Numbers Chapter 24

At this point in the book of Numbers, the Israelites were encamped in the area of Moab. They were seen as a huge threat to those who were already established in the land around them. The leader of the land was Balak and he had sought the help of Balaam in cursing and destroying the strangers. Balaam had already told Balak that the people of Israel were blessed of God and would not be cursed, but that did not stop them from making sacrifices to God a second and third time in hopes that God would change his mind. You can read more about the first part of the story of Balaam and Balak, in Numbers 22 and 23. This chapter begins:

1 And when Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel, he went not, as at other times, to seek for enchantments, but he set his face toward the wilderness.
2 And Balaam lifted up his eyes, and he saw Israel abiding in his tents 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 hath said, and the man whose eyes are open hath said:
4 He hath said, which heard the words of God, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open:
5 How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel!
6 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.
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 hath as it were the strength of an unicorn: he shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with his arrows.
9 He couched, he lay down as a lion, and as a great lion: who shall stir him up? Blessed is he that blesseth thee, and cursed is he that curseth thee.

God had given Balaam the words to bless Israel twice already. He knew that God would not change his mind with this third attempt to curse the Israelites, so he stood towards the wilderness and saw the tents of the Israelites. God opened a vision to Balaam, where he saw the goodness of Israel. I can’t imagine just how grand the site of the hundreds of thousands of these migrating people organized into family tribes, with flags near their tents, surrounding the tabernacle. I think that for the time, it must have been a beautiful site. Balaam saw the greatness of the kingdom of Israel. The footnote for verse seven shows the Hebrew phrase, “Water shall flow from his branches.” This is such beautiful imagery for the growth of Israel and the idea that eventually, the Israelites would spread across the many waters. The king of Israel, would be greater then king Agag of the Amalekites. He saw them destroy their enemy nations. He said that those who blessed Israel, would be blessed, and those that cursed them, would be cursed.

10 And Balak’s anger was kindled against Balaam, and he smote his hands together: and Balak said unto Balaam, I called thee to curse mine enemies, and, behold, thou hast altogether blessed them these three times.
11 Therefore now flee thou to thy place: I thought to promote thee unto great honour; but, lo, the Lord hath kept thee back from honour.
12 And Balaam said unto Balak, Spake I not also to thy messengers which thou sentest unto me, saying,
13 If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the commandment of the Lord, to do either good or bad of mine own mind; but what the Lord saith, that will I speak?
14 And now, behold, I go unto my people: come therefore, and I will advertise thee what this people shall do to thy people in the latter days.

Balak was really angry at this prophesy of the blessing of Israel. He claps his hands together. I think I can kind of imagine the unspoken cry, “Enough!” He told Balaam to flee back to his home. Balak would not honor him, but told Balaam to blame his God for keeping the honor from him. Balaam reminded Balak that he had already told the messengers of Balak that he could not go against the word of the Lord, even if he was offered a house full of silver and gold. Balaam would go to his own people, but first, he would tell them their destiny as it related to the people of Balak.

15 And he took up his parable, and said, Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open hath said:
16 He hath said, which heard the words of God, and knew the knowledge of the most High, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open:
17 I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.
18 And Edom shall be a possession, Seir also shall be a possession for his enemies; and Israel shall do valiantly.
19 Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion, and shall destroy him that remaineth of the city.

Balaam told Balak that he had a vision, that there would come a star of Jacob, and a sceptre would rise out of Israel. He was telling of Jesus Christ.

Jesus-Portrait

He told them that Christ would come in a time after his own time. I think the star of Jacob would be considered one of the prophesies of Christ’s birth, when there would be a new star in the heavens. As well as, a prophesy that Christ would come of the line of Jacob. And the scepter, is a prophesy that Christ would be the ruler of the people and would come from the tribes of Israel. Christ would possess or have power over his enemies. He would come and destroy Moab and the people of Sheth, taking possession of the land, having dominion, and destroying any who still lived in the land.

20 And when he looked on Amalek, he took up his parable, and said, Amalek was the first of the nations; but his latter end shall be that he perish for ever.
21 And he looked on the Kenites, and took up his parable, and said, Strong is thy dwellingplace, and thou puttest thy nest in a rock.
22 Nevertheless the Kenite shall be wasted, until Asshur shall carry thee away captive.
23 And he took up his parable, and said, Alas, who shall live when God doeth this!
24 And ships shall come from the coast of Chittim, and shall afflict Asshur, and shall afflict Eber, and he also shall perish for ever.
25 And Balaam rose up, and went and returned to his place: and Balak also went his way.

Balaam told them that the people of Amalek were the first nation, and it had been the first of the nations that Israel fought against and defeated. In the end the Amalekites would perish. The people of the Kenites, even with their strength, would be wasted and carried away captive to Asshur. Then, those living who stood against the Lord’s covenant, would be afflicted and perish. I think this applies to even those of the Israelites who would turn away from the covenant and their Lord, seeking after things like false gods. After Balaam told Balak these things, they both went their own ways.

Balaam had finished speaking the words the Lord gave him to speak. I am sure that this was a difficult thing for him to do. In 2 Peter 2, we read the following:

15 Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;
16 But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet.

Balaam had a love of the wealth of the world, and had it not been for divine intervention, he would have gone and probably cursed them as Balak wanted him to do. However, in the book of Revelation we read of something further on this. In Revelation 2:14, we read, “But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.” I am guessing that in order to leave with some of the honors that had been promised to him, Balaam added words of advice on how the Moabites could still bring down their enemy Israel. I’m not sure why this isn’t part of what is shared in this chapter of Numbers, but we will see in the upcoming chapter, that some of the Israelites were led away into these evil ways of fornication of sacrificing to idols. These people of Israel, will not be spared from the wrath of God upon them. This addition to what Balaam spoke, is an example of how Satan sometimes convinces us to twist or distort what is right, with a way for us to justify our actions. Balaam had done as the angel commanded, but for his own selfish purposes, had followed it up with his own counsel to Balak.

We should recognize the effects of what Balaam did, both the good and bad. He did give counsel to help enemies of Israel bring some of them down. However, Balaam also was the instrument in the Lord’s hands, to give great prophecies of the coming of Christ. Many would look to these words for generations, and find hope in their fulfillment. I believe that the prophecies of the coming of Christ, were indeed fulfilled. I think that part of this prophesy regarding the reign of Christ as a king over the people, is still to be completed. I look forward to his second coming and the day when he will reign over all the earth in righteousness and glory.

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