Webster’s defines presumption as assuming something to be true. Taking for granted some piece of evidence not fully established. Based on inference, which is the process of arriving at a conclusion not logically derived from the assumed premise, yet possesses some degree of probability to the premise. Often the conclusion we arrive at is wrong. In the Old Testament, presumption is not just presuming something as we see it, but it is often sin against God. Outright rebellion.
The worst part of the sin of rebellion is that you often feel you’re going forth in God’s word and power, when in actuality the whole premise is off, as you have not truly sought Him for direction. You go forth as if you have directions from the God you know, yet you’ve not sought His face or come to a place where you have attempted to empty yourself first that He would fill you. You’re filled with your own idea of this God you’ve read about or at one time followed, but have lost your way and still seek to lead.
A perfect example of going forth in what you presume to be right, but in actuality follows none of God’s innumerable laws, is David going to reclaim the Ark of the Covenant in 2 Samuel 6. He was to bring the ark to the City of David, but there were specific rules. His assumption led to the death of Uzzah who touched the ark which could only be moved by the Kohathites using poles to carry the ark on their shoulders. But David, though fearful, finally sought the proper way to transport the ark.
Balaam is one who presumed to speak for God in Numbers chapters 22-24. Balak, a Moabite, hired Balaam to curse Israel, believing this would rid the land of Israel. God spoke to Balaam and told him he could not curse Israel for they are blessed. Balaam should have left right away, but his vanity was easily manipulated by Balak and by the lure of money he knew he shouldn’t take to curse Israel. So, he followed the princes of Moab sent by Balak, and God’s anger was aroused against Balaam. Were it not for Balaam’s donkey stopping and then speaking to Balaam in his own language, the Angel of the Lord would have killed Balaam. The Angel of the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes to see him and he told him were it not for the donkey recognizing God’s authority and stopping, he would have killed Balaam and allowed the donkey to live. Balaam eventually gave a prophetic word favorable to Israel that he saw in an open-eyed vision. He should have stopped there and repented for not walking away right from the start. His sorcery and lust for money eventually brought him into league with other enemies of Israel. In Numbers 31:8, we see Balaam died for presuming he could maintain his sinful ways without reprisal. I feel Balaam was called as a prophet, but the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life were too alluring to him. Spiritual insight, based on seeking God’s face, was myopic at best, and vision was clouded by self.
One of the hardest lessons seen as punishment for the sin of presumption occurs in Numbers 20 with Moses. He has been given a task in bringing Israel out of Egypt and into the promised land that seems impossible, but for God. Mighty miracles and the presence of God in a cloud by day and fire by night constantly before you. Yet Israel complains constantly. Moses is always standing before the living and the dead. Always interceding for the tribes of Israel and constantly being faulted for the trials they had to encounter. In Numbers 20, Moses appears fed up. The people again complain for lack of water and the Lord tells Moses to take his rod, and with Aaron, gather the people of Israel together. God tells Moses to speak to the rock before their eyes and it will yield water for them. Moses speaks to Israel in anger and says “Hear now you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” Moses then struck the rock. He presumed he was following the command of the Lord but did so in his own strength and in anger. Earlier in Exodus 17, he was told to strike the rock to bring forth water. But here it was different. His assuming that his anger would not be seen as usurping authority from God, and acting as if his strength from an angered state would be overlooked, was a sin of assumption. This represented more than just obedience to the act of producing water for Israel, but to what God would do in always supplying their needs. This rock represented redemption. Christ. Yet Moses assumed his actions would be without consequences. They were not. Moses was not allowed to enter the promised land. God allowed Moses to view the promised land from Mt. Nebo where he was buried by God. At his death, his eyes were not dim nor his natural vigor diminished.
This penalty for the sin of presumption – rebellion, by Moses, should cause anyone to take stock of their walk. I find this one of the saddest stories in the Old Testament. Yet even in this, all God’s judgements are true and righteous. Every word of God is true – He is a shield to those who trust in Him. I find that too many have an unrealistic grasp on the judgements of God. Yes, we are under grace, but the laws of the Lord are too often taken for granted. So many presume to speak for the Lord, not fully dissecting their own motives, and believing that His favor will somehow override the penalty for our disobedience. The gospels and the apostles speak of the penalties for disobedience. People that presume to speak for God and lead by their own compass must read what Peter said in 2 Peter 2. Corrupt people leading others on a wrong path. They have forsaken the right path and followed the way of Balaam who loved the wages of unrighteousness. People like these are like wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. This is new testament. If we listened before we spoke, if we weighed our intentions against what His word says, we could avoid so much trouble. For ourselves, and those we might lead astray. As I have spoken before, if someone speaks a doctrine that does not line up with Christ, reject it. We are responsible for knowing what is acceptable in His eyes. We all sin and fall short of His glory, but it is up to each one of us to be in right standing with Him. Come before Him and repent. Learn of Him. Seek Him in all things. And be like David who said in Psalm 19: 12-13, “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back your servant from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, And I shall be innocent of great transgression.” Trust in Him and He will direct your path. Blessings.