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16th May: Guidance (5) -- Not thy Will but Mine

God's anger was kindled because he went. Numbers 22:22

A comment was heard recently, 'It's extraordinary how often God seems to have changed his mind in guiding Mr & Mrs X!'. Does God change his mind? or is it we who try to change it for him? Balaam asked God a straight question, should he go with the messengers of Balak? He was given an equally straight answer, 'You shall not go with them'. Balaam's immediate reaction was decisive and right, 'The Lord has refused to let me go with you. I could not go beyond the command of the Lord my God to do less or more'.

But gradually his resistance was worn down. To comply with Balak's request would bring great financial gain. Already he was being sought after by 'high-ups' who could influence his future career, and even the kind promised to grant his every request. In a position like that, what an influence he could exert for good and for God! And after all perhaps he had a responsibility to his family! It might be worth asking God again. Did he really mean what he said? Did these new considerations make a difference? And God did apparently change his mind, 'Go with them' he said, and delightedly Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his ass and went with the eminent emissaries.

The result?

1. God's anger was kindled because he went.

2. God, who had been his master and guide, became his adversary, standing in his way.

3. God drove him into an impossible situation, no way forward and none to right or left. 'I have come to withstand you, because your way is perverse before me'.

4. And then, as commonly happens, Balaam began to 'take it out' on an innocent victim of his frustration.

5. Of course he was remorseful of what he had done, and was anxious to go back, but he could not retrace his steps.

6. He had to learn the hard way. It was costly and time-consuming, and he lost all the hoped-for advancement.

There are some clear commands in God's word. If he says, 'Don't do it'. we are foolish to expect him to contradict himself or make an exception of us. If he has made his will clear in a matter not explicitly dealt with in his word, we cannot expect further or different guidance. If we do, we may have to be content with God's second best, or find, like the Israelites, that 'he gave them their request but sent leanness into their soul' (Ps 106:15 AV).

C S Lewis comments that in the end there are only two kinds of people: 'There are those who say to God "Thy will be done", and those to whom God says "thy will be done".'

Further reading: Nu 22-24.

MC

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