Balaam Numbers 22 to 24
Posted by adventbiblestudy on November 30, 2015
Balaam Numbers 22 to 24
Numbers 22:11-13 NLTse ‘Look, a vast horde of people has arrived from Egypt, and they cover the face of the earth. Come and curse these people for me. Then perhaps I will be able to stand up to them and drive them from the land.'” (12) But God told Balaam, “Do not go with them. You are not to curse these people, for they have been blessed!” (13) The next morning Balaam got up and told Balak’s officials, “Go on home! The LORD will not let me go with you.”
I’m not about to go over the entire story about Balaam verse by verse. You can handle that yourself. A few stories in these three chapters show how God used Balaam as a contrast to the type of priest God was looking to serve along side Him. But sometimes Balaam was an example showing what God’s priests should be. Isn’t God amazing, the way He had Moses record both the good and bad in this series of stores about Balaam?
When we know how God teaches, we know we have to look for a number of lessons. When I chose the scripture to look at from this series of stories, it was easy to see Moses recorded a contrast to learn from. In this series of books, we’ve seen lesson after lesson teaching Aaron, his sons, and the entire camp what priests should be. Obviously Balaam acted in a way contrary to what God had been teaching Israel. Another place we need to look for a lesson is in the chapter leading up to this story. The last few verses in chapter 21 give us a quick summary to look at.
Numbers 21:31-35 NLTse So the people of Israel occupied the territory of the Amorites. (32) After Moses sent men to explore the Jazer area, they captured all the towns in the region and drove out the Amorites who lived there. (33) Then they turned and marched up the road to Bashan, but King Og of Bashan and all his people attacked them at Edrei. (34) The LORD said to Moses, “Do not be afraid of him, for I have handed him over to you, along with all his people and his land. Do the same to him as you did to King Sihon of the Amorites, who ruled in Heshbon.” (35) And Israel killed King Og, his sons, and all his subjects; not a single survivor remained. Then Israel occupied their land.
We can see how God gave Israel a number of conquests over one nation after another. This goes back to the story when those twelve spies returned from scouting out the promised land. Ten told the people the land was defended by giants and it would be suicide to to go in. Two of those spies tried to convince the people to go it, God would deliver their enemies no matter how strong they appeared. Israel decided to believe the majority of the spies. They refused to go forward. They refused to trust the two spies and God. This upset God, so He told them everyone over the age of forty were going to die on the wilderness. God gave them a taste of what they could have accomplished by defeating one nation after another. After that, it was time for another lesson.
This time it was Balak who worried. He looked at Israel as a vast horde pf people he couldn’t possibly stop. News traveled fast through the region. Especially news about an army conquering one nation after another. We know Balak heard about Israel for quite some time based on the fact, he knew Israel came from Egypt.
Balak must of heard stories about what happened in Egypt. He must have heard about all the plagues, famines, and how Egypt lost its army in the Red Sea. Stories may have been changed and some must have been exaggerated. At any point, Balak knew he was fighting a God. He just didn’t understand who he was up against. So Balak did what most people would have done. Balak called the best known priest in the area. The problem was, Balak made up his mind what to do before he sent for Balaam.
It doesn’t matter if Balaam was a pagan priest, or someone who actually knew something about God, or a mixture in between. From the story we see, God spoke to Balaam. If Balak had an open mind at any point in this story, things could have turned out differently. Balak’s first chance to learn about God was when he heard stories about Israel. What held Balak back from learning more at that point? Balak could have went out to meet Israel while they approached his land. Balak could have asked Balaam what to do. Based on the fact God spoke to Balaam, we know God had a message ready for Balak if he was willing to listen.
God’s first message to Balaam was to stay put. Balaam was told not to go to Balak. That’s because Balak needed to learn how to move when it was time for him to move. But Balak was like those masters in Egypt who expected people to prepare everything and bring it to him. It was a status symbol. God had to knock Balak down a few notches before he was capable of listening.
Balak Increases His Offer
Numbers 22:16-20 NLTse They went to Balaam and delivered this message to him: “This is what Balak son of Zippor says: Please don’t let anything stop you from coming to help me. (17) I will pay you very well and do whatever you tell me. Just come and curse these people for me!” (18) But Balaam responded to Balak’s messengers, “Even if Balak were to give me his palace filled with silver and gold, I would be powerless to do anything against the will of the LORD my God. (19) But stay here one more night, and I will see if the LORD has anything else to say to me.” (20) That night God came to Balaam and told him, “Since these men have come for you, get up and go with them. But do only what I tell you to do.”
