March 21: Sins of Omission
Numbers 24–25; 1 Corinthians 7:17–40; Psalm 21:1–13
There’s that moment when you’re asked to do something you know is wrong, but you feel like you should respond. It’s almost as fleeting as the decision to not stand up for what is right, even when no one asks for your opinion. Many wrongdoings occur in these moments—these chances for sins of omission. Being silent is as bad as committing the wrong action, which is why the American court system prosecutes all the people committing an armed robbery for murder when only one gunman pulls the trigger.
Balaam, the prophet from Moab, had such an opportunity. After he was asked by Yahweh to bless the people of Israel—in opposition to his own king’s request (Num 22:1–6)—he could have done nothing at all. Or he could have made Yahweh like the gods of Moab—subjecting them to his will instead of their own—but he instead follows the orders of Yahweh and blesses the people of Israel (Num 24:3–9).
The psalmist addresses what can happen when things go differently: “Though they have plotted evil against you [Yahweh], though they have planned a scheme, they will not prevail. For you will turn them to flight, you will aim arrows on your bowstrings at their faces” (Psa 21:11–12).
We can hinder or help the work of God. Often this work can be done by much subtler means. Consider how you act or choose not to act in key moments, whether big or small. Today, choose to do the work that God has called you to do.
What sins of omission are currently in your life?
JOHN D. BARRY
- When Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel, then he went not, as certain times before, to set divinations, but set his face toward the wilderness. And Balaam lift up his eyes, and looked upon Israel, which dwelt according to their tribes, and the Spirit of God came upon him, And he uttered his parable, and said, Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes were shut up, hath said, He hath said which heard the words of God, and saw the vision of the Almighty, and falling in a trance had his eyes opened: How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thine habitations, O Israel! As the valleys are they stretched forth, as gardens by the river’s side, as the aloe trees, which the Lord hath planted, as the cedars beside the waters. The water droppeth out of his bucket, and his seed shall be in many waters, and his King shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted. God brought him out of Egypt: his strength shall be as an unicorn: he shall eat the nations his enemies, and bruise their bones, and shoot them through with his arrows. He coucheth, and lieth down as a young Lion, and as a Lion: Who shall stir him up? blessed is he that blesseth thee, and cursed is he that curseth thee. Then Balak was very angry with Balaam, and smote his hands together: so Balak said unto Balaam, I sent for thee to curse mine enemies, and behold, thou hast blessed them now three times. Therefore now flee unto thy place: I thought surely to promote thee unto honor, Then Balaam answered Balak, Told I not also thy messengers, which thou sentest unto me, saying, If Balak woud give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot pass the commandment of the Lord, to do either good or bad of mine own mind? what the Lord shall command, that same will I speak. And now behold, I go unto my people: come, I will advertise, thee what this people shall do to thy folk in the latter days. And he uttered his parable, and said Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes were shut up hath said, He hath said that heard the words of God, and hath the knowledge of the most High, and saw the vision of the Almighty, and falling in a trance had his eyes opened: I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not near: there shall come a Star of Jacob, and a Scepter shall rise of Israel and shall smite the coasts of Moab, and destroy all the sons of Sheth. And Edom shall be possessed, and Seir shall be a possession to their enemies: but Israel shall do valiantly. He also that shall have dominion shall be of Jacob, and shall destroy the remnant of the city. And when he looked on Amalek, he uttered his parable, and said, Amalek was the first of the nations: but his latter end shall come to destruction. And he looked to the Kenites, and uttered his parable, and said, Strong is thy dwelling place, and put thy nest in the rock: Nevertheless, the Kenite shall be spoiled, until Asshur carry thee away captive. Again he uttered his parable, and said, Alas, who shall live when God doeth this? The ship also shall come from the coasts of Kittim, and subdue Asshur, and shall subdue Eber, and he also shall come to destruction. Then Balaam rose up, and went and returned to his place: and Balak also went his way. Now while Israel abode in Shittim, the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab: Which called the people unto the sacrifice of their gods, and the people ate, and bowed down to their gods. And Israel coupled himself unto Baal of Peor: wherefore the wrath of the Lord was kindled against Israel: And the Lord said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people and hang them up before the Lord against the Sun, that the indignation of the Lord’s wrath may be turned from Israel. Then Moses said unto the Judges of Israel, Everyone slay his men that were joined unto Baal of Peor. And behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the Congregation of the children of Israel, who wept before the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. And when Phinehas the son