Does anyone remember Balaam? In Numbers 22 we read that Balak, the king of Moab, called for him to place a curse upon Israel. Israel was camped out on the plains of Moab and Balak had already heard what Israel did to the Amorites. He knew he was next.
Balaam was a prophet, but not an Israelite prophet. He was actually described by God as a diviner in Joshua 13:22. Anyway, he could not curse Israel because God would not allow him to do so, but he finally figured a way to help out old Balak and get paid for it. He told Balak to entice the Israelite men with the Moabite women. Because of this, false gods were introduced among the Israelites.
I suppose to Balaam’s surprise, God did not destroy Israel, but He did discipline them. In the end Israel was disciplined, the Moabites were destroyed and Balaam met his demise at the end of an Israeli sword. Perhaps Balak did too. I don’t know.
Throughout the Old Testament we read of God warning Israel of false gods, and they are just as plentiful today as they were then. False gods are anything worshipped by man instead of the one true God in Heaven. The material gods of that day were basically made of gold, silver, wood, etc. Ours today are the same, but not normally made of the same materials. Our major gods in this country are probably money, sex and power.
When they were in Egypt, the Egyptian gods were everywhere. Now they are in the land of Canaan and all the gods of that area are there to entice them. One in particular brought Israel much sorrow and judgment from God.
“While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods. The people ate the sacrificial meal and bowed down before these gods. So Israel yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor. And the LORD’s anger burned against them.” (Numbers 25:1-3)
Vulgar, sexual acts were performed in worshipping Baal. (I cannot even hint at them here.) Even worse, they would sacrifice their children upon the red-hot altar of this false god.
The obedience to the Law that God required of Israel was to show them that they were sinners, they needed a Savior, and the Savior would be provided (the Messiah). Also, it was to keep them from false gods.
There were many, many hard and fast rules that God required of Israel. Read the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch, and you will see what I am saying. Why so many rules? God kept Israel not only spiritually healthy, but He also kept them physically healthy. People in other nations had many health problems. There were many diseases and many were consumed with STDs because of their loose morals and sexual practices in idol worship.
For example, all down through the Roman era and through the Dark Ages loose living shortened many lives, but God watched over His people Israel. It was often thought that plagues were brought upon the people because of a curse from the Jews. Why is that? The Jews basically were healthy, while others were dying. The truth however is that God’s many laws kept Israel healthy. If Israel had also followed God laws concerning false gods more stringently, they would have been better off spiritually.
God has a message for us today, and it is the same message He had for Israel in the days of Moses. That message is, “Look at Me.” Now that’s an odd message, but those three words say a lot. They are saying that if we keep our eyes upon God we will suffer far fewer consequences from a sin-polluted world than we would otherwise.
When man takes his eyes off God everything around him falls apart. We in the 21st century are overrun with crime, immorality, STDs, greed, and on and on. Why? We have taken our eyes off God.
Did not Jesus say, “Follow Me?” In Matthew’s gospel alone Jesus said six times, “Follow Me.” Allow me to state very plainly, if we follow Him, we don’t do stupid things, but when we take our eyes off Him, what happens? We do stupid things. What happened to Israel when they stopped looking toward God? They did stupid things.
Most all of our problems are brought upon us by our own actions. Granted, many are not. I’ll give an example. If an individual is walking through the woods and gets bitten by a rattlesnake, it certainly isn’t his fault. However, if he handles a rattlesnake to prove how spiritual he is and gets bitten it is his own fault. That is doing a stupid thing.
Folks, it doesn’t matter how old we are, when it comes to mankind and God we are like little children, we need to keep our eyes upon one who is much smarter than we are. Just as young children need to listen to their parents, we all need to listen to God. Parents make mistakes, but God does not. Parents are not perfect. God is.
God is saying to mankind today, just as He did to Israel many years ago, “Look at Me.” He wants us to follow His lead. If we will do that, we can avoid a lot of sorrow. Life has enough problems without our adding to them. But what about those times we suffer through no fault of our own? Suffering is never easy, but it is much easier to endure when our eyes are upon Jesus. Frankly, I can’t imagine traversing through this life without Jesus Christ.
Let’s say that you are a cliff climbing student. You’re half way up the cliff and then you freeze in stone-cold fear. You look down and want to scream, but not a sound will come out. Your instructor sees your predicament and comes to you and says, “Look at me. Don’t take your eyes off me. I’ll get you through this.” As long as you kept looking at the instructor, the fear subsided because of your confidence in him/her. Finally, you’re safe on the ground again, and planning a new hobby.
As a Christian, have you noticed that when you start glancing away from the Lord, the peace and security you once had starts slipping away? It worsens when our time spent with Him becomes shorter. Excuses were made to skip devotion time with Him. Before you know it, you no longer spend much time reading your Bible, praying or just thinking of Him and His greatness. The television is on much longer than it used to be. The world’s influences are creeping into your thoughts. Doubts and fear start to set in. All this because we stopped looking at Him.
Are we still His child? Of course we are, and as His child, He gently touches our chin, turns our head, and says “Look at Me.” A Christian can never be truly happy when not beholding the Lord our God.
Pre-Rapture Commentary: http://grant-phillips.blogspot.com
Rapture Ready: http://www.raptureready.com/featured/phillips/phillips.html