Isn’t this the way it usually goes? First people try to impress with their prestige. If that doesn’t work, they turn to their money. This instantly tells us where Balak put his trust. But this time it didn’t seem to get him anywhere.
It seems God had Balak where he needed him. Balak is teaching us a lesson. In God’s order, kings are subject to the prophet. We see that order in many of those stories in the books of Kings and Chronicles. This is one of the first clear examples. When we look back, we can see how Pharaoh should have learned that lesson. God is also showing us details we’ve missed.
This time God told Balaam to go with them. For some reason God sent Balaam to Balak. We can find examples in Kings and Chronicles when God sent prophets to other kings. Moses also went into Pharaoh’s court. It’s not unusual for prophets to make the first move. This shows how God is willing to make the first move, then see what the reaction will be.
Another detail we have to look at is the quick timing in the sequence of events. God made his decision known in one night. When we look at key words involving time in this series of stories, we see how quickly it moves. God could have delayed His decision to give Israel more time for an armed response. But that wasn’t God’s plan. The sequence of previous stories showed how God delivered a quick succession of victories, but in this story God decided to handle the situation in a totally different way. Rules of context tells us to look at sequences, then breaks in that sequence. That is a flashing light telling us to pay attention to the new lesson.
Balaam and His Donkey
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 the LORD 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.
This sequence of stories continued with an account of Balaam’s journey to Balak where Balaam experienced a series of problems. When we look deeper at the lessons in this story, we can look at the people and donkey involved, or we can look at how details are related. So far we’ve been following details while allowing those details to identify and define symbols.
We’ve seen how quickly God made decisions. We’ve seen how God made Balak wait. New delays served a two fold purpose. They made Balak and Balaam wait. Neither one knew what to do. Both needed time to think.
We see two new characters introduced to this story. Balaam’s donkey who suddenly developed the ability to speak, and an angel. Quite a strange combination. Another rule of context tells us to pay attention to strange details. When we see them in pairs, we have no choice but to compare them.
It appears a donkey and angel are an obvious contrast. That seems too easy to point to the main lesson. That contrast seems to open doors for a human interpretation, which we prefer to stay away from. The next step is to look at what the donkey and angel have in common. They both talked at the same time. Why? It seems Balaam wasn’t about to listen to his donkey, so the angel had to step in. At this point we can ask if the donkey represented Balaam talking to Balak. In one way it may be. But we know we shouldn’t place our own interpretations on any word in scripture. Otherwise we would be like Balaam.
We also see a comparison between Balaam and Balak. Both were very stubborn men. Both wanted their way. Balaam hadn’t received his money yet, so he couldn’t play the part of a rich man flaunting his money. And trying to pay off a donkey or angel wouldn’t have gotten Balaam anywhere. The more we get into this story, the stranger it appears. If we didn’t follow the proper sequence of study, we’d miss the majority of lessons.
Moses pointed out the fact, it took a while for the donkey to see the angel. First the donkey saw the angel. Then the donkey spoke. After that, God opened Balaam’s eyes and he could see the angel. Why did God use that sequence? If Balaam could have learned anything from that sequence, he should have seen how he had to see God and understand the message before he could become an effective witness.
Sometimes we’re given messages to deliver. More often than not, we don’t understand what the message means. But we’re still required to deliver it. Then after we see the results and take a little time to think about the entire sequence of events, and the reaction, the message and its purpose becomes clear. Once we go through that process a few times, our faith grows. We become willing to follow instructions as quickly as God revealed His decisions. These stories show how much Balaam needed to learn about God. One of the lessons we need to take from this lesson and apply to our own walk with God.
After another warning to say only what God told Balaam to say, the journey continued. Another very important lesson. That’s why we see it repeated. Not only did Balaam need to hear it again, millions of people after Balaam needed to hear that message.
Another lesson we should see here is how God doesn’t give up. If we don’t listen to one message, God will do the unexpected to make sure we listen. That’s just the way God works.
