The Story of Balak and Balaam

In this week’s Parsha of the story of Balak and Balaam in Numbers 22-25, there are some key elements that we can learn and pull aside to ponder upon. Let me start off giving you an overview of the story. It starts off with the king of Moab, Balak, sending messengers to Balaam asking him to come and curse the people that have come out of Egypt. Balak knows these people are stronger than him and knows that whatever Balaam blesses and curses indeed comes to pass (Num. 22:6). The king of Moab offered Balaam a great reward if he would only curse the people who came out of Egypt. God came upon Balaam and told him not to go and curse the people, for they were already blessed by God. The messengers came to Balaam offering a bigger reward from the king this time, summoning for him to come with them once again. God came upon Balaam again, this time telling him to go, but only to say what He tells him to say (Num. 22:20). Balaam got up to travel back with the messengers but was too hasty (Num. 22:32). His heart was not in the right place; he cared more about receiving the reward from the king rather than obeying God and the effect of the curse he was about to place upon the people. God’s anger aroused (Num. 22:22) and He placed and angel in the road to block Balaam and his donkey’s passage. The donkey saw the angel of the Lord, causing him to go off of the road. Balaam got frustrated, therefore hitting his donkey three times before the donkey began to speak (Num. 22:28)! The Lord allowed the donkey to see the presence of the Lord and blinded Balaam from it. Balaam goes on talking to the donkey saying how he wished he had a sword to kill him. I find it humorous that Balaam is planning to curse this nation with his words, but he wishes he had a sword to kill the donkey. After three blockage attempts from the angel, God opened up Balaam’s eyes to see the angel of the Lord. He immediately fell on his face (Num. 22:32). The angel of God repeats to Balaam to go enter into this land with the king of Moab, but only speak the words that God has put into His mouth. I would hope that Balaam has a change of heart and seeks to continue this journey with obedience.

Balaam continues in Moab with Balak, speaking to the princes of Moab (Num. 23:6) and Israel (Num. 24:2) attempting to curse them but the Lord intervened causing Balaam to bless the nation, only speaking what Adonai placed inside of him. Can you imagine what it would be like to be speaking, and the words that come out of your mouth aren’t really your own words? Especially if it was in front of multitudes of people? Yikes! There were three different times that Balaam blessed the Israelites, thus creating a fury within Balak (Num. 24:10). This isn’t where the story ends, but for now this is just about where the Parsha ends.

I want to rewind a little to the incident where the angel of the Lord blocked Balaam’s path. In this incident, it was God blocking the path, not the enemy. When Balaam went to utter a curse over the people, the Lord intervened once again, blocking Balaam’s evil intentions. I believe one of the themes that we can pull from this story is that God can use anything to get His message across. In this story he used a talking donkey and an evil man. Another theme that we can attain from this story is what will we do when we are faced with those “blockages” that suddenly appear on our path? Will we get frustrated and irritated as Balaam did, acting out of anger in the situation? Or will we try to analyze the problem, perceiving it differently, praying and asking God for direction? It is so easy to take things into our own hands, handling situations and people the wrong way. It’s easy to get caught into the trap of our own fleshly emotions, becoming numb and blind (because that’s where the enemy likes you to be) to what’s really in front of you (an angel of God, perhaps?) trying to gently direct and guide you to where you need to go.

Break the strongholds in your life that are holding you back from your fullest potential. Speak the name of God out loud, the name that the wind and waves obey. Don’t be stubborn and stiff-necked, creating an atmosphere where a talking donkey has to intervene to get your attention! Leave your fear at the door, walk through in confidence, speaking the name of God everywhere you go, blessing His people, blessing His nation. This song that I have attached below has been on my heart these last couple of days. Take a moment to listen; close your eyes and apply the lyrics to your life. Picture yourself standing at the edge of the ocean waters proclaiming His name, receiving His blessing, and leaving all of YOU into the deepest of waters.

