A Man in Love with the World
Today’s reading: Numbers 24-27; Mark 8:11-38
36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? Mark 8:36-37
3 So Israel yoked himself to Baal of Peor. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel. Numbers 25:3
God warns us frequently to beware of loving the world (e.g. I John 2:15-17). In today’s reading, Jesus asked “what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” Famous conquerors like Alexander the Great, Napoleon, and Hitler gained large portions of the earth. In science fiction, evil schemers like Darth Vader or Lex Luther attempt to take over the world or the cosmos. They are Satan figures who repel us.
Even if a real, historic figure could find a way to take control of the world, he (or she) would do so at the cost of his soul. Balaam was a man in love with the world and he paid for it with his soul.
Balaam failed to curse Israel because God restrained him, but he thought of another way to bring God’s curses on Israel. He advised the Moabites to invite the Israelites to the sacrifices of their gods (Numbers 31:16). He knew that if the Israelites participated in what would end up being a wild orgy, God would unleash His wrath upon them. The scheme worked for a while, but the guilty were executed and God’s wrath was satisfied.
Let this be a lesson to us. Beware of what you love. Beware of loving the wealth, comforts, power, and prestige which the world affords. People in ancient Israel died because they failed to be vigilant against these temptations. In the gospel of Jesus Christ, we learn that none are innocent of these sins. Only by repentance of our spiritual adultery and faith in the One who died for His elect people can the sentence of death be stopped.
Love not the world. Love the Creator of the world, and of all things, and of us. He also came to stop the curse of death.