Balaam Meets Balak
Numbers 22:36-41 NLTse When King Balak heard that Balaam was on the way, he went out to meet him at a Moabite town on the Arnon River at the farthest border of his land. (37) “Didn’t I send you an urgent invitation? Why didn’t you come right away?” Balak asked Balaam. “Didn’t you believe me when I said I would reward you richly?” (38) Balaam replied, “Look, now I have come, but I have no power to say whatever I want. I will speak only the message that God puts in my mouth.” (39) Then Balaam accompanied Balak to Kiriath-huzoth, (40) where the king sacrificed cattle and sheep. He sent portions of the meat to Balaam and the officials who were with him. (41) The next morning Balak took Balaam up to Bamoth-baal. From there he could see some of the people of Israel spread out below him.
The first thing we see is Balak’s lack of patients. We can see Balak was thinking about his way of solving the problem he faced. We see Balak wanted to stick to his plan. When we compare this to how Balaam reacted to his donkey, we see another parallel between Balak and Balaam.
We do see Balak went out to meet Balaam. But why? God was busy trying to get Balak to move. But when Balak did move, it was to put his plan into action. We see Balak’s move showed us how much Balak worried about that army approaching his border.
The conversation started out with Balak stating the urgency of his request. Balak threw in a quick reminder of his riches and power. Balaam’s response took Balak by surprise. “Look, now I have come, but I have no power to say whatever I want. I will speak only the message that God puts in my mouth.” Balak didn’t respond, but took Balaam to Kiriath-huzoth where he initiated the first step in his plan by sacrificing cattle and sheep. Then Balak sent portions of the meat to Balaam and the officials who were with him.
We’re not told who Balak sacrificed those cattle and sheep to. Was it to other gods? Was Balak sacrificing to idols? We can’t be sure, but did Balaam accept meat from animals sacrificed to idols?
God Met With Balaam
Numbers 23:1-12 NLTse Then Balaam said to King Balak, “Build me seven altars here, and prepare seven young bulls and seven rams for me to sacrifice.” (2) Balak followed his instructions, and the two of them sacrificed a young bull and a ram on each altar. (3) Then Balaam said to Balak, “Stand here by your burnt offerings, and I will go to see if the LORD will respond to me. Then I will tell you whatever he reveals to me.” So Balaam went alone to the top of a bare hill, (4) and God met him there. Balaam said to him, “I have prepared seven altars and have sacrificed a young bull and a ram on each altar.” (5) The LORD gave Balaam a message for King Balak. Then he said, “Go back to Balak and give him my message.” (6) So Balaam returned and found the king standing beside his burnt offerings with all the officials of Moab. (7) This was the message Balaam delivered: “Balak summoned me to come from Aram; the king of Moab brought me from the eastern hills. ‘Come,’ he said, ‘curse Jacob for me! Come and announce Israel’s doom.’ (8) But how can I curse those whom God has not cursed? How can I condemn those whom the LORD has not condemned? (9) I see them from the cliff tops; I watch them from the hills. I see a people who live by themselves, set apart from other nations. (10) Who can count Jacob’s descendants, as numerous as dust? Who can count even a fourth of Israel’s people? Let me die like the righteous; let my life end like theirs.” (11) Then King Balak demanded of Balaam, “What have you done to me? I brought you to curse my enemies. Instead, you have blessed them!” (12) But Balaam replied, “I will speak only the message that the LORD puts in my mouth.”
At first only king Balak sacrificed animals. Now we see Balak and Balaam sacrificing animals. Based on previous chapters, we know God only wanted priests to carry out sacrifices. Why didn’t Balaam know this? We could assume, Balaam wasn’t in the camp when Moses taught those lesson. But Balaam was supposed to be a priest. Wouldn’t God have taught Balaam the same procedures He taught Moses? Doesn’t God have the ability to teach Balaam like He taught Moses?
We see God met with Balaam. Why didn’t God straighten out Balaam on the spot? We see when Balaam met God, he told God about the sacrifices he offered. It was like Balaam didn’t think God knew. This shows how little Balaam understood God. After Balaam assured God sacrifices were offered, God ignored Balaam’s statement and got right to the point. We can see, Balaam was more of a messenger than a priest. Balaam certainly wasn’t a prophet. Since the main role of a prophet is to lead people to God, Balaam would have put all his efforts into reaching Balak by working with God. There are dozens of things Balaam could have done to lead Balak to God. Balaam could have reviewed all the stories Balak heard about Israel and with a little help from the Spirit, explained each of those events to make an everlasting impression on Balak. What we saw in this story was how the subject of money kept coming up. It seems Balaam tried fighting the temptation, but didn’t get very far. Balak impressed Balaam with his riches, and Balaam tried impressing God with seven altars and seven sacrifices. Balaam showed, even when it comes to talking with God, we are restricted by our desires, where our heart is, and what we know.
