Monday, May 16, 2011

Bribing God!

I thought I’d heard it all. How many ways can there be for a prosperity preacher to ask you to open your wallet and send him some cash anyway? So when I tuned to my local Christian station, I was not expecting to be surprised, or astounded, I was merely expecting to hear the same old and tired clichés being bandied about perhaps even by some new faces.

I was in for a treat however, because the words that I heard coming out of one of these men’s mouths were of such monumental ignorance that I decided to write an entire blog post about it. I will not mention the name, but if I did you would most likely recognize it, but as this man was wrapping up what was yet another fevered plea to ‘send in your best possible offering’ he said, ‘I know you’ve been wondering why your prayers aren’t getting answered, maybe it’s time to grease the wheels a little.’ I thought I’d misheard or that it was a slip of the tongue, but he continued down this avenue and said, ‘if you want your prayers to get to the top of God’s list, if you want Him to pay special attention, then all you have to do is grease the wheels.’

In essence this man was saying that we can bribe God into answering our prayers, not only that, but that if we gave enough, He would even move us to the top of the list.

There was a man in the Bible who thought he could bribe God as well, in fact this man was a prophet and try as he might, He just couldn’t get God to see things his way, he couldn’t get God to change His mind no matter how many altars he built and how many offerings he burned.

The man of which I speak started out honorably enough. When Balak the king of Moab sent princes to Balaam, diviner’s fee in hand, and asked that Balaam curse Israel, for whoever he blessed was blessed, and whoever he cursed was cursed, he asked the princes of Moab to sojourn overnight, that he may inquire of the Lord what he ought to do. Yes, some would say that Balaam should have already known that God would be against Balaam cursing His own people, but at least it was commendable that he inquired of the Lord.

And so, God came to Balaam, asked him who the men were, and after Balaam informed Him of who they were God gave very specific instructions, ‘You shall not go with them; you shall not curse the people, for they are blessed.’ –Numbers 22:12

This should have been the end of the story; this should have been the end of the chapter. God said ‘no, you shall not curse the people’, and it ought to have ended there. Balak however, was nothing if not persistent, so he sent more numerous and more honorable princes back to Balaam, with the selfsame request that God had already denied.

It is likely that these more honorable princes, brought a more substantial diviner’s fee, because at one point Balaam says, ‘though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more.’ – Numbers 22:18

Perhaps in a different post we will discuss the peculiarity of why God’s anger was aroused because Balaam went with the Moabites, even though God had told him to go if the men come to call him, but for this particular post it is enough to know that Balaam went with them.

Balaam kept asking for permission to curse Israel, God kept saying ‘no’, until Balaam came up with a plan. The diviner’s fee was substantial, and so he had to do something to make things go his employer’s way, he had to think of something that would make God change His mind.

Numbers 23:1-2, “Then Balaam said to Balak, ‘build seven altars for me here, and prepare for me here seven bulls and seven rams.’ And Balak did just as Balaam had spoken, and Balak and Balaam offered a bull and a ram on each altar.”

‘Well what’s wrong with bringing sacrifice before the Lord brother Mike?’

Nothing if it’s done out of a pure heart and a clean conscience. Balaam’s reasons for bringing these sacrifices before God however were anything but noble; his heart was anything but pure; and his intentions were anything but honorable. Balaam thought he could bribe God into changing His mind, Balaam thought that if he offered God some savory bits, some rams and some bulls, then God would receive his offering and see things his way.

Numbers 23:4, “And God met Balaam, and he said to Him, ‘I have prepared the seven altars, and I have offered on each altar a bull and a ram.’”

‘Look what I did, look what I did! It’s nice, isn’t it, the smell of charred ram is pleasing to Your nostrils is it not, I could’ve offered up one ram and one bull, but look Lord, I offered up seven of each, come on, this one time, see things my way.’

Bribery does not work with God, He is not impressed by how many rams we slaughter and how many bulls we offer up, in the eyes of God obedience is worth more than sacrifice, and if only Balaam had remained obedient to God, and not attempted to bribe Him into changing his mind, perhaps Balaam would have been remembered as something more than the guy who got rebuked by the donkey. Eventually Balaam got the message, he realized no matter how much he tried, or how many offerings he offered up, he could not bribe God into changing his mind, or answering His plea.

Numbers 24:1, “Now when Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel, he did not go as at other times, to seek to use sorcery, but he set his face toward the wilderness.”

Balaam finally got the message, he finally realized that just because he asked nice, or because he killed some rams, God would not change His mind regarding Israel, and so, he set his face toward the wilderness, leaving Balak and the Moabites to their fate.

Lord willing, tomorrow we will discuss what it is that does move the heart of God, because most assuredly it is not bribery.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

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