What If God Says, “No”
Today’s Parsha is Balak. Named after the Moabite King who wanted to defeat Israel. Before launching a military campaign, he sought the help of a very successful diviner named Balaam.
Scripture Reference: Numbers 22:4-6, 12-14
Numbers 22:4-6 Moab said to the elders of Midian, “The multitude will lick up everything around us like the ox licks up the grass of the field.” Now Balak son of Zippor was king of Moab at that time. (5) He sent messengers to summon Balaam son of Beor, at Pethor near the River in his native land, saying to him, “Look now, a people has come out of Egypt. See now, they cover the surface of the earth and are settling beside me. (6) Come now, curse this people for me, because they are too strong for me! Perhaps I may be able to defeat them and drive them away from the country. I know that whoever you bless will be blessed and whoever you curse will be accursed!”
God sends an answer to Balak’s request:
Numbers 22:12-14 God said to Balaam, “Do not go with them! Do not curse them, for they are blessed!” (13) So Balaam got up in the morning and said to the officials of Balak, “Go back to your country, for Adonai has refused to let me go with you.” (14) So the Moabite officials got up, went back to Balak, and said, “Balaam refused to come with us.”
Have you ever gone to God to ask Him for something and felt like you deserved it and knew that there was really nothing to stop you from having it and God tells you that you cannot have it?
I remember being a young boy and if my mom ever told me, No that I couldn’t have a thing that I thought I deserved and had earned, then this meant that she didn’t understand what I was asking her for. In my opinion this would always signify that I needed to explain to her what I was asking for in more detail. I mean certainly she could not have meant, “No” as her final answer.
I have wondered what my marriage would be like if all I had to do was to tell my wife, “No” and she listen and obey. No questions asked. All I had to do was say it one time. Actually, I probably would miss out on more than I gain.
There is a passage in 2 Samuel where David enquires of God about whether he should face the Philistine army or not.
2 Samuel 5:19 Then David inquired of Adonai saying, “Should I go up against the Philistines? Will You give them over into my hand?” Adonai answered David, “Go up, for I will certainly give the Philistines over into your hand.”
As a side note, the Philistines were descendants of a very fierce group of people from islands in the Aegean Sea between Greece and Turkey. They were call the Sea People or Phoenicians. For several centuries these people had raided coastal empires and destroyed them. Joshua had to contend with them in the conquest of Canaan.
Although David was truly a man of God and had often enjoyed the luxury of God on his side often in battle, he still acknowledged the fact that he had to humbly and sincerely approach God on this matter. David was fully aware that it was a matter of life of death because the Philistines would attack no matter what God’s answer was. David knew that the power to win or lose was in the hands of the living God.
What if God had said, No. What if God had answered David, No at a time like this. David would have certainly and immediately been either killed or taken captive. Yet David still completely and sincerely trusted God to do what was right.
Can we truly, sincerely and completely trust God even in a situation like the one that David found himself in. Knowing that if God had answered, No then he would have been defeated.
In this passage, David is teaching us that we may go to God with great boldness and confidence in full assurance that He can do all things but we must also always remember to remain humble when talking to the Father.
Just because God is the Father and can do anything, that does not always mean that He is going say yes to our every request.
In our passage today we see Balak, a powerful king, petitioning God through a man named Balaam to grant him a request. I am sure that when Balak thought it through he did not see anything wrong with his approach to the situation.
The king was probably highly surprised to hear that his offer was refused. Balaam was a diviner for hire. Sort of like the old TV western “Have Gun, Will Travel” except this was have Oracle will travel. To the king, it seemed as though Balaam lived for an opportunity such as what the king was offering him right now.
When God told Balak, No. Balak must have thought to himself that surely God either did not understand the question or wasn’t sure of the power held by the mighty Balak. So he does what every self-centered man with power and authority does when he doesn‘t get his way.
He asks again.
This time using more of his weight than he did the first time to ensure that God completely understood who he was and what he was asking.