Since most people are confused on the subject, this seems like a good place to review spiritual gifts. There are many different types of spiritual gifts. Moses was given the gift of prophecy. His main goal was to lead people back to God. That’s illustrated in the fact, Moses led about a million people on a journey to the promised land. That has got to be one of the easiest symbols to understand.
Aaron was high priest. You’ll notice Paul didn’t mention priest as a spiritual gift. You might want to ask God why. Based on previous chapters in this book, we’ve seen how Jesus died to put an end to the Levitical priesthood. In its place, Paul offered a number of spiritual gifts. Most people focus on pastor mention in Ephesians chapter 4. The only place the word pastors is mentioned in the New Testament. Paul never described or defined what a pastor is or does. Because pastor is not repeated, it is not a key word. But that never stopped people from focusing on it and making it a key word. And placing all kinds of personal interpretations on it.
It should seem strange to people that Paul didn’t mention a word about pastors in 1 Corinthians. But people seldom notice details missing between stories and lessons covering the same subject. When we look at a small part of Paul’s explanation of the spiritual gifts, we see the main point Paul was focusing on.
A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. (1 Corinthians 12:7-10 NLTse).
To understand Paul’s main point all we need to do is focus in on key words Paul repeated. In this case Paul used similar words focusing on the fact spiritual gifts are given so we can help each other. Paul followed up the word help with faith, healing, and miracles. Since Balaam only exhibited the gift of messages, we should focus our attention in that area. But the main point all the spiritual gifts have in common is the ability to help each other.
Balaam knew something about God. He must have. Balak, and I’m sure other people looked at Balaam as a priest and a prophet. We see another lesson here. Just because people claim a title, office, or spiritual gift, doesn’t mean they have that gift. Somehow Balaam was able to convince people he was on top of his game. That is a serious issues all of us should consider. Paul added another detail or gift people should have.
If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! (1 Corinthians 13:2-8 NLTse).
We have to ask if we can see Balaam exhibiting the gift of love during his encounter with Balak. As we progress through this story, we see how God’s messages slowly introduced that love. It is like taking someone out of total darkness. If you gave them a full does of light, that light would leave them as blind as they were before. Let’s see how God approached the situation.
Balak Begins to Compromise
Numbers 23:13-26 NLTse Then King Balak told him, “Come with me to another place. There you will see another part of the nation of Israel, but not all of them. Curse at least that many!” (14) So Balak took Balaam to the plateau of Zophim on Pisgah Peak. He built seven altars there and offered a young bull and a ram on each altar. (15) Then Balaam said to the king, “Stand here by your burnt offerings while I go over there to meet the LORD.” (16) And the LORD met Balaam and gave him a message. Then he said, “Go back to Balak and give him my message.” (17) So Balaam returned and found the king standing beside his burnt offerings with all the officials of Moab. “What did the LORD say?” Balak asked eagerly. (18) This was the message Balaam delivered: “Rise up, Balak, and listen! Hear me, son of Zippor. (19) God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through? (20) Listen, I received a command to bless; God has blessed, and I cannot reverse it! (21) No misfortune is in his plan for Jacob; no trouble is in store for Israel. For the LORD their God is with them; he has been proclaimed their king. (22) God brought them out of Egypt; for them he is as strong as a wild ox. (23) No curse can touch Jacob; no magic has any power against Israel. For now it will be said of Jacob, ‘What wonders God has done for Israel!’ (24) These people rise up like a lioness, like a majestic lion rousing itself. They refuse to rest until they have feasted on prey, drinking the blood of the slaughtered!” (25) Then Balak said to Balaam, “Fine, but if you won’t curse them, at least don’t bless them!” (26) But Balaam replied to Balak, “Didn’t I tell you that I can do only what the LORD tells me?”
Balak didn’t get the answer he wanted to hear, so he decided to go to another location, and see if he could get Balaam to start off by cursing a few Israelites. Balak and Balaam also thought offering a few extra bulls might have helped. After all, if they gained God’s favor, maybe they could have turned Him against Israel. That was the plan.
That was the problem throughout this story. Balak had his mind made up. He knew what he wanted to do and was willing to anything to accomplish his goal. His mind wasn’t open to any suggestions or other solutions. Kind of sounds a lot like Christianity today. Churches made up their minds to stand against other churches. They may not go as far as asking God to curse them like Balak did., but they do spend a great amount of time criticizing other churches, and teaching members to mistrust and hate those other churches. Isn’t hate the opposite of love?
