From Numbers 23-25
In today’s chapter readings a donkey speaks to a man named Balaam. Balaam is not from Israel, but of another nation. However the LORD does speak through him and it seems he has successfully cursed their enemies to their benefit. The LORD however will not allow him to curse Israel. He blesses them every time. They even try moving around to see if different locations will have the desired effect (Nu 22.41; 23.13,27). They dont. The LORD will not allow Balaam to curse his people, he has only blessing for them.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
Balak spits the dummy.
10 And Balak’s anger was kindled against Balaam, and he struck his hands together. And Balak said to Balaam, “I called you to curse my enemies, and behold, you have blessed them these three times. 11 Therefore now flee to your own place. I said, ‘I will certainly honor you,’ but the LORD has held you back from honor.” (Nu 24:10–11)
Balak promised him a reward if he cursed Israel. Because he has only blessed them he will give him nothing.
What do you think it looks like to bless the LORD’s people?
12 And Balaam said to Balak, “Did I not tell your messengers whom you sent to me, 13 ‘If Balak should give me his house full of silver and gold, I would not be able to go beyond the word of the LORD, to do either good or bad of my own will. What the LORD speaks, that will I speak’? 14 And now, behold, I am going to my people. Come, I will let you know what this people will do to your people in the latter days.” (Nu 24:12–14)
Oh oh. Now it seems Balak’s plan has backfired. Balaam has blessed Israel, not he will predict the demise of Balak’s people.
15 And he took up his discourse and said,
“The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor,
the oracle of the man whose eye is opened,
16 the oracle of him who hears the words of God,
and knows the knowledge of the Most High,
who sees the vision of the Almighty,
falling down with his eyes uncovered:
17 I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not near:
a star shall come out of Jacob,
and a scepter shall rise out of Israel;
it shall crush the forehead of Moab
and break down all the sons of Sheth.
18 Edom shall be dispossessed;
Seir also, his enemies, shall be dispossessed.
Israel is doing valiantly.
19 And one from Jacob shall exercise dominion
and destroy the survivors of cities!” (Nu 24:15-19)
Balaam gives a brief description of his role. He hears the ‘words of God’. The LORD has given him knowledge and visions. He is actually fairly unique. He is not one of the LORD’s people. Yet the LORD still speaks to him and uses him.
In verse 17 Balaam predict the coming of a star and a scepter.
A star will come out of Jacob. He will be the king of the world.
This ruler shall smash the LORD’s enemies and take their land. Israel will exercise dominion. The LORD’s people will rule.
So far, so good. This is what he says about the other nations.
20 Then he looked on Amalek and took up his discourse and said,
“Amalek was the first among the nations,
but its end is utter destruction.”
21 And he looked on the Kenite, and took up his discourse and said,
“Enduring is your dwelling place,
and your nest is set in the rock.
22 Nevertheless, Kain shall be burned
when Asshur takes you away captive.” (Nu 24:20-22)
Utter destruction for the Amalekites (Ex 17.14; 1 Sam 15.3,8). And the Kenites although they reside in a very defendable location. They will be burned and taken away into exile. Israel will be bless and the LORD’s enemies defeated. But wait there is more.
23 And he took up his discourse and said,
“Alas, who shall live when God does this?
24 But ships shall come from Kittim
and shall afflict Asshur and Eber;
and he too shall come to utter destruction.”
25 Then Balaam rose and went back to his place. And Balak also went his way. (Nu 24:23-25)
This is the last we see of either of these guys. Its a strange short story which illustrates the blessings that come with being the LORD’s chosen people.
Story of Israel
A brief glimpse of Israel’s history will reveal they did nothing to deserve the LORD’s favour and his blessing. Israel is blessed because the LORD is with them.
Does the star Balaam predicted come?
We can’t be sure in the immediate future. Presumably these nations are destroyed. Some perhaps by Israel, others perhaps by other bigger and badder nations.
Story of Jesus
When Jesus was born, a star indicated where he was born. It also fulfilled the prophecy spoken by Balaam.
2 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
6 “ ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’ ”
7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” 9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. (Mt 2:1–11)
The star indicates that Jesus is the scepter. The promised Christ, the King. Before him all nations will bow.
Will you bow before Jesus when he comes again?
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2015. All Rights Reserved.