In the book of B’midbar (Numbers), Chapter 22 tells us the story of how Balak, the son of the king of Moab, hired a man named Bilyam (Balaam is how most Christian Bibles spell it) to curse the Israelites, who have just defeated the Emori and now are on the border of his land.
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I think we all know the story: Balak sends messengers to summon Bilyam to curse the Israelites, God tells Bilyam not to go but he ends up going. An angel is sent to stop Bilyam but his ass continues to sidestep the angel until Bilyam gets so angry he beats the ass. That’s when the ass speaks to him and Bilyam sees the angel with drawn sword. God tells Bilyam to continue to go but say only what he is told to say, and Bilyam ends up blessing the people instead of cursing them.
Balak then sends Bilyam back to his own country and right after Bilyam leaves (Numbers 25) the people of God commit the sin of Ba’al-Peor. They were seduced by the Moabite and Midianite women to partake in their paganistic rituals and worship of the Moabite gods, which resulted in God’s anger being poured out on the Israelites in the form of a plague which took 24,000 lives.
Now, do you recall that even though Balak was infuriated with Bilyam, Bilyam gave Balak advice on how to get God to destroy his own people? No? Well, we are told about it in Numbers 31:16; that is when we find out the sin of Ba’al-Peor was the brainchild of Bilyam!
The Israelites had just defeated Midian and saved the women as spoils of war. Moses is infuriated with the leaders, saying (JPS Tanakh):
Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Bilyam, to revolt so as to break faith with the LORD in the matter of Peor, and so the plague was among the congregation of the LORD.
Aha!! So, even though Bilyamblessed the people, he reverted back to his sorcerer ways and told Balak how he could get the people to make their own God curse them.
That brings me to today’s topic. The same thing that Bilyamdid which resulted in the people of God sinning, which forced God to punish them, is alive and well in the body of Messiah, today!
Anything that is done against the people of God we know originates with Satan, the enemy of God, and what Satan has done is cause dissent, arguing, pridefulness and personal attacks against each other to promulgate itself throughout the congregation of Believers in Messiah, causing them to sin. This sin that Satan introduces within the body of the Messiah weakens the entire body and will cause, just as the advice of Bilam did, God to take action against his own people.
So, nu? How has Satan done this terrible thing? He has introduced the idea that we need to know exactly how to pronounce God’s name and the idea of the Trinity. And just as the people sinned against God when the Moabite women seduced them into worshiping their gods, so, too, people within the congregations who argue and fight against each other about God’s name or whether or not Yeshua and God are the same or different cause God’s people to sin against God.
Please forgive this next statement, but I am sorry to say, these arguments never were an issue before Gentiles were grafted in. Jews have been substituting Adonai, HaShem, Elohim, and other names for God instead of pronouncing the Tetragrammaton for millennia, and God never once had a problem with that. Also, Jews knew of God’s Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) since Day 1, but never ever thought it was the same exact entity as God, himself. And the Messiah was never, in the Jewish mindset, to be God.
This type of seduction into argumentation as a means of separating God’s people is not new: as far back as the early congregations formed by Shaul, he was warning his Gentile Believer congregations against arguing with each other. Here are a few examples:
2 Timothy 2:14…Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.
Philippians 2:14-15…Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”
Titus 3:2…They must not slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone.
1 Corinthians 3:3…That’s because you are still worldly. As long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, you are worldly and living by human standards, aren’t you?
Besides these warnings, we should also remember all of the warnings in the Book of Proverbs against useless arguing.
I have seen, as you have, so many times when people who are supposed to be Christian or Messianic argue about things that really have nothing at all to do with salvation or knowing God’s desires for us. They start off defending their position, then when the other person refuses to agree, they begin to argue, reverting to name-calling, judging the other person as unfit for God’s kingdom or heretical, calling them spiritually immature or a non-Believer, and eventually reverting to childish, insulting and degrading personal attacks.
These are sins against God. Every sin we commit is first and foremost a sin against God. King David knew this and said so in Psalm 51.
I am not exclusively blaming Gentile Believers for this problem, even though I do believe it started with Gentiles at the end of the first century thinking they can just change all of God’s rules. Today, I see this dissension from all Believers, whether Christian, Hebraic Roots, Messianic, or what-have-you. It is not righteousness that is behind this, but the spirit of Bilam infiltrating the body of Messiah.
The answer to this problem is actually not very complicated: focus on what saves, maintain a position of humility, don’t allow pridefulness to overcome you to the point where you find yourself insulting someone, and never, ever, ever let yourself be drawn into an argument when you can plainly see that the other person is not going to change their mind.
What I do is to state my case and if the other person is not open to even hearing it, which I know immediately because they don’t address my points but just repeat their side, then I simply tell them we must agree to disagree, and let God judge between us.
If that doesn’t stop them I will stop replying. And in most cases, since they really only want to hear themselves talk, my not being there doesn’t stop them. Eventually, I have to block them.
I do have discussions with people where we are at opposite ends of a topic, but we can discuss it without insults or arguments. These few and far between events are refreshing and renew my hope that we can allow God’s spirit to rule over our own sinful pride when dealing with each other.
Listen to someone as compassionately as you want them to talk to you and when you are in a discussion, always focus on what edifies. Insults, arguing for the sake of arguing, and personal attacks are prideful, unnecessary, and a sin. Follow the example of the archangel Michael (Jude 1:9) who was arguing with Satan but instead of condemning him said, “The Lord rebuke you!”
God’s people should be an example of how God tells us to treat each other, and if you can’t be a good example, then at least don’t be a bad one.
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Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!