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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Not in Part but the Whole

I love the way hymns and worship songs put things. One of the lines in "It is Well with my Soul" says, "My sin, not in part but the whole, was nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more.". Today in my reading i was reminded of this line as i thought about how if the entirety of our sin was paid for, the entirety of our lives must reflect this.

This morning I was reading in numbers and I reached the story of Balaam in numbers 22-24. Most people probably remember the part where Balaam's donkey speaks since thats definitely bizarre, but the second part of the story is what I'm going to write about today.

The original reason for the donkey journey at all was because the king of Moab, Balak, had summoned Balaam to come and curse the Israelites. There's a lot of interesting things about this, but I'm going to restrain myself from the inclination to go off and wonder about other things in the story for the sake of brevity. If anyone is interested in anything else let me know and I'd love to check it out together.

Initially Balaam had refused the invitation after consulting the Lord, but after the king insisted, the Lord told Balaam to go under the condition that he say nothing aside from what the Lord told him.

The king brought Balaam to a point where he could see a portion of the Israelite camp and asked Balaam to curse them out of fear. Balaam consulted the Lord and instead blessed the Israelites. Balak's response to this was to take him to a different place where he would see a different fraction of Israel. He did this twice, but still Balaam blessed the Israelites.

Whats interesting about this is how Balak took Balaam to three different places, each overlooking a smaller portion of the Israelite camp. Each time prompting Balaam to curse this smaller part of the camp. Yet each time Gods blessing comes forth rather than a curse.

This story bears striking similarities to the temptations we face. We as Christians are pressured to make negotiations with sin. Draw lines in the sand and rather than flee, keep drawing lines further and further down the shore until we ultimately find ourselves engulfed in the waves.

Worse yet we can compartmentalize our lives and play a foolish game of keeping God in his boxes and our desires and goals in the others. We face these sorts of temptations everyday. "It's not that important", "this is such a small thing", "I'll start doing better tomorrow". We have to realize that God's commands aren't segmented, and our response to the "small" and "big" things needs to be the same, just as God's response was the same regardless of the portion of the camp.

Jeremy Peggins, Building Bookcases Writer

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