Today: Psalms 38:1-12; Luke 7:11-35; Numbers 23:27-30; Numbers 24 & 25; Numbers 26:1-11

Luke 7

Jesus’ miracles kept getting more and more astonishing. In Luke 7, He raised a young man from the dead! It seemed there was nothing He couldn’t do!

Yet there were obviously things Jesus DIDN’T do. He didn’t raise everybody from the dead. He appears to have healed everyone who came to him, but still many people in the area remained sick.

And the one humongous glaring thing Jesus didn’t do was to help John the Baptist who was languishing in prison.

Perhaps John was questioning if he had been wrong about Jesus. Maybe he hadn’t counted on sitting along in prison like that. He had a lot of time on his hands to ponder… was he beginning to doubt? Why didn’t Jesus help him?

So he sent some of his disciples to Jesus to ask, “Are You the Coming One or are we to look for another?”

Jesus told John’s disciples to go tell him what they had seen and heard. “People who were blind receive sight, people who limped walk, people with leprosy are cleansed and people who were deaf hear, dead people are raised up, and people who are poor have the gospel preached to them.” (v.22)

Those were all amazing things, abundant proof that Jesus was indeed the “Coming One.” But then Jesus finishes up His response by saying, “And blessed is anyone who does not take offense at Me.” (v.23) Is Jesus implying that John was feeling “offense” that Jesus had not helped him?

It is human nature when life gets tough, to blame God, to take offense. I mean, all God has to do is wave His hand and all these troubles could just disappear, right? Sometimes God does just that. Other time He doesn’t, and we sit languishing in our prisons of suffering. But “blessed is anyone who does not take offense.”

I don’t know the answers to why God sometimes works miracles and sometimes He doesn’t. All of life is miraculous, in my opinion. Jesus coming here was the biggest miracle of them all.

"Balaam" art by Cody F. Miller

Numbers 24 & 25

Balaam is a curious character. His visions in Numbers 24 seem to come from God. He correctly prophesied Israel’s coming victories and actually alluded to the coming of Jesus: “A star shall appear from Jacob…” (v.17)

Balaam seems like a good guy to me. He repeatedly said that he would only speak what the LORD tells him to say. Yet in the New Testament Balaam is called wicked (2 Pet. 2:15, Rev. 2:14). There must be more to this story…

Numbers 24:1 says, “when Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to bless Israel he did not go AS AT OTHER TIMES TO SEEK OMENS…” Sounds like Balaam was involved in some shady stuff?

Later in Numbers 25, God told Moses that the Midianites had tricked and deceived the Israelites into hooking up with their women and becoming followers of Baal. In Revelations 2:14 we read that Balaam “taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality.” AH! So there’s the rest of the story! I don’t know how he did it, but Balaam somehow bamboozled the Israelites into doing some very bad things. The Israelites were accountable for their own sins and paid dearly for them; they were struck by a plague that killed over 24,000 of them. But evidently Balaam is the con man who got the party started.

Evil doesn’t always walk in the front door and announce himself. He’s usually skulking around in the backyard looking for unlocked doors. Satan is a trickster and a liar and he’ll snare us any way he can. We are all capable of making mistakes and being deceived. We don’t need to be scared of being tricked; Jesus repeatedly encourages us not to be afraid. But if we understand our enemy’s ways and our own fallibility, we can be more prepared. God is the light that reveals truth and illuminates our path. Resting in His protection and His perfect plan for us doesn’t mean we won’t make mistakes. We will. But God’s mercy and grace are stronger than the devil and bigger than our failings. Thank You, God!