The disciples of Lord Jesus Christ have to be distinct from other people around them. They ought to be distinct in their lifestyle, attitude, deeds, words, relationships, and priorities. The Children of Israel were called to be distinct. Balaam was invited to curse Israel but instead he blessed, as God did not permit him to curse Israel. In his utterances he said: “From the rocky peaks I see them, from the heights I view them. I see a people who live apart and do not consider themselves one of the nations. Who can count the dust of Jacob or number even a fourth of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, and may my final end be like theirs!” (Numbers 23: 9,10) During the time of Esther also, a similar statement about Israelites was made. “Then Haman said to King Xerxes, “There is a certain people dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom who keep themselves separate. Their customs are different from those of all other people, and they do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them. If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will give ten thousand talents of silver to the king’s administrators for the royal treasury.” (Esther 3: 8-9)
In the Old Testament times, the Children of Israel were called to distinct. Many times they failed but succeeded few times. Today, our good Lord expects Christians to be distinct in an environment that is soaked in sin, deceit, sexual immorality, spiritual deception, corruption and darkness.
The DNA of the disciples is different. “Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3: 5-8) .
Balaam was able to see the children of Israel from high hill. It was panoramic view. He was able to see people according to the desire of God (Numbers 22:41). The topography, orderliness, and design of the camp with the tabernacle in midst was an awesome sight. God has designed each one of us with a purpose. His design is there for our families, local churches, communities, nations. Living according to God’s design should be a priority of a disciple. Discovering the design for which we are sent into the world should be the first priority of a Christian and do his will.
The Israelites were alone and did not consider themselves as one of the nations. They were a class apart. They were not ordinary or natural or average; but distinct. The Israelites did not think or speak or live in the realm of ordinary people. Their thoughts, aspirations, ambitions, and priorities were entirely different. The other nations could pride about various things: riches, military power, magical power, forts, and wealth. However, Israelites did not compare themselves with other nation in these arenas. They were distinct because of their spiritual life. The Israel was distinct because of the relationship with God, Covenant with God, Promises of God and Purpose of God.
Paul writes that he will boast only about the Cross and nothing else. “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14) Paul also writes: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” (Galatians 3:1)
The Israelites were numerous like the dust and beyond computation. This was the Promise given to Abraham: “I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore.” (Genesis 22:17) There are two distinct multiplications – sand/dust and stars. Both are not possible to count. The sand/dust denotes the physical descendants of Abraham while the star denotes the spiritual descendants. The Church, the spiritual descendant of Abraham is spread throughout the world – nook and corner, in all nations, among all culture and ethnicity. They are numerous and have great influence over all humanity. The contribution of the Church to the world is beyond computation and description.
The complaint of Haman was that the Israelites were following different customs. They were morally, spiritually and ethically disciplined. Their holiness, righteousness and sense of justice were intolerable in a normal society. Since, they set high moral values; they should be pulled down by compromise or destroyed through ethnic cleansing. Values are not variables but absolute, keeping with the attributes and character of God. The Israelites were consistent in behavior and practices. Christians ought to be disciplined in personal cleanliness; moral values; and spiritual walk. Disciplined Christians are not squeezed by the mould of the world, but are transformation agents who transform customs and culture of the world. (Romans 12:1-2)
6. Death and destiny
Balaam longed or desired a death similar to that of the Israelites. Death is considered inauspicious, and enemy (I Corinthians 15:26). However, for Christians, death is desirable and evens a privilege. According to Balaam, Israelites were blessed even in their death. In fact, for Christians death is an open door to eternity with God in Heaven. Christians are not afraid of death but could embrace death with joy; as they rest from the labours, struggles, pains, tears, worries, stress, anxieties, diseases and disappointments in the world. (Revelation 14:13)
What kind of disciples of Lord Jesus Christ we find in the world today? Unfortunately, a majority of so called Christians fail to display the distinctiveness of following Lord Jesus Christ. The Christ-likeness is not revealed to the world through their words, deeds, relationships, and lifestyle. Even those who considered themselves enemies, like Haman and Balaam, gave glorious testimony about the Israelites. Even Daniel critics could not find fault with him.