Numbers 24 – The Prophecy of Balaam (continued)
A. The third prophecy.
1. (23:27-24:2) Preparation for the prophecy.
Then Balak said to Balaam, “Please come, I will take you to another place; perhaps it will please God that you may curse them for me from there.” So Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor, that overlooks the wasteland. Then Balaam said to Balak, “Build for me here seven altars, and prepare for me here seven bulls and seven rams.” And Balak did as Balaam had said, and offered a bull and a ram on every altar. Now when Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel, he did not go as at other times, to seek to use sorcery, but he set his face toward the wilderness. And Balaam raised his eyes, and saw Israel encamped according to their tribes; and the Spirit of God came upon him.
a. Build for me here seven altars, and prepare for me here seven bulls and seven rams: At the suggestion of Balaam, Balak offered seven bulls and seven rams. By now, he had offered 21 bulls and rams, plus Balaam’s pay. This means Balak had a substantial investment in seeing Israel cursed. This third time, they selected another place to make the prophecy again.
b. He did not go as at other times, to seek to use sorcery: Apparently, on the two previous occasions, Balaam tried to bring forth a curse on Israel, but he couldn’t. Now he stopped using these false and artificial aids, and just let the Lord speak to him.
2. (3-9) God’s third message through Balaam.
Then he took up his oracle and said: “The utterance of Balaam the son of Beor, the utterance of the man whose eyes are opened, the utterance of him who hears the words of God, who sees the vision of the Almighty, who falls down, with eyes wide open: How lovely are your tents, O Jacob! Your dwellings, O Israel! Like valleys that stretch out, like gardens by the riverside, like aloes planted by the Lord, like cedars beside the waters. He shall pour water from his buckets, and his seed shall be in many waters. His king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted. God brings him out of Egypt; he has strength like a wild ox; he shall consume the nations, his enemies; he shall break their bones and pierce them with his arrows. He bows down, he lies down as a lion; and as a lion, who shall rouse him? Blessed is he who blesses you, and cursed is he who curses you.”
a. How lovely are your tents, O Jacob: This beautiful prophecy speaks of Israel’s blessed abundance, and the dominance over neighbor nations God will give Israel. Most of all, it speaks of the abiding blessing of God on Israel, and directly rebukes Balak for trying to curse Israel (cursed is he who curses you).
b. Blessed is he who blesses you, and cursed is he who curses you: Each of the first three prophecies, it has gotten worse for Balak. In the first one, Balaam fails to curse Israel; in the second, he blesses Israel, and in the third, he curses Balak! How much worse can it get for the king of Moab?
3. (10-13) Balak’s exasperation with Balaam.
Then Balak’s anger was aroused against Balaam, and he struck his hands together; and Balak said to Balaam, “I called you to curse my enemies, and look, you have bountifully blessed them these three times! Now therefore, flee to your place. I said I would greatly honor you, but in fact, the Lord has kept you back from honor.” So Balaam said to Balak, “Did I not also speak to your messengers whom you sent to me, saying, ‘If Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the word of the Lord, to do good or bad of my own will. What the Lord says, that I must speak’?”
a. I would greatly honor you, but in fact, the Lord has kept you back from honor: Balak said that he would not pay Balaam because Balaam would not curse Israel. This hit Balaam where it really hurt him.
b. The Lordsays, that I must speak: Balaam tried his best to excuse himself, and to blame God. But he knew that his heart’s desire (a big paycheck) would not be fulfilled, because he failed to please his employer.
i. Perhaps at that moment Balaam saw the greater wisdom of God in telling him not to go, because now it seemed the whole trip was a big waste, and Balaam would not get his money.
B. The fourth prophecy.
1. (14) Introduction.
“And now, indeed, I am going to my people. Come, I will advise you what this people will do to your people in the latter days.”
a. And now, indeed, I am going to my people: There was no preparation needed for this prophecy. Since Balak was not going to pay Balaam, Balaam would get back at him with a “free” prophecy, one that would show just how blessed Israel will be – both now and in the latter days.
2. (15-24) God’s fourth message through Balaam.
So he took up his oracle and said: “The utterance of Balaam the son of Beor, and the utterance of the man whose eyes are opened; the utterance of him who hears the words of God, and has the knowledge of the Most High, who sees the vision of the Almighty, who falls down, with eyes wide open: “I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; a Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel, and batter the brow of Moab, and destroy all the sons of tumult. And Edom shall be a possession; Seir also, his enemies, shall be a possession, while Israel does valiantly. Out of Jacob One shall have dominion, and destroy the remains of the city.” Then he looked on Amalek, and he took up his oracle and said: “Amalek was first among the nations, but shall be last until he perishes.” Then he looked on the Kenites, and he took up his oracle and said: “Firm is your dwelling place, and your nest is set in the rock; nevertheless Kain shall be burned. How long until Asshur carries you away captive?” Then he took up his oracle and said: “Alas! Who shall live when God does this? But ships shall come from the coasts of Cyprus, and they shall afflict Asshur and afflict Eber, and so shall Amalek, until he perishes.”
a. I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; a Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel: This passage is a beautiful prophecy of the coming Messiah. Balaam could see Him, but not now.
i. Jesus is here prophetically called a Star and a Scepter; He is glorious like a star, and has all authority to rule, as pictured by a scepter.
b. And batter the brow of Moab, and destroy all the sons of tumult: The Messiah will eventually rule over all nations that surround Israel. Here God spoke about the neighboring nations of Israel (Moab, Edom, Amalek, and the Kenites) and their future through Balaam.
3. (25) Balaam and Balak depart.
So Balaam rose and departed and returned to his place; Balak also went his way.
a. So Balaam rose and departed: Undoubtedly, both were disappointed and perhaps angry, each because Israel had not been weakened spiritually and therefore made ready for defeat in battle. Balak wanted Israel defeated, and Balaam wanted Balak’s money, but each wanted Israel spiritually cursed as a way to get it, and God would not curse Israel.
b. Balak also went his way: We must credit Balak for one thing; he knew where the strength of Israel was. He did not seek to defeat Israel through military strategy or new weapons. He knew it was a spiritual battle, and if Israel won the spiritual battle, they would certainly win the military battle.
i. We should walk in the same awareness. If we did, we would give more time and attention to building our spiritual strength, in having a close walk with Jesus. We should not allow Balak to be more perceptive about spiritual things than we are.
© 2006 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission