Happy July 4th to the American readers. I hope you all have a good holiday, despite the heat wave. In the commonwealth, this is not a day we remember. Australia, New Zealand and Canada — the three dominions — celebrate variations on Dominion Day (although in NZ the treaty that ceded the country to the crown with the Maori is our national day).
One of the profound ironies is that the Americans, who rejected the constitutional monarchy with was established by the law of succession in the Glorious Revolution — since then, parliament has ruled — now have a more tyrannical king, albeit elected, than the queen is.
Today is July 4th. On this day, like all days, we need to hold our love for our nation lightly, For God will call us to account. And his blessing may not be on my nation, or yours.
41On the next day Balak took Balaam and brought him up to Bamoth-baal; and from there he could see part of the people of Israel.
1Then Balaam said to Balak, “Build me seven altars here, and prepare seven bulls and seven rams for me.” 2Balak did as Balaam had said; and Balak and Balaam offered a bull and a ram on each altar. 3Then Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here beside your burnt offerings while I go aside. Perhaps the LORD will come to meet me. Whatever he shows me I will tell you.” And he went to a bare height.
4Then God met Balaam; and Balaam said to him, “I have arranged the seven altars, and have offered a bull and a ram on each altar.” 5The LORD put a word in Balaam’s mouth, and said, “Return to Balak, and this is what you must say.” 6So he returned to Balak, who was standing beside his burnt offerings with all the officials of Moab. 7Then Balaam uttered his oracle, saying: “Balak has brought me from Aram, the king of Moab from the eastern mountains: ‘Come, curse Jacob for me; Come, denounce Israel!’ 8How can I curse whom God has not cursed? How can I denounce those whom the LORD has not denounced? 9For from the top of the crags I see him, from the hills I behold him; Here is a people living alone, and not reckoning itself among the nations! 10Who can count the dust of Jacob, or number the dust-cloud of Israel? Let me die the death of the upright, and let my end be like his!”
11Then Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I brought you to curse my enemies, but now you have done nothing but bless them.” 12He answered, “Must I not take care to say what the LORD puts into my mouth?”
Balaam is one of those people who it is difficult to read. He was not of Israel, but he was a seer. Balak thought, that like many priests, he would say what he was paid to say. However, Balaam did not.
His advice appears (taken from the context of the Moabite apostasy) to get the young women of Moab to marry into Israel and then lead them astray. To do this would have meant that Israel was not counted apart from other nations but was like them.
Now, one of the big errors we can make, as a nation, is claiming that we are the new Israel. We are not. The church is, but the church is no tribe, and like Israel, should count itself apart… and the old Israel is Israel. There are Jews in this world. and interestingly they have rediscovered Torah and are breeding. If a nation is wise, they will be aware that they will rise, and then fall. The period of greatness is followed by the period of retreat. It happened to the Hittites, Greece and Egypt, and it will happen to us.
To quote Kipling.
God of our fathers, known of old,Lord of our far-flung battle-line,Beneath whose awful Hand we holdDominion over palm and pine—Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,Lest we forget—lest we forget!The tumult and the shouting dies;The Captains and the Kings depart:Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,An humble and a contrite heart.Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,Lest we forget—lest we forget!