Balaam's Four Prophecies - Number One

by Kenneth J. Price

Prophecy Number One: Numbers 23:7-10

We read in Numbers chapters 23 and 24 four wonderful prophecies God gave through Balaam, an outstanding evidence of verbal inspiration. Here was a man who was not a true prophet of God; he was certainly a covetous impostor and charlatan; he had gone up, with King Balak the Moabite king, "to the high places of Baal" (Numbers 22:41) to prepare an altar and sacrifices, thus seeking the aid of the powers of evil against Israel.

And yet God used him, Balaam, in a mighty way to show forth His purposes to the world with regard to His people Israel.

Balak, the king of the Moabites, sought to destroy Israel by getting Balaam to pronounce a curse on them. Balak had seen "all that Israel had done to the Amorites. And Moab was exceedingly afraid of all the people because they were many, and Moab was sick with dread because of the children of Israel" (Numbers 22:2,3).

He thought that he could get Balaam to curse Israel so that they would not come against him and his nation. The Moabites were the descendants of Moab, the son of the older daughter of Lot. Moab and his brother Ammon had been born through the incestuous relationship between Lot and his two daughters after the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah.

They had been cursed by God and had been told they were never to enter the Temple of God on the strength of this relationship: "One of illegitimate birth shall not enter the congregation of the LORD, even to the tenth generation ..." and now they were going to be judged for their earlier treatment of God's people as well as for their hiring of Balaam.

"An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the congregation of the LORD; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the congregation of the LORD for ever, because they did not meet you with bread and water on the road when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam … to curse you" (Deuteronomy 23:2-4).

And now here was a nation seeking to destroy God's people Israel. However, God in His almighty wisdom and sovereignty overruled all that Balaam sought to do. Even though Balaam was an impostor God is able to take whomever He wills to use for His own purposes.

So "the LORD put a word in Balaam's mouth, and said, 'Return to Balak, and thus you shall speak.'" From the heart of God, through this person, God gave to us and to the world, four outstanding prophecies, and it is from the first prophecy (Numbers 23:7-10) that we notice that Israel was to be Divinely protected by God. "How shall I curse whom God has not cursed? And how shall I denounce whom God has not denounced?"

Israel still is protected by God, whatever the world may say, and however the world may look upon God's people. Whoever comes against them can do only that which God allows, and whatever God does allow is only for the purpose of bringing them back into fellowship with Him.

Balaam continued: "For from the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him; there! A people dwelling alone, not reckoning itself among the nations." Balaam was given a vision from God, looking down from heaven as it were, and seeing Israel among the nations as God sees them – a people unique – unique among the nations, a people who dwell alone among the nations, absolutely apart and separated unto God for his own purposes.

Indeed God has said: "'For I am with you,' says the LORD, 'to save you; though I make a full end of all nations where I have scattered you, yet I will not make a complete end of you. But I will correct you in justice, and will not let you go altogether unpunished'" (Jeremiah 30:11). God will never destroy or allow others to destroy His people.

There are nations down through the centuries that have attempted to persecute and even destroy Israel, but according to God's word to Abraham: "I will curse him that curses you" (Genesis 12:3), they now have ceased to exist, yet God still has His purposes for His nation, which is alone among the nations in its uniqueness.

"Who can count the dust of Jacob, or number the one-fourth of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my end be like his!" This speaks to us of the fact that Israel is innumerable, as we read in Genesis 13:16: "I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered".

This was God's promise to Abraham, and we remember that the posterity of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is not only the Jewish people, but there are those in these days who qualify as the children of Abraham through faith. "For he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God" (Letter to the Romans 2:29).

Poor Balaam wanted to die the death of the righteous and have his last end like Jacob's! But this was reserved only for those who were righteous in their living – certainly not Balaam. God ultimately dealt with Balaam when the Midianites were judged by God, their five kings were killed, and "Balaam the son of Beor they also killed with the sword" (Numbers 31:9).

A man like Balaam could not "die the death" as an Israelite died, because the Israelites were a people totally separate as the Word says.

Of course, Balak king of the Moabites was terribly upset. "Then Balak said to Balaam, 'What have you done to me? I took you to curse my enemies, and look, you have blessed them bountifully'" (Numbers 23:11), and Balaam, despite his wicked heart had to testify and admit his powerlessness. "So he answered and said, 'Must I not take heed to speak what the LORD has put in my mouth?'"

God was overruling all these steps of the enemies of Israel for His glory and for the good of His people. And He even took this wicked man Balaam to show forth His purposes and to bring forth wonderful prophecies.

In all the evil propaganda that is being put about by the enemies of Israel in this our day and generation, God in His mighty power will overrule every circumstance, every nation and every individual who would seek to curse and punish Israel.

God will have His way, and this is a great encouragement for those who pray, to continue to pray, and to pray through for the ultimate victory that the Lord will bring. The whole earth will one day be fully blessed through His people Israel, as He said to Abraham: "And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Genesis 12:3).

NEXT: Prophecy Number Two: Numbers 23:18-24 (November 1999)