 

Speak the Name

Serenity Through the Struggle

unnamed-2

 

I saw a vision of a man trying to put his fence up by himself, clearly struggling. There were people walking by on the sidewalk who saw his struggle and kept on walking. Then there was one man who didn’t ask if he needed help, but just jumped right in to help him finish lifting the fence into the ground. This man saw a need and filled it. He didn’t have to think twice, he didn’t continue on his stroll. This man saw another man struggling and did his best to lend a helping hand. How often do we struggle, whether physically or spiritually, and would just like to have someone’s help? Nobody wants to struggle on their own. Sometimes we need that one helping hand to help us get through whatever it is that we’re going through. That helping hand might be a mentor, counselor, mom or dad, loyal best friend, or even a stranger. There have been stories I’ve heard where complete strangers have made someone’s day. One story was about a man opening a door for a teenage girl out of courtesy, which, in turn, saved her life.

We are human, so when we go through difficult things, we look to people to “lend a helping hand”. Most of us do, at least. There are those who keep it all to themselves, and nobody ever knows what they’re going through. What do you do in the midst of a struggle? Do you try to take it into your own hands like, “I can fix this, I don’t need help”, or “I created this problem, I can get myself out”, or perhaps rather, you seek help. “I can’t do this by myself, please help me”, or “Here’s what I’m going through, can you keep me accountable in these areas?”. I challenge you all to challenge yourself, and really reflect on how you should react when you are facing hard times.

 

In Romans 5:3-5 it says, “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

 

We have all read or heard of this verse at one time or another, right? This verse is one of my favorites! It’s so amazing to think that if we rejoice through the pain and suffering, we are promised that the fruit of that humility is endurance, character, and hope! It sure does take a lot of humility to rejoice through a trial. How do we even do that? If someone is witnessing a loved one dying, how do you have joy through that? How can God expect us to rejoice?? These are common questions that perhaps just don’t make sense. But I can tell you, that if you can bring yourself to a place of putting your hands in the air and letting God help you through, praising God that no matter what happens, He is greater, and His plan is better, then you will be so blessed, and you will be amazed at what God can and will do. It’s so easy to blame God in the midst of a struggle. More often than not, we are looking for someoneto blame. Our faith can really become tested when we walk through the hard times. God will grant you the ability to endure through, you will grow tremendously as a person, and you will receive hope if you only remain steadfast and rejoice and trust through the tough situations, whether they are big or small. They all matter in His eyes. Just remember that you are never forgotten or forsaken. You are always remembered and found. Some people don’t believe this, but I believe that there is a purpose for everything, and that in the end it is very rewarding, if we stay true to Romans 5:3-5.

Salt and Light

Matthew 5:13-14 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt should lose its flavor, how shall it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” 

I understand how we are called to be the light of the world, but how and what does it mean to be the salt of the earth? Salt is used as a seasoning agent to savor unsavory foods. Let’s look deeper at what this means for us to “season the earth”.

Salt is a necessity of life; we simply cannot survive without some amount of sodium. In the Bible, salt was used as a seasoning, a preservative, a component to offerings, a disinfectant, a form of judgement and death, and was also used to heal diseased water (2 Kings 2:21). Salt was considered valuable in the ancient times and was used as a form of payment. So we can see here that salt was a very valuable compound/mineral, all around. When I hear what Yeshua stated in Matthew, ” You are the salt of the earth…” I think of His disciples, because that’s who He was talking to. His disciples traveled around the world, teaching the Gospel of Yeshua the Messiah to everyone they knew, spreading the love of God, just as they were created and anointed and blessed to do. They seasoned the earth with God’s Word, power, protection, truth, and love, all the while shining the light that lived within them and shining it bright for all to see. They had the love of God living inside of them, and they were girded with His truth. In Matthew 28:19-20 Yeshua told His disciples to, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” We are also called to be a light and to “season the earth” with His gospels, His truth, love, and life! As I mentioned before, salt is a necessity of life. Without it, we may become diseased. Spiritually speaking, if one doesn’t have the “salt of life” as I call it, they will be spiritually dead! God gives us so many elements to choose from to share with others. Just like you can season meat with many different spices and herbs, you can also “season” God’s people with His love and light! 

