Ultimate Truth: Politicians Just Don’t Get It

February 13, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Posted in Devotional thoughts, English Bible Translations | Leave a comment

King Balak just didn’t get it.  He believed that money and personal agenda, especially a king’s agenda, trumps everything else.  He thought his desired outcome ought to be everybody’s desired outcome.  He was clueless that some men can act from conviction of ultimate truth rather than personal agenda.  When Balak invited the prophet Balaam to curse the Israelites by promising him lots of money, he just naturally assumed that Balaam would be enticed to come, but Balaam warned him that he would only speak what God told him to speak.  “Even if Balak gave me his palace filled with silver and gold, I could not do anything great or small to go beyond the command of the Lord my God.” (Numbers 22:18)

When Balaam, after an amusing incident with his donkey for which he is most famous, came to Balak and blessed the Israelites instead of cursing them, the king was furious.  Balak thought that seeing the Israelites from a different location would change Balaam’s (or maybe God’s) mind.  He tried three times to get Balaam to curse the people of God, and three times Balaam blessed them instead.  Balak sent the prophet away without any of the reward he promised, which was just as Balaam expected.

God’s principles are God’s principles; they are unchanging.  They remain in place regardless of circumstances, like location or promised riches; they are based on ultimate truth.  Many politicians today are like King Balak.  They just don’t get it.  They believe that money and personal agenda, especially a powerful politician’s agenda, trumps everything else. They think their desired outcomes ought to be everybody’s desired outcomes.  They are clueless that some men can act from conviction of ultimate truth rather than personal agenda.  They naturally assume that others will be enticed by their promises.  But when their agenda crosses the line of ultimate truth, they are furious that people will stand against them.

In recent days we have seen some examples of leaders crossing the line, and I believe we will see many more, unless the outcome of the upcoming election dramatically changes things.  The time to stand against the personal agendas of those in power, even if it means civil disobedience, will come (as Chuck Colson points out in this recent video).  When it does, and when Christians take that stand, the authorities will be furious.  They just won’t get it.  Still we must stand for ultimate truth.

As a final note, compare Balaam’s prophecy of Numbers 23:19 in the two translations I am comparing this year.  The NIV2011, trying to use gender inclusive language wherever possible, changed “God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind.  Does he speak and then not act?  Does he promise and not fulfill? “ (NIV1984) to “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. …”  The first is much more concise and powerful, while the second, in my mind, comes across as awkward.  The ESV, which uses gender inclusive language only when necessary, translates, “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind.  Has he said, and will he not do it?  Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?”  The ESV gets my vote again today.

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