Not all popular sayings we think are from the scriptures originated there. A father told his son, “Anything faster than the feet is death,” and it made good sense to him. Although he couldn’t do without automobiles and planes over long distances, he knew he stood a greater risk dying than when he walked. It also taught him to be patient in life.
Years later, when he combed the scriptures, he drew a blank. He must have been amazed at reports that in 2017, global commercial aviation recorded zero fatality resulting from accident.
However, there are some sayings one would want to swear have roots in the scriptures. For example, during trials and tribulations, sympathizers and comforters often say, “This too shall pass.”
Sounds like a Biblical truism. But some Bible scholars are quick to point out that some trials don’t pass because God has a bigger purpose for them. One writer observed that when Apostle Paul struggled with a thorn in his flesh, he begged Jesus to remove it.
“You’d think that Paul, who saw many miracles as he preached the gospel, would see this pain ‘pass.’ But he didn’t.”
What about this one, which even mentions God? “God helps those who help themselves.” It has been discovered that the earliest recording of this saying is actually from Aesop’s Fable “Hercules and the Waggoner.”
A man’s wagon got stuck in a muddy road, and he prayed for Hercules to help. Hercules appeared and said, “Get up and put your shoulder to the wheel.” The moral given was “The gods help them that help themselves.” Researchers say Aesop was a Greek writer who lived from 620 to 564 BC, but obviously did not contribute to the Bible.
However, the focus of this article, which explains why some people come to a sorry state despite God’s blessings, is a popular saying, used by popular musicians like Bob Marley; and it is there in black and white in the Bible, with a beautiful story around it. “Who Jah bless, no man curse,” Bob sang. (Who God has blessed no man can curse).
In the Book of Numbers in the Bible, frightened by the might of the Israelites, who were on their way to the Promised Land, Balak, the King of Moab, sought a prophet’s help. As the Israelites traveled to Canaan, their reputation preceded them, and the Moabites were well aware of the miracles that had accompanied the Exodus from Egypt. Moab lay on the east side of the Dead Sea.
Balaam, the prophet from Mesopotamia, was willing to use his God-given talents for illicit purposes. So he became the obvious choice of Balak, who believed that the only way to destroy the victorious Jews was to outdo them in “magic” by a spell stronger than theirs.
Balak, therefore, sent messengers to Balaam asking him to come to Moab to curse the people of Israel who were threatening to overrun their lands. Balaam knew that he could not do anything against God’s will, and he so declined, even though his personal hatred of the Jews made him only too willing to follow the call.
However, Balak was persistent. He sent an even more imposing delegation of princes and nobles and promised Balaam more gold and silver. Balaam received the deputation with the respect due to their rank, but he told them that even if he was given a full house of gold and silver, he could not go against God’s command. He asked them, however, to stay overnight, because only at night was he privileged to receive divine inspiration. That night, Balaam had a vision in which he was informed that he might go with Balak’s men, but that he was not to say anything save the words that God would put into his mouth.
When king Balak heard of Balaam’s arrival, he went out to meet him and took the prophet up to the heights sacred to Baal. There they built seven altars, upon each of which they sacrificed an ox and a ram. Then Balaam went alone to a solitary place, hoping to receive the word of the Lord. When he returned to the king, he had beheld a vision, and he felt inspired. He stood near his burnt offering before Balak and the princes of Moab, and urged by an irresistible impulse, he broke forth into blessings.
“How can I curse whom God has not cursed?” Balaam exclaimed. He went on to praise the marvelous people who will never lose their identity among the nations of the world.
Hearing Balaam’s divinely inspired praise of Israel, Balak became angry at Balaam for blessing his enemies instead of cursing them. Balaam replied that he could say only what God put in his mouth.
Balak would not give up. The exercise was repeated but God put praise and blessings into Balaam’s mouth. “God is not a man that He should lie, nor is He a mortal that He should relent. Would He say and not do, speak and not fulfill? I have received [an instruction] to bless, and He has blessed, and I cannot retract it…”Eventually, a frustrated and angry Balak ordered Balaam to return home.
And they cursed themselves
Now, this is where the story gets interesting. Before he left, Balaam told Balak that the only way to harm the people of Israel was to seduce them into sin. For only then would God punish His people or stand aloof. That was done by enticing the Israelites with sexual immorality and food sacrificed to idols. The Israelites fell into transgression and God sent a deadly plague to them as a result, and made them vulnerable in wars.
The Significance of the Story
God has blessed us to prosper, to be invincible but through our own sin, we become vulnerable to the enemy or the devil, who is on the prowl for who he can destroy. In today’s world where immorality has been made fashionable, there are many ways through which we disobey God and fall into sin.
A common one is when God’s timing for an opportunity becomes too long for us and makes us resort to self-help or force open doors He has closed for our own good. As Dr. Charles Stanley, a famous Bible teacher, explains, in both cases, we don’t get to where God wants us to go.