Sometimes we don’t realize, but the people of this world starve for love. The only true definition of love can be Yeshua; He is love. In order for them to receive the love that they yearn for, it becomes our job, as disciples, to share the “salt of God”, to bring savory into their lives instead of bitterness. Salt cannot be eaten by itself, it has to be used in just the right amounts in order to bring the perfect flavor. Sometimes as Christians and Torah followers, we unintentionally push someone into following God, or keeping this law, forsaking this tradition, etc. We put “too much salt” into their heart, which then becomes distasteful to the person, causing them to become uninterested. Do you follow me? In Luke 5:32 Yeshua says, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Yeshua always embraced the person before He rejected the sin. Yeshua never rejected anyone; we are the ones who reject Him. Let us follow His example, and embrace those sinners and their faults (for we are all sinners!), so as to spread the truth of His Word.

I have found some interesting facts in regards to the Dead Sea. First of all, we all know that the body of water is consumed with massive amounts of salt. The amount of salt is what caused it to be a “dead sea”. The salt kills off anything living. There is no form of life within the water. However, in 2011 some researches found freshwater springs in the deep parts of the sea, indicating that there was life within the sea at some point. And the Bible states in the beginning of Ezekiel 47 that the Dead Sea will become fresh water again. So in this example, salt is representing death. Salt also represents death in Gen. 19:26. An angel had an agreement with Lot not to destroy the cities until they fled. They were commanded not to look back. Lot’s wife broke this agreement and became a pillar of salt. Her judgement was death. Another instance is in Judges 9:45 when Abimelech destroyed the city of Shechem and poured salt over it. This is also a representation of death and destruction. Stay with me to continue the journey of what it means to be the salt of the earth.

Salt is also associated with the sacrificial system. Romans 12:1-2 states that we are to present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing unto God. In addition, Lev. 2:13 commanded the priests to add salt with their offerings. Could these two verses possibly be connected? If we are presenting ourselves as a sacrifice, are we not also commanded to add salt to our sacrifice? In 2 Kings 2:20-21 salt was used to cleanse and purify the water within the city. This is directly the opposite of what we talked about earlier. In this example, salt was used to bring forth life. How does salt cleanse water; wouldn’t it merely make it into salty water? The people had to come into an agreement (covenant) of trust. They had to be willing to go against what they thought they should do, and trust in what God told them to do. After all the salt was added, the water “became wholesome”. Salt was very valuable to the people, so it took a lot of faith and trust to give up so much of it. It was a very important element for their survival, therefore causing it to be a big sacrifice. They had to come into agreement, trusting that God knew what He was doing.

Back then, giving someone your salt was a sign of trust. You didn’t just give it away freely, unless you trusted that person. In addition, covenants were sealed with salt. So here we can make a conclusion that salt can represent many things, but it can ultimately come down to this: a sacrificial decision of our own beliefs and thinking, surrendering to His will and way, leading His people in truth and love, so as not to experience the judgement of death. God’s truth is very valuable (as was salt)Salt and Light, and He trusts us to share that value with His people. The covenant is an agreement to follow what He tells us to do. It’s keeping our part of the agreement. It’s when we believe that He can make the dead come to life. If we fail to follow through with this covenant of salt, judgement will be upon us.

Yeshua was persecuted, beaten, and falsely accused for speaking the truth. If one lives for Yeshua, and becomes the salt of the earth, he must expect to go through some of the things Yeshua went through. Being the “salt of the earth” comes with a price, and we need to come to a conclusion of deciding if it’s worth it. Living a life for Yeshua is not easy, and He explained that to His disciples in Luke 14:25-35. Then Mark 9:49-50 states that everyone will be salted with fire. Will we trust God enough to live His way even through the fire? I believe that those who are the salt of the earth will automatically shine their light and be ready for what God has in store. If we lose our salt, however, we will become “trampled upon by men”. Do we want this? We have to strive to spread the flavor of God, trusting what He says, and being a light by sharing the salt of His truth and preserving His people.

