READ: Numbers 22-24, Psalm 48, Luke 4, 1 Corinthians 4
THE PRECIOUS WORD
Perversity of Our Words. You don’t really want God as an opponent. Balaam clearly heard from God the first time: He was not to go with Balak’s lackeys (Num. 22:13). Repeated requests and appeals to Balaam’s vanity, and he looks for a way to compromise. He goes to see Balak verbally maintaining the high ground even as his donkey carries him towards disaster. God considers this compromise perverse (22:32). We cannot look for a way to both obey God, and gain honor and riches. To compromise the message is to choose God as an enemy. Even stupid donkeys recognize this as folly.
Provision of God’s Word. God supplies the seed for both eating and sowing. He put a word in Balaam’s mouth (22:38, 23:5, 12, 16). As long as we are more afraid of man than God, we will be guilty of Balaam’s error: compromise for personal comfort. This compromise will always lead to disaster. God will supply what we must say; we need not stress about content; and we can devote our energies to obedience. As long as we fear God more than man, He will continue to supply us with what we should say.
Protection of God’s Word. God’s sword can both block and thrust. God’s Word is both what we speak on offense, and it is how we protect ourselves on defense. When Jesus was tempted (Luke 4) He repeatedly referred to the Word. One of the premier ways we protect ourselves from temptation (a condition of vulnerability to sin) is by memorizing the Word of God and physically (verbally) quoting it in times of duress.
Proclamation of God’s Word. Jesus quotes Isaiah (Luke 4:18-19) in a passage that is often used to promote a social gospel. The verbs Jesus chooses to highlight however are: Preach, Heal, Proclaim, Set at Liberty, and Proclaim. There is a priority on proclamation and an implication that healing and deliverance come from the spoken word. As much as we don’t like to hear it, as much as speaking has been abused, God still ordains that the primary way that the gospel is communicated is through preaching. Faith STILL comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.
Power of God’s Word. Proclamation is only valid if done with power and authority. “What a word this is!” Remark the hearers of Jesus when He speaks with power and authority (Luke 4:36). By His words Jesus rebukes both demons (vv. 35, 41) and sickness (v. 39). Little in the world is as tedious as hypocritical words – which are powerless. Paul reminds us “the Kingdom is not in [empty] words but in power” (1 Cor. 4:20).
Parameters of God’s Word. There are boundaries in life, boundaries to our thinking even. God’s Word gives us the “riverbanks” of our thoughts. Some things should not be asked, some things should not be considered. We are to “learn not to think beyond what is written” (1 Cor. 4:6). How precious that God’s Word both gives life and keeps us from death.