Balak’s an Idiot (and so am I)

Then Balak’s anger burned against Balaam. He struck his hands together and said to him, “I summoned you to curse my enemies, but you have blessed themthese three times.”
Numbers 24:10 (NIV)

Yesterday morning, after writing my post and finishing my quiet time, I settled in at the breakfast table. Wendy was just finishing reading our previous chapter as she waited for me.

Balak is an idiot,” she said with a chuckle and shake of her head.

I laughed, and agreed with her. The narrative clearly portrays the Moabite king as not being the sharpest tool in the shed. Balaam the seer clearly spoke the terms up front to Balak. He would say only what the Lord told him to say, no matter how much treasure Balak offered Balaam to say what he wanted to hear.

Nevertheless, Balak makes Balaam view the Hebrew encampment from three different vantage points, expecting Balaam’s prophetic message to change with the view. When the prophecy doesn’t change to his favor, Balak tells Balaam that he’s not going to pay. Duh. Balaam reminds Balak that he knew that up front.

It is out of Alcoholics Anonymous that we got the popular notion that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. It appears Balak could have benefitted from the Twelve Steps.

In the quiet this morning, however, I’m reminded that I can often find my own reflection in the individuals I criticize. There are stretches of my own journey in which I was looped in endless cycles of brokenness. Truth be told, I have found that significant spiritual progress usually requires breaking systemic negative patterns of thought or behavior. The further you progress the deeper, more intimate, and less obvious those negative patterns are to the casual observer. Recovering Alcoholics will tell you that they once thought drinking was their problem. Journeying through the Twelve Steps you discover that your addiction is just the tip of the iceberg.

This morning as I laugh at King Balak’s idiocy, I have to humbly confess that I am also laughing at myself.

Have a good weekend, my friend.

One thought on “Balak’s an Idiot (and so am I)”

  1. 10-11 Balak lost his temper with Balaam. He shook his fist. He said to Balaam: “I got you in here to curse my enemies and what have you done? Blessed them! Blessed them three times! Get out of here!

    Yesterday at church a friend stopped me to ask what our method is for inviting new elders and deacons into leadership. I explained our process which includes congregational nomination, team review and approval with a variety of checks and balances in place. It reminded me of a past time when said checks and balances weren’t in place. Congregants worried that the pastor was hand-picking his team and an unhealthy process lead to unnecessary paranoia. The story of Balak and Balaam also reminds me of this. Leadership, be careful who you invite to the table for advice. Be prepared for their opinion, even if you don’t agree. Let your differences balance your team in order to provide healthy leadership to your organization. Choose carefully and bring outside the box thinkers on intentionally to keep you grounded. Finally, don’t kick the dissenter out just because you disagree. Your organization will smell that a mile a way and immediately start talking.

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