Maybe that’s why churches today have such a difficult time exhibiting spiritual gifts. When they’re supposed be supporting each other, great amounts of time and money are wasted trying to tear apart the competition. Can you see that lesson in this story about Balak and Balaam?
Sure churches may teach about spiritual gifts and claim to have all the answers. But this story showed how Balaam was able to convince people he had gifts and power, but when put to the test, showed how inadequate he was.
Balaam didn’t seem to catch on to what God was doing. A real prophet would have worked along side God to make the most of the situation. In this case, we see Balaam following orders, but nothing showing us his heart was in it. What is missing? When we look back to examples when Moses needed God’s help, we saw how Moses pleaded with God. That was the pattern Moses worked out with God. Remember, God called Moses a friend.
That doesn’t mean we should all copy the procedure Moses used word for word. As a matter of fact, Moses used different approaches. But for the most part followed a simple pattern. “Okay God, we have another problem. What should we do?” Of course what he meant was, God had the plan and Moses followed instructions. They were a team. On every team one person leads, and calls the plays. Others follow their assignments.
We see another pattern. Balaam told Balak to stay where he was while he went alone to talk to God. Why didn’t Balaam want Balak to meet God? We saw how Israel was afraid to talk to God, but why do we see another angle to that story here?
Moses would have never stopped anyone from meeting God. On the other hand, deep down inside, Balaam was so unsure of his abilities and relationship with God, he didn’t want Balak around while he met with God. Why didn’t Balak insist on going with Balaam? Balak must have shared part of that fear that kept Israel away from God.
Notice how God began each of His messages. God told Balaam to go back to Balak. That was almost the same as telling Balaam to bring Balak up to meet Him. Was Balaam telling Balak to listen to himself or God? Who should have Balaam been telling Balak to listen to?
You can see God patiently waiting for Balaam to take the right direction. Where was Balaam’s personal testimony? Maybe it wasn’t the right time for it. And maybe Balaam was supposed to tell Balak about the angel he saw on the road and how his donkey was talking to him. After all, isn’t that the kind of news you would find difficult not to share?
God’s message was in a language Balak could understand. It was a message of love in terms Balak should have been ready for. But like so many people, that message can be repulsive. Or they hear the message and don’t know how to apply it. Balak was told how God cared for Israel and what God already did for Israel. Was it up to Balak to figure out that help and care was open to him? But not on the conditions Balak set for himself.
One More Attempt to Curse Israel
Numbers 23:27-30 NLTse Then King Balak said to Balaam, “Come, I will take you to one more place. Perhaps it will please God to let you curse them from there.” (28) So Balak took Balaam to the top of Mount Peor, overlooking the wasteland. (29) Balaam again told Balak, “Build me seven altars, and prepare seven young bulls and seven rams for me to sacrifice.” (30) So Balak did as Balaam ordered and offered a young bull and a ram on each altar.
Balak didn’t have a lot of imagination. He tried the same steps again, hoping God would change His mind. Balak didn’t see how God’s love was big enough for Israel and himself. He had no idea who he was sacrificing all those animals to.
Balaam Opened His Eyes
Numbers 24:1-13 NLTse By now Balaam realized that the LORD was determined to bless Israel, so he did not resort to divination as before. Instead, he turned and looked out toward the wilderness, (2) where he saw the people of Israel camped, tribe by tribe. Then the Spirit of God came upon him, (3) and this is the message he delivered: “This is the message of Balaam son of Beor, the message of the man whose eyes see clearly, (4) the message of one who hears the words of God, who sees a vision from the Almighty, who bows down with eyes wide open: (5) How beautiful are your tents, O Jacob; how lovely are your homes, O Israel! (6) They spread before me like palm groves, like gardens by the riverside. They are like tall trees planted by the LORD, like cedars beside the waters. (7) Water will flow from their buckets; their offspring have all they need. Their king will be greater than Agag; their kingdom will be exalted. (8) God brought them out of Egypt; for them he is as strong as a wild ox. He devours all the nations that oppose him, breaking their bones in pieces, shooting them with arrows. (9) Like a lion, Israel crouches and lies down; like a lioness, who dares to arouse her? Blessed is everyone who blesses you, O Israel, and cursed is everyone who curses you.” (10) King Balak flew into a rage against Balaam. He angrily clapped his hands and shouted, “I called you to curse my enemies! Instead, you have blessed them three times. (11) Now get out of here! Go back home! I promised to reward you richly, but the LORD has kept you from your reward.” (12) Balaam told Balak, “Don’t you remember what I told your messengers? I said, (13) ‘Even if Balak were to give me his palace filled with silver and gold, I would be powerless to do anything against the will of the LORD.’ I told you that I could say only what the LORD says!