Numbers 22:15-17 Balak again sent other dignitaries, more numerous and honored than these previous ones. (16) They also came to Balaam and said to him, “Thus says Balak son of Zippor: Please let nothing keep you from coming to me! (17) I will richly reward you, and everything you tell me I will do! Just come now and curse this people for me!”
An interesting point that we should notice in this passage is that the king sought Balaam and not the other way around.
This is sort of like the President seeking the advice and counseling from a man like Billy Graham.
Although this could be a wise move on behalf of the President it is highly unlikely. It would surely cause an immediate rebellion from the “enlightened, progressive” people of the country if the source for his advice was ever revealed. The mainstream media would go wild if our current President appeared to be seeking divine direction.
Many of us are holding positions that God has us in right now that seem so insignificant to the big picture but I would like to take this moment to tell you that you should always stay ready because you never know when, where, why, for what, who or how God may need you.
What may seem like a small and insignificant position to you may be just the position that God needs you in to make a point, so hold on to God. God needs you.
Just as to be expected, the man of God responded with a direct answer from God again. This time he spoke in a language that he was sure that the king would understand.
Numbers 22:18 But Balaam answered Balak’s servants, “Even if Balak gave me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot cross beyond the mouth of Adonai my God, to do anything small or great!
God was not only telling the king, No, but he was also telling Balaam, No. He was refusing the opportunity of Balaam to receive a “get rich quick” present from the king.
In today’s time, it seems that all that we think that we have to do is go to the leaders of the church with our request (no matter what they are) and if our offering is good enough, we believe that the leaders should find a way to show that God justifies our actions and support our request.
We, as leaders, have to be careful that we are not attempting to compromise the word of God for a “get rich quick” present from someone other than God.
God may not just be refusing the person petitioning the request, but he may be taking the leader of the church through a trial to see if the leader deviates from His word for a “get rich quick” present from someone other than God.
I am sure that many disagree with me and believe that it is ok to receive any offering and pray to God the He grant any request we ask but let’s look at what Satan tried to offer Yeshua immediately following his fast.
Matthew 4:8-11 Again, the devil takes Him to a very high mountain and shows Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. (9) And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” (10) Then Yeshua says to him, “Go away, satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship Adonai your God, and Him only shall you serve.’” (11) Then the devil leaves Him. And behold, angels came and began to take care of Him.
Satan offered one of his favorite offerings. He offered Yeshua a “get rich quick” present in hopes that the Messiah would not think clearly and accept his illusion of a present and lose out on the true blessing from God.
I would like to take a moment and share a poem by Claudia Minden Weisz
I asked God to take away my pride. And God said “No”.
He said it was not for Him to take away, but for me to give up.
I asked God to make my handicapped child whole. And God said “No”.
He said her spirit was whole, her body was only temporary.
I asked God to grant me patience. And God said “No”.
He said patience is a by-product of tribulations. It isn’t granted, it is earned.
I asked God to give me happiness. And God said “No”.
He said He gives me blessings, happiness is up to me.
I asked God to spare me pain. And God said “No”.
He said suffering draws me apart from worldly cares and brings me closer to Him.
I asked God to make my spirit grow. And God said “No”.
He said I must grow on my own. But He will prune me to make me fruitful.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life. And God said “No”.
He said He will give me life, that I may enjoy all things.
I ask God to help me love others, as much as he loves me.
And God said “Ah, finally you have the idea!”
I am sure that since we serve such a powerful and altogether wonderful God that it may seem as though our every request should be granted. However, I am here to tell you that there is a possibility that God can say, No. As many of you have figured out, I don’t preach a prosperity gospel here at Tree of Life. We don’t have a “McDonalds You Deserve a Break Today” doctrine. We must always remember that Hashem will always have our best interest in mind and that He will never lose or fail so we should be assured that this too will pass. Just because He said, No doesn’t signify that we are out of His will. He will have something better for us if we just have patience and listen.