He said, “King Saul found this out when he pried open a door the Lord had closed. He should have waited for Samuel, as only the priests were allowed to offer sacrifices. But Saul looked around at the circumstances, became frightened, and took matters into his own hands. Instead of standing at the door, trusting in the Lord, and waiting for Him to open it at the right time, Saul forced his way in, and as a result, lost his kingdom.
“The costs of disobedience are always higher than the benefits of pushing through a closed door. If the Lord has sealed off an entry, it’s for your protection. The right response is to wait patiently and be faithful in your present situation. In time, He’ll either open the door or redirect you to the path that leads to His will.”
How man become his own enemy was the theme of the opening message of Pastor Enoch Adeboye– leader of the Redeemed Christian Church of God — at last year’s Holy Ghost Congress of the Church. Ministering on “Victory over Self,” he counted the three major enemies of man as death, the devil, and self – the individual. He however said, with the intervention of Jesus, death has been conquered, and it is now “like our horse to ride to our glorious home heaven.”
Similarly, through God, it is now possible to overcome the devil by resisting him, commanding him and staying away from sin to avoid him.
But, “Man’s greatest enemy is himself. The biggest enemy of all is yourself,” he stressed, adding that if you win the battle over yourself then the rest is history.
He, however, noted that victory over self, as difficult as it is, can be guaranteed by God. He added, “If you are truly born again then you are a child of God and if your salvation is genuine then something in you will say no to sin every time. So, if you are really born again then the seed of God which is in you will guarantee victory. “God said specifically that sin shall have no dominion over you. The power of God Himself will keep you. The Holy Spirit will help us. We cannot run this race on our own…we need the Help of the Holy Spirit.”
Blessings and Miracles
Many men of God have agreed that blessing is even preferable to miracles. According to Wikipedia, “to be blessed” means to be favored by God, the source of all blessing. Blessings, therefore, are directly associated with, and are believed to come from, God. Thus, to express a blessing is like bestowing a wish on someone that they experience the favor of God, and to acknowledge God as the source of all blessings.
A miracle is an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs. Miracles bring temporary solution to our problems, while blessings keep us from problems. Miracles are short-lived, as a person healed last week, can easily lose his or her healing if they are not steadfast in God; whereas people blessed with divine health hardly fall sick.
An example is Pastor Adeboye, who is always on his feet doing God’s work around the world. He testifies that, “Before I became born again, I was a sportsman, but malaria fever knocked me down at least once a month. When I became born again, I told God to heal me so I could serve Him well. He healed me and I am now serving Him with more than ten times the energy I had back then. By the grace of God, I am waxing stronger.”
Also, staying in God’s blessing of divine prosperity diminishes the need for financial miracles in our lives. God’s miracles rescue us in times of crisis; however, we can say that living in God’s blessings keep crisis from coming.
Wommack is an American Evangelical Christian TV evangelist, a Charismatic teacher and acclaimed faith healer, as well as the founder of Andrew Wommack Ministries.
He explains that Abraham’s blessings has come upon us through faith in Christ. It is the favor of God that was spoken over him, which produced his physical and spiritual abundance. “That’s what the blessing of God is; it’s His divine spoken favor. And that blessing, if mixed with faith, will produce abundance in spirit, soul, and body,” he says.
“The good news is, you are already blessed. The bad news is, most don’t know the power of that blessing. They would rather have a miracle.”
He says once a blessing is received, no outside force can stop it.“If we will believe we are blessed and act accordingly, we can avoid many of the problems that make us candidates for miracles.
“It’s always better to avoid problems, which is the result of living in blessings, than it is to be delivered out of them, which requires a miracle.”
Although he admits that there is corruption in the earth, and there will always be a place for miracles, he assured that Jesus not only forgave us of our sins, He redeemed us from the curse and placed blessings on His followers.
Pastor Adeboye made a similar point at the January Holy Ghost Service of RCCG, when he challenged the congregation to live in God’s physical, material and spiritual blessings and promises, and also activate them to perform miracles.
While thanking God for the many amazing testimonies, including sight for the blind and raising the dead, he wondered why some members of the church still behaved like weaklings in the spirit. Referring to the last Holy Ghost Congress where God promised the congregation a victory song, he wondered why some people were not looking victorious and singing victory songs.
However, like the Israelites in the story of Balak and Balaam, enjoying God’s blessings requires that we live in His principles. God has standards and expectations that are not be compromised.
It is said that if we want to experience the richness of God’s blessing, the fullness of His Spirit, the abundance of His creation, and the power of His Spirit, we must start with God Himself. We must begin with the realization that He is the Lord our God, and live to please Him, lest we become vulnerable like the invincible Israelites during the reign of Balak.
Influenced by other people and the things of this world, we tend to go our own way, and believe what they believe, ignoring God’s principles. Anointed men of God advise that when we fall out of God’s favour, we return quickly to Him by doing what He requires of us to enjoy His blessing.
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