Opening Questions and Prayer:
When was a time you had to make a tough decision to do the right thing even when no one else was?
How did you overcome the fear and make the wise choice?
Why is it easy for people to turn from the path of righteousness and follow their own way?
What helps you stay on the path God has laid out for you?
Thank God for sending us Jesus to show us the way to live. Ask Him to teach you as you study His Word today.
Read Numbers 22:1-3
Numbers 22:1-3 (All Scripture is from the NLT unless otherwise noted)
1 Then the people of Israel traveled to the plains of Moab and camped east of the Jordan River, across from Jericho. 2 Balak son of Zippor, the Moabite king, had seen everything the Israelites did to the Amorites. 3 And when the people of Moab saw how many Israelites there were, they were terrified.
Who is Balak?
Why are Balak and the Moabites terrified of the Israelites?
See Numbers 21:21-24
21 The Israelites sent ambassadors to King Sihon of the Amorites with this message:
22 “Let us travel through your land. We will be careful not to go through your fields and vineyards. We won’t even drink water from your wells. We will stay on the king’s road until we have passed through your territory.”
23 But King Sihon refused to let them cross his territory. Instead, he mobilized his entire army and attacked Israel in the wilderness, engaging them in battle at Jahaz. 24 But the Israelites slaughtered them with their swords and occupied their land from the Arnon River to the Jabbok River. They went only as far as the Ammonite border because the boundary of the Ammonites was fortified.
What are some things that scare you?
Read Numbers 22:4-6
4 The king of Moab said to the elders of Midian, “This mob will devour everything in sight, like an ox devours grass in the field!”
So Balak, king of Moab, 5 sent messengers to call Balaam son of Beor, who was living in his native land of Pethor near the Euphrates River. His message said:
“Look, a vast horde of people has arrived from Egypt. They cover the face of the earth and are threatening me. 6 Please come and curse these people for me because they are too powerful for me. Then perhaps I will be able to conquer them and drive them from the land. I know that blessings fall on any people you bless, and curses fall on people you curse.”
What did Balak’s fear drive him to do?
Who is Balaam?
What are some ways people operate in fear?
How can you overcome fear and operate in faith?
What is one thing you can do this week to trust in the Lord’s ways instead of your own?
Read Numbers 22:7-13
7 Balak’s messengers, who were elders of Moab and Midian, set out with money to pay Balaam to place a curse upon Israel. They went to Balaam and delivered Balak’s message to him. 8 “Stay here overnight,” Balaam said. “In the morning I will tell you whatever the Lord directs me to say.” So the officials from Moab stayed there with Balaam.
9 That night God came to Balaam and asked him, “Who are these men visiting you?”
10 Balaam said to God, “Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, has sent me this message:11 ‘Look, a vast horde of people has arrived from Egypt, and they cover the face of the earth. Come and curse these people for me. Then perhaps I will be able to stand up to them and drive them from the land.’”
12 But God told Balaam, “Do not go with them. You are not to curse these people, for they have been blessed!”
13 The next morning Balaam got up and told Balak’s officials, “Go on home! The Lord will not let me go with you.”
How did Balaam respond when prestigious people from the king came with money and a request to pronounce a curse on the Israelites?
When we are asked to go in a direction away from what the Lord would have us do, why is it harder to resist certain people than others?
What did Balaam do right in this encounter?
When faced with a problem, what can you do this week to stop and listen to the Lord first?
Read Numbers 22:14-17
14 So the Moabite officials returned to King Balak and reported, “Balaam refused to come with us.” 15 Then Balak tried again. This time he sent a larger number of even more distinguished officials than those he had sent the first time. 16 They went to Balaam and delivered this message to him:
“This is what Balak son of Zippor says: Please don’t let anything stop you from coming to help me. 17 I will pay you very well and do whatever you tell me. Just come and curse these people for me!”
What did Balak do when he was told “no”?
How does the enemy come back at us when we tell him “No!”?
What are some ways the enemy has been trying to distract you from following wholeheartedly after Jesus this past week?
Who in your life can you start meeting with (if you aren’t already) to hold you accountable, pray with you, and help you stay on the straight path the Lord wants us to stay on?
When will you start meeting with them?
Read Numbers 22:18-20
18 But Balaam responded to Balak’s messengers, “Even if Balak were to give me his palace filled with silver and gold, I would be powerless to do anything against the will of the Lord my God. 19 But stay here one more night, and I will see if the Lord has anything else to say to me.”
20 That night God came to Balaam and told him, “Since these men have come for you, get up and go with them. But do only what I tell you to do.”
When faced with more power, money, and fame how did Balaam respond?
How did Balaam start to compromise?
How does the prospect of getting more (money, power, sex, fame, followers, etc.) cause us to question the path God has laid out for us?
What are you doing in your life right now that is entertaining the idea of compromising the plan God has for you?
What do you need to do to get back to following the Lord’s way?
What is the Lord telling you to do after studying His Word?
Numbers 22:13 The next morning Balaam got up and told Balak’s officials, “Go on home! The Lord will not let me go with you.”
Closing thoughts and prayer
Since the Lord is the Creator of all, He knows how life works best. When we stop, pray, read God’s Word, and listen, He will direct our paths. However, the enemy will try to get us to compromise, to add the little “buts” to our life like Balaam did. If we give into those things, little by little, we’ve veered off of the path God had us on, and are on a different path entirely. Many times the enemy uses fear against us. We are afraid of being alone so we make bad relationship choices. We are afraid of missing out so we watch things that aren’t edifying in order to be part of the conversations at work. We are afraid we won’t get the promotion based on good work ethic so we bad mouth the other candidates. But perfect love casts out fear. We have to operate in the love of the Lord, and not the fear of the world.
Pray that the Lord would remind you constantly that He loves you. Pray that you would operate in His love, and not fear. Ask the Lord to show you someone that you can help show His love to this week. Ask for forgiveness for the things you’ve done that have been compromising walking in the Lord’s ways.
Finally, end your time praying for our leaders in the church and government.
Why didn’t Balak turn to the Lord?
When you are afraid, what are the first things you turn to in order to find comfort and peace?
How does that typically turn out?
How can you turn first to God’s ways instead of your own when you are afraid?
How did Balaam avoid peer pressure?
What is something unwise you did because of peer pressure?
What are some things people turn to first instead of God?
Why do people turn to other things first, instead of God when faced with a problem or situation?
How does turning to the Lord first help you stay on the right path?
Is there anyone in your life who keeps trying to get you to do the wrong thing, even after you’ve told them “no”?
How does the Lord want you to handle that relationship?
What do you need to do this week to either distance yourself from that relationship, or have tough conversations to make it a healthier relationship?
Why would Balaam consult the Lord again, after the Lord has already made it clear what direction He wants Balaam to take?
What are some ways you do this in your own life?
What are some of the “buts” you’re allowing to creep into your walk with Jesus? (I know I shouldn’t watch this but…, I could read my Bible but…, He/She is bad news for me when I’m around them but…)
What does the Lord want you to do about it?