As soon as we look at these texts, we see it mentions time. That mention of time points out when Balaam began to change. His eyes began to open. Moses told us, Balaam resorted to divination before that time. Does that mean those sacrifices were part of divination?
Moses didn’t record a lot of details about divination. It should be obvious why he left out those details. After we saw how little Balaam understood about God, there was no time to waste explaining what we’re better off not knowing. It is more important to stick to the basic essentials and leave the deceptive details to others.
It only took a moment of understanding for God’s Spirit to cover Balaam. Let’s take a minute to open our eyes to how Moses emphasized this point. Look at the three words related to time, now, before, and then. Their order tells the story of a spiritual movement. Now look at how many times Moses repeated words related to seeing or vision. This is a great example showing how sight or vision relates to spiritual understanding.
Let’s look at how Moses reacted to Jethro’s visit. Moses told his father-in-law all the details about Egypt. Moses saw those details first hand and therefore was a witness. Although Balaam wasn’t in Egypt and didn’t see all those events, Balak opened that same door when he requested Balaam’s presence. Balaam was given his own personal witness. God gave his donkey the ability to talk and sent an angel to talk to Balaam to arrange a brand new personal witness to share. Not as amazing as what happened in Egypt, but it was exactly what Balak needed to hear. But Balaam was not concerned with reaching out to Balak, so he missed that opportunity. Balaam was missing the most important ingredient, love.
I’m sure each of you have missed dozens or even hundreds of opportunities to witness. I have to look at the world scene today as a joke the world is playing on itself. There is a war between radical factions many European nations are turning into a religious war. After all, when we look at historical facts, we see their experience in fighting religious wars. Maybe it’s in their genes, or the way their taught. God always works with people where they are and with what little light the accept. God can’t give them too much light, because they are in such a state of spiritual darkness, too much light would blind them. All the prophets today are predicting one thing. Details differ, but the outcome is the same. The problems is, the vast majority of their proof texts comes from scripture explaining events during the last seven plagues. If they ever read their Bibles, they’d see the last seven plagues begin after Jesus finishes judging the world. And this is part of the problem. About half the modern day prophets will fight any thought or statement on the judgment with their last dying breath. It doesn’t fit the rest of their theology which is based on making money. They are just like Balaam. God gave them a personal testimony they prefer to ignore.
God is working with this world on the most basic, fundamental level anyone could imagine. I feel this may be the last warning to the world before Jesus begins judging the living. That is a very serious matter and if we know God, we’ll know how God will try to reach this world in quick succession on many different levels. One of them is weather. Here in the north central US, we’ve been seeing snow storms forming in the south and traveling north. You can look at radar images and see how it appears the world has been turned upside down. God is also reaching put, opening doors in a big way with seventy million refugees those wars produced.
If you listen, you can hear God and all the angels in Heaven cheering when they hear world leaders standing up to say they are a Christian nation. Especially with all the events happening and judgment of the living fast approaching. Jesus is looking for some kind of sign so He can say He knows them.
For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. “You parents–if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him. “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets. “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it. “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’ “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. (Matthew 7:8-24 NLTse).
God is making it as easy as He possibly can. Nations claim they know Christ, so God in His infinite wisdom gave them power to prove their claims. God sent them millions of people in need. But what did those self proclaimed Christian nations do? The first thing they did was looked at the crowds and said, “this is too hard for us.” They questioned how they were going to feed,.cloth, and care for those millions of people. Those idiots knew they didn’t have the resources or power themselves to complete the task, but did any of those self proclaimed Christians turn to God for advice, an answer, or help? No! Not one of them turned to God. Not one of them listened to God’s Spirit. They were just like Balaam and Balak. They had a plan all their own and refused to budge. They refused to listen to God.
