He gave gifts to men

Seventh in the Ascension Series

‘What hath God wrought!’ (Num 23:23) is applicable to Christ’s death at Calvary, just as it described the work of God on behalf of the Israelites to prevent Balaam from cursing them.

In the story, Barak the Moabite was determined that Balaam, a prophet, would curse the Israelites who traveled on their way to Canaan, for Barak feared their prowess. (Num 22:2).

This story even includes a talking ass who rebukes Balaam for his obstinacy in persisting to please Barak. Yet Balaam found it impossible to curse them, for How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed? or how shall I defy, whom the LORD hath not defied? (Num 23:8)

Instead he prophesied:

How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel! As the valleys are they spread forth, as gardens by the river's side, as the trees of lign aloes which the LORD hath planted, and as cedar trees beside the waters… (Num 24:5-6 et al)

The strength and fruitfulness of God’s people is wonderful to behold. Across the centuries we observe and are amazed at their/our deliverances from slavery, evil, and self-defeating behaviors by the Lord of Hosts.

In New Testament times such power was and is poured out because of Calvary.

Explaining the Cross of Christ

The Lord by the Holy Spirit says to believers through Paul:

And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
(Col 2:13-15)

We must understand that our war against the flesh, the world and the devil has been won and our privilege is to stand or to fight against them as authentic believers.

Satan knows who belongs to God and who does not. This is explained by the story in Acts 19:

Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.
And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.
And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?
And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
(Acts 19:13-16)

The person who is not a member of God’s family cannot win a battle with the Enemy, nor even a skirmish. But how can we Christians comprehend and live our lives in Christ’s strength? The great Truths of the Faith need to be explained.

How would the Lord enable his disciples to share the Gospel and to teach and encourage the saints?

He gave gifts to them. As Paul explains to the Ephesians:

Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men…
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
(Eph 4:8-12)

He gave them gifts to equip us, and he continues to pour out his Spirit on all who belong to him to enable us to share Christ and to minister to one another.

Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
(Eph 4:13-16)

It would not be possible to describe such wonders without divine gifts.

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