Cover to Cover
This is the second event of food being multiplied. This time the people followed Him for three days without eating, and Jesus was concerned for their wellbeing if they were to try to travel back to their cities and towns on foot. He knew their bodies needed sustenance. Again, Jesus looks to the disciples and asks, “What do you have?” In other words, look around, see what is at your disposal. When God prepares to do a miracle, He usually will do something to work together with us, in faith, or reliant obedience to Him.
The Pharisees seek a sign. In verse 12, Jesus signs deeply in His spirit. Did Jesus have emotions? Yes. Did Jesus feel disappointed by people who used religion to try to dominate Him? Yes. If you are a Christian attempting to shared the Gospel or if you are a church leader attempting to deal with proudful Christians, yes, it can take it out of you. This is why it is important to be recharged and refueled with those who refuse to surrender their lives to Jesus Christ.
In verses 13-21, after leaving the Pharisees, Jesus tells His disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees. The disciples, having a moment of second guessing themselves, think Jesus is referring to the feeding of the multitudes. Jesus sees that they are not spiritually aware of the words He is sharing, asking them if their hearts are hardened or closed that they can’t receive, or perceive, what He is saying.
This is for the spiritually mature. We can grow in spiritual matters. We can strengthen or weaken in spirit. We can open or close our hearts at any time. Do you want to have a spiritual mindset? Since you are committed to reading through the Bible and this commentary, most likely, you do. If we want to have a spiritual perception, together with the Holy Spirit, then we must do more than go to church, be inspired by music and preaching, do our part to give and serve, and try to persuade people to do what we do. We have to go beyond doing and feeling good things.
The way to truly open our hearts to God in the spirit is to die to self and be in pursuit of the Holy Spirit. It involves a genuine desire of faith that is desperate for God and His way of doing things, which is spiritual. So many settle for less, focused on the natural world instead of giving effort to pursue God in the spirit. Others settle for less by focusing on traditions and disciplines of the church instead of a new, fresh move of God. They are judgmental and critical, missing out on what Jesus is saying to His church today. We see both in Jesus’ lifetime. We see people who are caught up in their natural world, and we see the knowledgeable, but arrogant, people. Let’s decide to be humble Christ-followers that are in pursuit of the Holy Spirit to the point of denying ourselves. Let’s be hungry for a move of God and open to Him doing something differently than He’s done it in the past. Let’s love His Word and His ways, living a consecrated life out of a love for His Presence. This is the life for which we were made!
The history of Balaam is recorded in these three chapters. Even though Balaam prophesied blessings on Israel, from other Scripture we see he is considered an evil man who encouraged the Israelites to become involved with sexual immorality and participate in idol worship.
Israel was nearing the end of their wandering in the wilderness. The Jewish nation was in the plains of Moab, east of the Jordan River. Moses would soon die, and Israel would cross the Jordan River into Canaan.
Who is Balaam? He’s a Gentile from Mesopotamia, a prophet. He does pray to Jehovah, and God speaks to Balaam.
Balaam is a man who worked for hire to pronounce a supernatural curse on Israel. He was hired by King Balak of Moab. Balak had heard what Israel had done to the Amorites, and wanted spiritual help to defeat Israel.
Here is what the New Testament has to say about Balaam:
· 2 Peter 2:15 “They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;”
· Jude 1:11 “Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.”
· Revelation 2:14 “But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.”
Are there prophets today who are motivated by the money they can manipulate out of people? Absolutely. They are in ministry for gain, and they know how to tap into the spirit realm to “work people over.” They know how to pull on people’s faith, their emotions, and their desire for the supernatural. They may love the Lord, but their motives are impure, as was Balaam’s.
In Numbers 22:12, Balaam hears the voice of God, instructing him not to curse the Hebrew people. God says the Israelite nation is blessed. He goes to Balak and tells him that the Lord would not permit it. Balak increases the wages (See 2 Kings 5 to read about Elisha and his servant Gehazi and the results of accepting wages for prophecy).
Balaam tests the Lord. God already told Balaam His word. Balaam says he will go to God again, so God listens to Balaam, allowing him to go against His first instructions. He went, and God was furious. The Angel of the Lord attempts to stop Balaam from moving onward.
The donkey saw the Angel and Balaam did not. Animals can see in the spirit.
God caused the donkey to speak. God can do anything.
Balaam answered the donkey. Balaam was accustomed to supernatural happenings.
In chapter 23, we see the worship and blood sacrifice welcomed the presence of God.
In the first prophecy, Balaam blesses Israel.
In the second prophecy, Balaam blesses Israel.
In the third prophecy, Balaam blesses Israel again.
In the fourth prophecy, Balaam tells of the future of Israel defeating her enemies.
It is best not only to obey what God wants us to do, but to line up with His values as well.