If any of those leaders would take ten minutes to listen to God, they could open their eyes to see how God provided everything for the refugees Moses led through the wilderness. They’d been walking around the wilderness for over two years before those nations began closing their borders. Those nations missed the greatest opportunity in the history of the world. Those nations could have witnessed God’s miracles first hand when God send manna from Heaven, and made water flow where no one has ever seen it before. And they could have listened to stories about Egypt from first hand eyewitness accounts. But one after another, those nations turned those refugees away.
The same exact things is happening today. So called religious leaders refuse to listen to God. Like Balaam, they claim to be great priests and greater prophets. Jesus said, “I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.” What laws do you think Jesus was referring to? Wasn’t Jesus including the laws of the prophets and laws of context? Laws of the prophets not only demand all prophets explain exactly how God spoke to them, those laws also show us, the first role of a prophet is to lead people back to God. Not make up interpretations to prophecies, or explain current events. That’s God’s role. Send people back to God and He will explain how those events effect each individual life. There is no way a human prophet can do that. No human prophet has ever been given the ability to be in all places at all times. They like to act like they have that vision, but can they prove it?
Some people are in need of aid, and God knows exactly where to send them. God knows exactly how to prepare that aid, where, and when it will be required. God has the ability to prepare some people to bring food, others will provide water, some will provide the right kind of psychological counseling and support, others moral counseling, and others simple, personal, spiritual support. No prophet was ever given all those abilities. Jesus explained that in another parable He taught about this subject.
“But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’ “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’ “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’ “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31-46 NLTse).
If prophets taught people one little law of context and sent them back to God, the people they taught would be like Balaam, and begin to open their eyes to see the full truth of the matter. They could learn to listen, and deliver the right messages at the proper time. If those modern day prophets knew how to lead people to God, they’d know how God would deal with them, and they would pray God would use them in an effective manner. Not the negative picture they are spreading today. All those self proclaimed prophets have to teach people is how to listen to God, and read the full story in scripture. One simple, basic law of context.
Just those few sections of scripture sum up what is happening today. But how many people stop long enough to see the prophetic details in simple parables they learned as a child? God knows, that’s as far as they progressed. So God has no other choice but to meet them at a childlike level and work from there. God also wants to review stories about that wilderness journey to show how He provided food, water, and made it so their clothing and sandals would not wear out. God would remind them, all of this was done for His glory. God doesn’t expect them to perform miracles. God will take care of those details. God will look over and set up every detail. And God is waiting to perform miracles beyond our imaginations.
Those world leaders are engrossed in solving problems with that invading force. They placed themselves in the same position Balak did. World leaders have a plan and refuse to budge. Their lack of patients blinded them. They are seeking after personal glory and concerned about personal wealth. Just like Balak was. No wonder they can’t understand or see the obvious answer. If they got off their high horses, went through open doors to help refugees today, and let God perform the miracles He has planned, don’t you think that would be enough of a world event to make those radicals stop and think for a moment? At least it would put an end to their so far successful recruitment efforts.
World leaders have to stop closing their eyes to the obvious solution and take the first step forward by showing a little faith in God. And Jesus who is about to judge them based on their actions today.
When Balaam finally opened his eyes, he saw how God blessed Israel. More importantly, Balaam saw how God will continue to bless Israel in war and peace. This is the first sign Balaam showed of being a prophet. Notice how Moses recorded exactly how Balaam received that vision and message. He turned and looked out toward the wilderness, where he saw the people of Israel camped, tribe by tribe. Then the Spirit of God came upon him, and this is the message he delivered:
When Moses recorded this story, he followed the laws of the prophets before Jeremiah recorded them. When we look at that message, we can see how it covered past, present, and future. In other words, the full story. How many people have their eyes open wide enough to see that simple details? I’m sure once you compare this to messages from modern day prophets, you’ll see a drastic difference.
Balaam didn’t receive any sort of detailed account of how God was going to accomplish all those blessings. But neither did Balaam fill in any of the details about how God delivered Israel from Egypt. Once we know the laws of the prophets, we know exactly why. God is opening doors for other people to work with Him. Other people have to take care of details. God never sets up a situation for one person to handle all the details. Moses often needed people like Aaron, his sons, and Joshua to do something to move the messages and lessons in a forward direction. That is another detail few people see.
