We are continuing our series called “The Men and Women of Hope”. Terry has been looking at a series of figures from the Old and New Testament who under very, very difficult circumstances, found and exercised their hope as God extended it to them. Today we’re looking at one of the weirdest prophets in the Old Testament, Balaam, who wanted to sell out his gift of prophecy for money and curse Israel. He wasn’t allowed to do that, by God, and instead what poured forth from his mouth was blessing.
There’s a chapter in the Old Testament, Deuteronomy chapter 28, that speaks of the blessings and curses. I want to read a few verses here to begin the thoughts that I want to bring to you today. Here’s what the scripture says.
“And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you heed the voice of the Lord, your God. Blessed shall you be in the city. Blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the fruit of your ground, the fruit of your beasts, the increase of your cattle, and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading trough. Blessed shall you be when you come in and blessed shall you be when you go out. The Lord shall cause your enemies, who rise up against you, to be defeated before your face. They shall come out against you one way and they will flee before you seven ways. The Lord shall command the blessing.”
“The Lord shall command the blessing upon you.” There comes a time when God commands blessing. “The Lord shall command the blessing upon you in your storehouse, in all that you undertake, he will bless you in the land, which the Lord your God gives you. And the Lord shall make you have a surplus of prosperity through the fruit of your body, of your livestock, and of your ground in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give you. The Lord shall open to you his good treasure of the Heavens to give the rain of your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hands.” I love this phrase, “and you shall lend to many nations and you shall not bow. And the Lord shall make you the head and not the tail. And you shall be above only, and you shall not be beneath. If you heed the commandments of the Lord, your God, which I command you this day and are watchful to do them.”
Now, these blessings are here for a reason. I would like to take you to a story in the Old Testament that I’ve been working on for the last several days. In the Book of Numbers, the Bible tells us the story of Balak, who was the king of Moab. Israel had come out of Egypt, they had crossed the Red Sea. They were preparing to attack and come against Jericho. The king of Moab, one of the great tribes in Canaan at that time, was King Balak. The Bible says he saw the children of Israel filling the valley with so many people and such an abundance of everything that they had that he was terrified. So, he spoke to the other kings of the Canaanites in the land, and he tried to stir people up against Israel. One of his main strategies was contacting a prophet of the Lord, whose name was Balaam. Here’s how Balak described Balaam: “When Balaam blesses something it’s blessed, when Balaam curses something it’s cursed.” In other words, God pretty much does what Balaam asks him to do.
Balak made an offer to Balaam and said, “I will make you a very wealthy man. I will bless you with everything that I have in my kingdom. I will honor you. I will give you a place of high regard in this entire area. What I want you to do is come to me here in Moa. We will stand over the children of Israel down in the valley from the mountains, and we will speak the curses of God on his people.” The Bible says Balaam refused Balak at first. He played hard to get, and said, ‘I can’t curse something that God is blessing. I’m not even going to try.” Balak kept pressuring him and upping the ante. He offered more money, more honor, and more praise. Balaam seemed to like the idea of the money and decided to try to please Balak.
He went to various mountains, three different times, and tried to curse Israel. But every time the blessing of God came out of his mouth. And there’s a strange story in Numbers, chapter 22 and 23, where the angel of the Lord got upset with Balaam. Balaam was riding a donkey with two of his men going up the mountain to curse Isreal, and an angel of the Lord met the donkey and Balaam on the way. Suddenly, the eyes of the donkey were opened. He saw the angel of the Lord with the sword but Balaam couldn’t see him. Three times Balaam tried to do something with his donkey. The donkey one time ran into a wall and crushed Balaam’s leg, and it was bad. And finally Balaam was going to slay his own donkey, and the Bible says, “God opened his eyes. And he saw the angel of the Lord and he fell on the ground and he said, ‘God, forgive me for my sin.’ And he said, ‘I won’t curse…’ And the angel of the Lord said, ‘Balaam, don’t curse Israel. Don’t do it.’ And so Balaam said, ‘All right.’ And he said to Balak, the king, ‘I can’t take your money. I can’t do it. God is going to bless the children of Israel.'”
And there’s something in that that I think is very important. When God commands a blessing, like He did when we spoken over on Israel as he led them out of the land of Egypt, or when He answered the prayers of Abraham and all other Israelite people back through history, the enemy wants to stop him.
I want to say this about the commanded blessing of God. When God commands something blessed, friends, it’s blessed. There’s no, if, ands, or buts. If God says He’s blessing, then He blesses. And with God’s blessings comes hope. The blessings of God give us hope. The hope God gives through his blessings is offered to us free of charge, if we will believe it and walk in faith.
