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Numbers 24:2-9 Balaam Looks Out Over Israel

Posted by adventbiblestudy on March 6, 2013


Study methods explained. Bible stories, studies with links between Old and New Testament texts.

Learning about prophecies fulfilled shows how to understand all scripture.

Numbers 24:2-9 MKJV And Balaam lifted up his eyes, and he saw Israel pitched, according to their tribes. And the Spirit of God came upon him. (3) And he took up his parable, and said,Balaam the son of Beor has said, and the man whose eyes are open has said; (4) he has said; he who heard the words of God, who saw the vision of the Almighty, falling down but having his eyes open; (5) How goodly are your tents, O Jacob, your tabernacles, O Israel! (6) They are spread forth like the valleys, like gardens by the river’s side, like the trees of aloes which Jehovah has planted, like cedar trees beside the waters. (7) He shall pour the water out of his buckets, and his seed shall be in many waters. And his king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted. (8) God brought him forth out of Egypt. He has as it were the strength of an ox. He shall eat up the nations, his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with his arrows. (9) He crouched. He lay down as a lion, and as a great lion. Who shall stir him up? Blessed is he who blesses you, and cursed is he who curses you.

The prophecies about Jesus build one upon another. Lessons taught in previous prophecies about Jesus are used to interpret the symbols used here. We know they are symbols here because the author explains Balaam took up, or was shown a parable. This parable mentions the word eyes three times. Since this is a parable, they symbols point to a much greater fulfillment explained only by finding the spiritual meaning in other parts if the Bible.

The first key word to investigate is eyes. It is always a good idea to begin a search within the same chapter and book, paying considerable attention to the same story to see how the author led into this portion of the lesson.

Numbers 22:27-35 NLTse This time when the donkey saw the angel, it lay down under Balaam. In a fit of rage Balaam beat the animal again with his staff. (28) Then the LORD gave the donkey the ability to speak. “What have I done to you that deserves your beating me three times?” it asked Balaam. (29) “You have made me look like a fool!” Balaam shouted. “If I had a sword with me, I would kill you!” (30) “But I am the same donkey you have ridden all your life,” the donkey answered. “Have I ever done anything like this before?” “No,” Balaam admitted. (31) Then theLORD opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the roadway with a drawn sword in his hand. Balaam bowed his head and fell face down on the ground before him. (32) “Why did you beat your donkey those three times?” the angel of the LORD demanded. “Look, I have come to block your way because you are stubbornly resisting me. (33) Three times the donkey saw me and shied away; otherwise, I would certainly have killed you by now and spared the donkey.” (34) Then Balaam confessed to the angel of the LORD, “I have sinned. I didn’t realize you were standing in the road to block my way. I will return home if you are against my going.” (35) But the angel of the LORD told Balaam, “Go with these men, but say only what I tell you to say.” So Balaam went on with Balak’s officials.

We can see how previous texts explain exactly what is happening in this part of the story. The author explained how a donkey was able to see God’s angel standing in the road, but Balaam could not. God gave the animal the ability to speak. Before that happened, the donkey had the ability to see much more than Balaam, who some people thought had superior vision, insight and wisdom. Maybe Balak’s officials should have sought the insight of the donkey?

Numbers 22 also explains why Balaam said he was, “falling down but having his eyes open,” in chapter 24. Balaam is referring to bowing his head and falling face down on the ground before God’s angel. At that point Balaam saw where he had gone wrong. If we go back a little further we find how Balaam was promised a large sum of money to curse Israel. One reason Balaam could not see clearly was greed blinded him. God’s angel told Balaam to go ahead, but he will only say what he is told to say. Now we know chapter 24 is a revelation from God. Balaam’s eyes were open by God.

Was Balaam God’s prophet, or was he simply in the business as a prophet for profit? There is not much written about Balaam to know what kind of life he led before Balak called him to curse Israel. We are told what fate Balaam faced when God determined the right time. They attacked Midian as the LORD had commanded Moses, and they killed all the men. All five of the Midianite kings–Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba–died in the battle. They also killed Balaam son of Beor with the sword. (Numbers 31:7-8 NLTse). Balaam was able to enjoy his wealth for a time, but the price was higher then he estimated.

In this parable we see tents, and the Tabernacle referred to as trees. Usually trees represent people. But some of these branches from Abraham’s tree–some of the people of Israel–have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree. (Romans 11:17 NLTse).

We also see the word water repeated a number of times. The first time water is next to the tress, watering them. When we pay attention, we notice an unusual statement. “He shall pour the waterout of his buckets, and his seed shall be in many waters.” Notice water is being poured out of buckets. Water is usually put into buckets. Whenever something is unusual, it always points to a greater spiritual meaning. As we have already learned, water represents Christ and His message. Jesus and His Spirit are the water of life. We also see this parable tells us, “his seed shall be in many waters.” To find out whose seed, we look back at the introduction to the parable. “Balaam lifted up his eyes, and he saw Israel pitched.” This is referring to Israels’ seed in many waters, referring to Jesus’ disciples.

Israel’s exodus from Egypt is also included in the parable. When we look back at the exodus, we see the priesthood given to the the head of every household. The Passover restored this position before leaving Egypt. Later Moses reminded Israel about God’s plan. Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ This is the message you must give to the people of Israel.” (Exodus 19:5-6 NLTse). Later Israel changed their minds and turned down God’s offer. This parable refers to another kingdom in the future. But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen. (1 Peter 2:9, Revelation 1:6 NLTse).

We see the transformation in the twelve disciples and the seventy two Jesus chose and sent out. It was not God’s plan to chose only Levites to be priests on earth. God did not change His plans based on Israel’s choice, but only delayed it. Today we are still under God’s promise to be a Kingdom of priests. When Peter wrote this, the plan was already in effect. There were no ordained priests, no 4 or 6 year college degrees. Jesus sent His disciples, first twelve than seventy two out with no formal training. Jesus’ secret was trust in the Holy Spirit, the same plan in effect today. Its time to stop hiding behind worldly customs and believe what the Bible teaches. The world will not be saved by prophets fashioning their role in the plan of salvation after Balaam’s example.

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