work in us. We will be renewed Romans 12:1-2. To renew our minds we need to keep in the Word of God and obey what we learn from His word.
We need to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
When we get out of God’s perfect will, we need to stop what we are doing in our own understanding and begin to walk the way God wants us to walk. Proverbs 3:3, 5-6 God will direct our paths if we keep His word and seek Him with all our heart. 11-12, He will chasten us when we are out of His perfect will, and we need to seek to learn from what has happened.
You can’t do God’s will if you insist on doing your own thing. Psalm 37:23-29 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord…The Spirit of the Lord and the Word of the Lord have to agree. If we do not have peace about an action, if we keep having to come to God asking and asking, hoping that God will change His mind, we can pretty much assume we are out of God’s perfect will for our lives.
James 4:7-10 resist the devil and he will flee.
Romans 13:13-14 If we put on Jesus, we will not be tempted by the Balaks of the world.
Isaiah 30:21 and when we have Jesus in our lives, He will direct our paths.
What is frightening is when we think that we can pull the wool over God’s eyes. We can’t . Ezekiel 8:9-12 God does see.
Let us be washed by the Word, by the blood of Christ, and walk the way He directs us, not turning to the left or the right.
ASK – James 4:2-3
SEEK GOD 1 Cor. 2:4-5
Know who you are in Christ
Know His word so you will not be pulled astray
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