Balaam’s Prophetic Vision
Numbers 24:14-25 NLTse Now I am returning to my own people. But first let me tell you what the Israelites will do to your people in the future.” (15) This is the message Balaam delivered: “This is the message of Balaam son of Beor, the message of the man whose eyes see clearly, (16) the message of one who hears the words of God, who has knowledge from the Most High, who sees a vision from the Almighty, who bows down with eyes wide open: (17) I see him, but not here and now. I perceive him, but far in the distant future. A star will rise from Jacob; a scepter will emerge from Israel. It will crush the foreheads of Moab’s people, cracking the skulls of the people of Sheth. (18) Edom will be taken over, and Seir, its enemy, will be conquered, while Israel marches on in triumph. (19) A ruler will rise in Jacob who will destroy the survivors of Ir.” (20) Then Balaam looked over toward the people of Amalek and delivered this message: “Amalek was the greatest of nations, but its destiny is destruction!” (21) Then he looked over toward the Kenites and delivered this message: “Your home is secure; your nest is set in the rocks. (22) But the Kenites will be destroyed when Assyria takes you captive.” (23) Balaam concluded his messages by saying: “Alas, who can survive unless God has willed it? (24) Ships will come from the coasts of Cyprus; they will oppress Assyria and afflict Eber, but they, too, will be utterly destroyed.” (25) Then Balaam and Balak returned to their homes.
It’s not very hard to see how important this part of the message is. Moses repeated the sequence Balaam had to go through. He had to see, understand, receive a message, and deliver it. That’s the way it’s always been with God’s prophets. Balaam not only had to learn, but follow that procedure. This shows God will use prophets who claim the prophetic gift, but have no idea what it is, how it works, or how to use it. Another type of a miracle when you think about it.
What seems strange about this prophecy today is, all those nations mentioned in the prophecy are located east of the dead sea. Today all those nations are know as Jordan, an Islamic state. This is what makes this prophecy strange compared to today’s events.
Jordan is one of the few countries opening it’s borders to refugees in the Middle East. They aren’t a rich country. Their gross national product is less than the twelve richest Americans today. But they decided to open their borders and help those refugees any way they can. Doesn’t that seem strange when we see much richer countries turning away refugees because they don’t know how to pay for services? Why would the combination of nations cursed by Balaam, because they wouldn’t allow refugees Moses led pass through their borders, open their borders thousands of yeas later? Is there something there for us to see?
Balaam was given the privilege of delivering a two part prophecy about Jesus the Messiah. Why would God allow such a defunct prophet to deliver those messages? Why at this time? In previous chapters we’ve asked why Moses didn’t explained what any of the symbols in the Tabernacle pointed to. Now we see Balaam giving the first indication of what the Tabernacle and its symbols pointed to. That may seem strange to us, but I’m sure God had His reasons for recording it this way. Maybe it was to show how He works with people, and rewards them at the right time, in the right way. Maybe it was to encourage future generations dedicating themselves to understanding. We all know, the more understanding we receive, the more our lives seem to be in conflict with God. The enemy is quick to use that against us every chance he gets. Then Satan puts the world in conflict with us. God knows that. So He carefully placed bits and pieces of encouragement in just the right places. When we think of it, the way God encouraged Balaam also helps to encourage and reward us.
A study on a prophecy Jesus fulfilled would not be complete without locating New Testament texts explaining the fulfillment. The two symbols are star and scepter.
Matthew 2:1-2 NLTse Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, (2) “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”
2 Peter 1:19 NLTse Because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place–until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts.
Revelation 22:16 NLTse “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this message for the churches. I am both the source of David and the heir to his throne. I am the bright morning star.”
Hebrews 1:8 NLTse But to the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever. You rule with a scepter of justice.
We see there was a good reason for Jesus to constantly point religious leaders and His disciples to scripture. Jesus was not only pointing them to prophecies He was about to fulfill, but to texts explaining how to understand scripture. Jesus knew the religious leaders of His day had no idea how to interpret prophesy. Jesus pointed them to the keys, but their pride and self absorbed attitudes kept them from learning anything. After more than two thousand years, Jewish leaders still reject every bit of information Jesus gave them. To a large degree, Christian leaders choose to mix simple study principles from God’s Word with mistakes the Pharisees made. (Prophecies Revealing the Messiah: Genesis Through Numbers – Chapter 9) You can see that book for detailed examples explaining how to locate the fulfillment of prophecies.
We see how Moses constantly repeated the word message, and other related words. This is to emphasis the point, you need to look up the recorded fulfillment to get the whole message. How do you plan on understanding anything with half the information? Don’t forget, the fulfillment God had recorded is just as inspired as the prophecy itself.