In America, we’re suffering with tremendous curses of disease and financial difficulty. But, it’s time for us to look at God’s blessings, and like Balaam, start to bless our enterprise. Start to bless the thing God wants to do with us instead of complaining about it. When God commands blessing, there’s various things that go with that. He speaks of increase of promotion, open doors, breakthroughs, wholeness, strength, healing, abundance, victory, grace, favor, and influence. When God blesses us, he causes people to like us. That’s what happened when Balaam liked Israel and spoke the blessings of the Lord.
There are a couple of verses that speak to us of the favor of God in our lives and minds. I’d like to read those two verses to you out of the Amplified version of the Bible. The first one is in II Corinthians 9:8. Here’s what God’s word says, “And God is able to make all grace, every favor, and earthly blessing come to you in abundance so that you may always, and under all circumstances, and whatever the need be self-sufficient. Possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance.” Twice the word abundance appears in this verse. “For every good work and charitable donation.”
Another great verse is Ephesians 3:20. “Now to him, to God, who by the action of his power that is at work within us, is able to carry out his purpose and do super abundantly far over and above all that we dare ask or think, infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams.” You can’t get any more than super abundance from the hand of God. “To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever, Amen.”
I’d like to tell you a story. I was in Sweden back in 1990, we were in the business of bringing Bibles and smuggling gospel materials into the closed nations in communist Europe. When I was in Stockholm, I met the head of the Swedish Bible society. He told me he had been contacted by the Russian government and given permission to bring 12 million Bibles into a land that had been totally cut off from the word of God for 70 years. He asked me to help him. I remember I was invited to speak at a pastor’s conference in Dallas, Texas at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. I went in and spoke to 10-15 pastors of major churches. There was a pastor there by the name of Mike Bickle from Kansas City. Mike Bickle at the end of my talk said, “I want you to come and speak to our elders in our church in Kansas City and at our conference.” I agreed and about six weeks later to speak at the meetings in Kansas City. I met with the church elders before the conference, and later to a crowd of 6,000 to 7,000 people who packed the coliseum in downtown Kansas City.
The meeting I had with elder was in preparation for the big meeting at the conference. At the elders’ meeting, I spoke about Russia, the open door, what God was doing, etc. At the end of my talk, a prophet, named Bob Jones from the Kansas City fellowship, approached me. He looked at me and said, “Pastor, this is the man to whom we’re going to give a $1,000,000.” This guy, Bob Jones, had holes in his shoes and in his pant knees. His shirt didn’t come all the way down to his trousers, and he didn’t look like a prophet of God to me. But when he said they were going to give a $1,000,000 offering, he certainly caught my attention.
Mike immediately responded. “Is this the man to whom we’re going to give the money?” There’d been a prophecy in the church that they would give $1,000,000 to missions. Bob answered: “This is the man to whom we’re giving the money. I saw him in a vision this morning in my home.” Well, Pastor said, “Terry, come back to speak with us at a later date.” Six weeks later, I showed up at the coliseum in downtown Kansas City. God had commanded a blessing over me through a prophet, and I frankly didn’t believe it. I say that to my own disgrace, and to my own shame. I didn’t believe it. I didn’t believe there’d be $1,000,000 given in an offering to missions for Bibles in Russia.
After I spoke at the conference, the pastor Mike Bickle stood up to take the offering. And here’s what changed me, friends. As the ushers started bringing out 16 foot tables from the side and put the tables right across the front of that whole coliseum, the people started to stand to their feet. Many of them weeping started to come and put money on the table. Mike didn’t say that there had been a prophecy, there’d be $1,0000,000 in the offering. He didn’t say anything to prime the pump, nothing was said. What convinced me they believed the prophecy is that the ushers carried guns on their hips to protect what they believe would be a $1,000,000 offering. When I saw that evidence of their faith, I stood there and said, “God, forgive me. I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I didn’t believe this.” Over $1,100,000 came in during that offering. We were able to use that offering to send 5,000,000 Bibles to Russia and the Ukraine. God blessed our ministry.
Friends, I want to say to you that we are commanded to be blessed by God. His blessing is honest. Read it in Deuteronomy 28. When we’re done this session today, read this passage again and meditate on it. Let God sow it in your heart. And then put your hope in the Lord. Hope is the confident expectation of the goodness of God. God is going to bless his church. He’s going to lift us up, making us the head and not the tail.
Be blessed in Jesus’ name, amen.