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Dad holding child ice-skater March 8 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Numbers 22, 23, 24

God Protects His Own

A mother and father protect their children. Employers show loyalty to their employees. The military have a code—no soldier left behind. Pastors speak well of their people and love them like family. In today's Bible reading God protects his people from curses. How does God protect us?

After forty years of wilderness wanderings for their sin and rebellion, God is favorable to Israel once again and gives her military victories. Israel conquers the Amorites and King Og of Bashan and his army. This causes great fear with Balak, king of the Moabites. The large horde of Israelites are right on his border, and he fears they are too large for his armies to defeat. Balak then attempts to hire Balaam, a man who has a reputation for demonic divination. Whomever Balaam curses is cursed and whomever he blesses is blessed. Balak sends princes to Balaam with a divination fee to secure his services.

God loves Israel, however, and she is under his protection. Balaam asks the LORD what he should do—should he go with them or not? God says no; Israel is blessed by him, the Sovereign LORD. The princes are sent back to Balak. Frustrated, the king sends him more distinguished royalty with promises of great riches. Balaam is very tempted and wants to go. Balaam asks the LORD once more for he “loved the wages of wickedness” (2Peter 2:15, NIV). Seeing Balaam is determined, the LORD gives his consent, warning him to do only what the Sovereign one tells him. Yet, God is angry that he went. As a parent who has already said no to his child and is asked again, God gives reluctant permission but qualifies it.

Balaam knows God does not really want him to go. When he leaves anyway, thinking he has technically received permission, he is frustrated by his vehicle of transportation, his donkey. Unseen by Balaam but seen by his animal, the Angel of the LORD with a drawn sword in his hand stands in front of their path wherever they go. The donkey knows more than Balaam and tries to avoid the Angel, first turning aside into a field, then crushing Balaam's ankle against a wall, and then finally laying down. Balaam is angry. He beats his animal three times and then, miraculously, the donkey speaks to him, asking him why his master is beating him. Then God opens Balaam's eyes to see the threatening scene—the Angel of the LORD is standing in their path! The donkey was just trying to protect his master. Nevertheless, the Angel lets him go on his way but tells Balaam again that he can only speak what God wants him to speak.

Do we do whatever the LORD says, or do we act according to our own desires and in a way which profits us? We need to please God with our actions and our words. (James 3:2-10).

When Balak calls upon Balaam to curse Israel, he does not curse her—he blesses her! He seeks the LORD's will twice, but because God is sovereign and loves Israel, only harm can come to her if he allows it. He is Israel's defense. Balaam can only say what the Almighty wants him to say. Therefore, to Balak's anger and dismay, Balaam blesses Israel three times.

David later writes in one of his songs, “As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him” (Psalm 18:30, NIV). God keeps his promise to Israel, given back in the time of Abraham: “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:3, NIV).

Does God defend us like Israel? The Apostle Paul later writes to Christians,

If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39, NIV)

Only calamities or other trouble which God allows can come upon us. He loves and defends us; we are his children if we have a personal relationship with him (more...).

Lessons to Live By

  • If you know God's answer, you do not have to ask again; his will is the same. Just obey him.
  • Do we do whatever the LORD says, or do we act according to our own desires and in a way which profits us? We need to please God with our actions and our words.
  • God loves and defends us; we are his children if we have a personal relationship with him (more...). Only calamities or other trouble which the LORD allows can come upon us.

note: The Angel of the LORD is probably a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ

Focus Verse

Psalm 18:30 (NIV) “As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.”

praying hands Write a private prayer response to today’s Bible study:

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A Look Ahead: God protects his own, but we must live Responsible lives to keep his blessings. When we mess up, we must come to God for Restoration. See what this means in our Next Lesson.

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