God has kept you from your reward?

A funny little verse pestered me recently, spoken by King Balak in Numbers 24:11. The context: King Balak panics about all those Israelites nearby, so he asks a prophet, Balaam, to curse them. He figures if Balaam curses them, he’ll have victory over them.

The only problem is that Balaam obeys  God (mostly…except when God used a donkey to rebuke him. Now that would’ve been interesting). He cannot rebuke Israel. So Balak gets irate and testy, then this happens:

“King Balak flew into a rage against Balaam. He angrily clapped his hands and shouted, ‘I called you to curse my enemies. Instead you have blessed them three times. Now get out of here! Go back home! I promised to reward you richly, but the Lord has kept you from your reward.”

And yet: God’s reward for Balaam was much better, more eternal, more substantial than any riches Balak could give. It’s an ironic statement, one I need to think about. This world will promise us fame, fortune, status. Isn’t that what Satan wanted to tempt Jesus with? He wanted to give him everything, yet Jesus understood that riches and stuff received from Satan would not prosper His soul. It was an empty pursuit.

The problem comes when we look at the treasures of Balak, work our way to receive them, thereby ditching God’s reward.

God doesn’t always call us to be successful. He calls us to be faithful. Success (at least in the world’s eyes) may or may not come, but the greater reward is our character and the things we do for the kingdom that reap eternal rewards. Consider these words by Oswald Chambers:

“Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading. It is a life of faith, not of intellect and reason, but a life of knowing who makes us “go.” The root of faith is the knowledge of a Person, and one of the biggest snares is the idea that God is sure to lead us to success.”

So let go of Balak’s promise of riches. Let’s let go of them. And instead focus on the Lord, the One who leads us toward better treasure.

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