 

Here is a beautiful song by Lauren Daigle. Be blessed!

Salt and Light

Spiritual Leavening Agents

 

Blog pic

 

Galations 5:9, “A little yeast leavens the whole lump of dough.” During this week of unleavened bread (Ex. 12:15) we are to rid our homes of leavening agents, and not eat anything that contains leaven. Most of us know that leaven is a representation of sin. Fasting from leaven for a whole week can put things into perspective for us, if we truly desire to be more holy, more like Him. If leaven is a representation of sin, then we should seek out how we can remove any type of sin from our lives! I like to call these types of sin “spiritual leavening agents”. In reality, one only needs a very small amount of yeast (leaven) to make a loaf of bread. Without the yeast, it will be flat. The yeast or leavening agent is what makes it rise and become puffed up. This is applied the same way spiritually. If we only have a little bit of sin in our life, it will eventually take over and destroy us. The little bit of sin will form a root deep inside, and plant more seeds of sin, which will ferment and spread throughout our entire body. Sometimes we don’t even know that it’s there until years and years later (or maybe never). This is why this time of introspection is very important. We do not want to become consumed with our sin. We do not want any hidden sin! So let’s break down what these “leavening agents” are, and how we can get rid of them.

Proverbs 6:16-19, “These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speakers lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” We see here that the first abominable sin unto God is pride. My friends, we possess more pride than we think. Sometimes when I think about it, it’s scary. Even the smallest form of pride can stem off into another form of sin, into another, which results back to pride, most of the time unknowingly! If anyone is seeking to remove sin from their life, I would suggest starting with the “main leavening agents” in the above verse! We are imperfect beings, but created to strive for perfection. Paul exclaims several sins that we fall short of every day: “Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatters, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I tell you about these things in advance — as I told you before — that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” Galatians 5: 19-21 We also know that the breaking of His commandments conclude in sin.

We will never be perfect, but we can strive for perfection, because Yeshua is perfect, and we are supposed to be more like Him. Striving for purity and obtaining a pure heart and mind is such a beautiful thing. It gives us a glimpse of how everything was supposed to be from the beginning of time, before sin was established. It reminds us how beautiful God is because He is the purest of them all. He surpasses our understanding, and loves us enough to give us His statues and commandments to help guide us to the path of purity. God delights in us when we make an effort to be more like Him; not just doing the simple easy things like reading His Word and praying, etc. But rather, truly seeking to go deeper and pull up the sinful roots in our life so that we can be more like Him. Isaiah 59:2 declares, “But your iniquities have built barriers between you and your God, and your sins have made Him hide His face from you so that He does not listen.” This verse is saying that our sin builds up walls between us and God, so that He does not hear our prayers! If we continue to let sin build up in our life, knowingly or unknowingly, our relationship with God will become so hidden under all the “leaven” in our life, that all we can see present is ourself and the walls that we’ve built. Do we want this? Of course not.

When we remove leaven from a loaf of bread, we have flat bread. When we remove leaven from our lives, we have less of us and more of Him. The sin “puffs” us up into something we weren’t created to be. When we remove that sin, it humbles us, and puts us into a place of remembrance of Who we’re living for, and Whom we are serving, and Who is greater. We should fall on our face (automatically removing the pride, because we are demonstrating Who is higher), and seek the humility to rid ourselves of all the “leavening agents”, knock down the walls that we built over time, and free ourselves of the bondage that we put ourselves in! We are unfortunately sinful creatures, and disappoint God every day. However, He is faithful and true to His Word, and gives mercy and compassion every day. He created an outlet for us to be forgiven, and continues to give us chance after chance. “Therefore, submit to God. But resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, double-minded people!” James 4:7-8 The above verse is a promise! Perhaps you’ve been praying for God to draw near so that you can hear Him, or know what is next. Maybe you’ve been disappointed because it’s been so long since you’ve heard or felt Him near. But God says for you to draw near to Him and then He will draw near to you. He makes us work in order to obtain the full blessing. If you want to be close to God, as well as pure and holy, then rid yourself of sin, no matter how long it takes. This brings humility, and will draw you near to God. He will then take you under the protection of His wing, and guide you to the path of purity.

 

A Microscopic View of Trust

Trust - blog pic

 

A common Scripture that most of us know and have memorized is: Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.” Most of us also know what trust is; but do we know the depth or the microscopic view of what it actually looks like? Follow along with me for a minute or two to zoom in on the beautiful pictures and meanings that this word paints for us to better understand what trust means and looks like.

The Hebrew word for trust is batach (pronunciation: butack), made up of three Hebrew letters: Beit, Tet, and Chet, בָּטַח . Here, we are going to break down the definitions, gematria (numerical values), representations, and meanings of each letter. The first letter, Beit, is a representation and picture of a house, and has a value of two. The Tet has a pictograph of a snake coiled up inside of a basket, and it has a numerical value of 9. Tet can have a representation of two possibilities of man – good or evil. You can reflect upon your life and decide if you are allowing the enemy to control your inner being (thus reflecting the pictograph of Tet), or bowing down to Your Creator in submission (other pictograph of Tet). Last, the letter Chet has a pictograph of a wall or fence and has a gematria of eight. Chet is also the letter that represents life. Now, when we put each of these pictographs and representations together we get this: the house (us, the temple) of good or bad character, bowing in submission to the Creator, creating a fence of protection, which brings forth a new perspective of life. When we are in complete submission (a character of trust), God grants us the privilege of new beginnings (the meaning of the number 8), and helps us understand more clearly how to place our trust in Him.

Now, each of these letters that make up the word, batach, contains either a letter Vav (וֹ) or Zayin (זֵ) within each letter. For example, the first letter Beit (בָּ) has an integrated Vav within itself. In addition, the letter Tet (טַ) has an integrated Zayin, and so on. These two letters, Vav and Zayin, are what make up the entire word batach, so to speak. A Zayin is a representation of the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians. 6:17). It also can have the image of a crowned Vav, which represents Yeshua (Jesus). It has a gematria of seven, which is the number of perfection. In addition, the Hebrew letter Vav, has a pictograph of a nail or peg. It represents the nail that Yeshua our Savior and crowned King took for us on the cross. This letter has a gematria of six, which is the number of man. Stay with me! Adding to the depth of this, the very definition of perfection, Yeshua, who took the nail (sacrifice) for mankind, is the very same One that holds our trust. If there was no Vav (nail) or Zayin (crowned One, God’s Word) to hold up the other letters that make up the word “trust”, there would be no trust! In other words, Vav and Zayin are the structure of that word. This paints a picture in my mind of someone nailing a decree of some sort onto a wall for everyone to see. The Word of God and the sacrifice of His Son has to be stamped into our hearts and be the very set foundation for us to put our trust in Him. How can we trust if we first do not have a firm foundation in the very One from whom we came from? Just as those two letters are the structure for which all the other letters rely upon within the word trust, so also should the same structure be for us in our individual walk with God to fully put our trust in Him. When we can have this understanding, I believe we can fully trust Him with all of our heart, not leaning on what we think trusting God looks like, but rather, understanding and believing what has already been established and placed inside of our hearts. If we can acknowledge that, then His Word will stay true; He will direct our path.

 

2 Kings 18:5, “He trusted in the Lord God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah; nor who were before him.”

Psalm 4:5, “Offer sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord.”

Psalm 9:10, “And those who know Your name will put their trust in You: for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.”