of Eleazar the son of Aaron the Priest saw it, he rose up from the midst of the Congregation, and took a spear in his hand, And followed the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust them both through: to wit, the man of Israel, and the woman, through her belly: so the plague ceased from the children of Israel. And there died in that plague four and twenty thousand. Then the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the Priest, hath turned mine anger away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them: therefore I have not consumed the children of Israel in my jealousy. Wherefore say to him, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace. And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of the Pirest’s office forever, because he was zealous for his God, and hath made an atonement for the children of Israel. And the name of the Israelite thus slain, which was killed with the Midianitish woman, was Zimri the son of Salu, prince of the family of the Simeonites. And the name of the Midianitish woman that was slain, was Cozbi the daughter of Zur, who was head over the people of his father’s house in Midian. Again the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Vext the Midianites, and smite them: For they trouble you with their wiles, wherewith they have beguiled you as concerning Peor, and so concerning their sisters Cozbi daughter of a prince of Midian, which was slain in the day of the plague because of Peor. Numbers 24–25
- But as God hath distributeth to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk: and so ordain I in all Churches. Is any man called being circumcised? let him not gather his uncircumcision: is any called uncircumcised? let him not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God. Let every man abide in the same vocation wherein he was called. Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if yet thou mayest be free, use it rather. For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called being free, is Christ’s servant. Ye are bought with a price: be not the servants of men. Brethren, let every man, wherein he was called, therein abide with God. Now concerning virgins, I have no commandment of the Lord: but I give mine advise, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful. I suppose then this to be good for the present necessity: I mean that it is good for a man so to be. Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed: art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife. But if thou takest a wife, thou sinnest not: and if a virgin marry, she sinneth not: nevertheless, such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you. And this I say, brethren, because the time is short, hereafter that both they which have wives, be as though they had none: And they that weep, as though they wept not: and they that buy, as though they possessed not: and they that use this world, as though they used it not: from the fashion of this world goeth away. And I would have you without care. The unmarried careth for things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. But he that is married, careth for the things of the world, how he may please his wife. There is difference also between a virgin and a wife: the unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy, both in body and in spirit: but she that is married, careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. And this I speak for your own commoity, not to tangle you in a snare, but that ye follow that which is honest, and that ye may cleave fast unto the Lord without separation. But if any man think that it is uncomely for his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and nee so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them be married. Nevertheless, he that standeth firm in his heart, that he hath no need, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart, that he will keep his virgin, he doeth well. So then he that giveth her to marriage, doeth well, but he that giveth her not to marriage, doeth better. The wife is bound by the law, as long as her husband liveth: but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to marry with whom she will, only in the Lord. But she is more blessed, if she so abide in my judgment: and I think that I have also the Spirit of God. 1 Corinthians 7:17–40
- The King shall rejoice in thy strength, O Lord: yea how greatly shall he rejoice in thy salvation? Thou hast given him his heart’s desire, and hast not denied him the request of his lips. Selah. For thou didst prevent him with liberal blessings, and didst set a crown of pure gold upon his head. He asked life of thee, and thou gavest him a long life forever and ever. His glory is great in thy salvation: dignity and honor hast thou laid upon him. For thou hast set him as blessings forever: thou hast made him glad with the joy of thy countenance.Because the king trusteth in the Lord, and in the mercy of the most high, he shall not slide. Thine hand shall find out all thine enemies, and thy right hand shall find out them that hate thee. Thou shalt make them like a fiery oven in time of thine anger: the Lord shall destroy them in his wrath, and the fire shall devour them. Their fruit shall thou destroy from the earth, and their seed from the children of men. For they intended evil against thee, and imagined mischief, but they shall not prevail. Therefore shalt thou put them apart, and the strings of thy bow shalt thou make ready against their faces. Be thou excited, O Lord, in thy strength: so will we sing and praise thy power. Psalm 21:1–13