The Prophet Balaam advised the people of Moab and Midian to invite the Israelites to their own festivities and celebrations. That brought the children of Israel into contact with the heathens and their pagan customs. The sons and daughters of God had communion and fellowship with the heathen nations and their offspring. That was the end of the separation of Israel from this world and its many different ways of life. The borderline between these two fundamentally different people was crossed and eradicated. They attached themselves to those, whom they should have avoided and shunned. The mixing of these two opposites was the result. Israel became indistinguishable from the pagan and heathen nations. This sexual immorality led to spiritual infidelity too. That brought about the result the prophet Balaam foresaw and had eagerly anticipated. The divine wrath struck the elect people of Israel. On that day more than twenty-three thousand died.
You too may meet people, who don’t trust and believe in God. They might even invite you to forsake your Christian way of life and to do as people outside the church do. Even though we have the very clear word of the godly prophets and Moses, yes even those of him who is by far greater than Moses and all others, we have the wholesome testimonies of his apostles and evangelists together with his most efficacious and meritorious sacraments – still far too many turn their back on these and cling to the empty promises of the world and its adherents. They fall into this temptation and thus loose eternal life in the hope of gaining a temporary existence only. What a sad and miserable swop that is! Truly quite heartbreaking.
We should be very grateful if we are warned in good time of such mortal dangers. We should recognize the biblical warnings written for us and our salvation. This is especially true and necessary if the popular authors of our time and so-called good friends of ours begin to contradict this biblical truth, if they start apologizing for the pagan and godless ways – excusing and even justifying and praising them and inviting us to be a sport and try them. If bad is called good and godless is deemed spiritual, beneficial and healing – then it is high time to listen first and foremost to God’s holy Word as recorded for us in the divinely inspired books of both the Old and the New Testament.
Come, follow Me, the Savior spake, All in My way abiding; Deny yourselves, the world forsake, Obey My call and guiding. Oh, bear the cross, whate’er betide, Take My example for your guide.
I am the Light, I light the way, A godly life displaying; I bid you walk as in the day, I keep your feet from straying. I am the Way, and well I show How you must sojourn here below.
My heart abounds in lowliness, My soul with love is glowing, And gracious words My lips express, With meekness overflowing. My heart, My mind, My strength, My all, To God I yield, on Him I call.
I teach you how to shun and flee What harms your soul’s salvation, Your heart from every guile to free, From sin and its temptation. I am the Refuge of your soul And lead you to your heavenly goal.
Then let us follow Christ, our Lord, And take the cross appointed And, firmly clinging to His Word, In suffering be undaunted. For who bears not the battle’s strain The crown of life shall not obtain. (Johann Scheffler, 1627-77 tr. Charles W. Schaeffer, 1813-96)
This is a rather free translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion for Monday after the ninth Sunday after the high holiday and festival of the Holy Trinity. It is found on Pg. 279 in Lob sei Dir ewig, o Jesu! (Eternal Praise to you o Jesus!) edited by A. Schuster and published in the Freimund Verlag, Neuendettelsau 1949.