Today we start with the people of Israel on a rampage. They are coming up the east side of the Dead Sea, and that area was pretty populated. Different than some of the desert where they had been wandering. Not even a rat would live out there. This land was varied, and nice, and people had settled into towns, with kings.
Of course, 3 million people coming to pay a visit was a pretty big threat. The first Caananite king came out and attacked them. Here is what follows:
2 "Israel vowed a vow to God: "If you will give this people into our power, we'll destroy their towns and present the ruins to you as a holy destruction."
3 God listened to Israel's prayer and gave them the Canaanites. They destroyed both them and their towns, a holy destruction. They named the place Hormah (Holy Destruction). "
So - next time you are mad and go on a rampage, don't say you lost your temper. Just say you are causing "a holy destruction" Well - that struck me as funny when I read it, but as I write it I realize it is not funny. Not funny at all. If you have an anger problem you need to get counselling...
On to a truly strange story.
The Israelites are moving in. They take over a number of towns and cities, kill all the residents and take over the real estate. I am a real estate investor, but this is the best deal I have ever seen. Fix up the house (from the damage that you yourself did) and move in. No down payment, no qualifying, no mortgage, no payments, no real estate taxes, no utility bills. Sounds great to me!
(I must be in a really weird mood today!)
The strangest story is still to come. There is a guy called Balaam. If you think the Bible story is about his butt you are wrong. It is about his donkey.
He was known as a diviner. God talks to him, so perhaps he is a God follower or prophet, but he acts more like a mercernary witch doctor, doing spells and incantations for money. The leader of the next town sends a contingent to this guy - offering to pay money for a curse.
Balaam asks them to stay overnight so he can ask God in the morning. God says to Balaam, "Don't go with them. And don't curse the others—they are a blessed people." So Balaam says "No".
The king sends another contingent. More senior in his administration. MUCH more money offered. When Balaam hears the sum of money he thinks, "Maybe I didn't hear God right. Let's try this again..." So they stay overnight also.
The next morning God says, "Go, but only say what I tell you." So they are all returning together to see the king. Everybody is hopeful for a satisfactory and profitable result of this little trek.
God puts an angel in the way, so the donkey can't go around it. Balaam beats the donkey. Once. Twice. Three times. Finally the donkey talks to him. "Can't you see the angel? Why are you beating me these three times?" If that isn't bad enough, Balaam now sees the angel, who asks the same thing again, "Why are you beating your poor donkey these three times?"
Balaam repents, goes on his way, and ends up blessing the people of Israel. I rather think he did not collect the cash, but apparently he got away with his life.
What is the lesson? I have no clue. But it sure is an interesting story...