The Prophecy of Balaam Pt2

Frustrated by Balaam's failure to curse Israel, King Balak hoped that he could at least curse a portion of Israel. So he took Balaam to a different location, where " . . . you shall see only the outer part of them . . . " (Numbers 23:3)

There on the summit of Pisgah, as he had done previously, King Balak arranged seven altars and sacrificed a bull and ram on each. Then the Word of the Lord came, but it was not what Balak was expecting to hear.

"God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should repent. Has he said, and will he not do? Or has he spoken, and will he not make it good? Behold, I have received a command to bless, he has blessed, and I cannot reverse it." (Numbers 23:19-20)

Balak was a wealthy, prominent King. He was influential and persuasive among his peers and subjects but these qualities could not help him determine this outcome. God would not be influenced by human intellect and means.

The famous prophet was employed to speak a curse but it was futile; Balaam could only speak blessing. God, on the other hand, spoke and it would come to pass, moreover; His Word would make it good.

Balak was in a position to bless Israel; instead he chose to curse them. He could have viewed them as friend; instead he saw them as a threat. God, on the other hand, had commanded blessing for Israel, which could not be reversed.

Hoping to secure the future of his kingdom by manipulating and changing the future of Israel, Balak sought to expose Israel's sin.

However, he was in for a surprise, because God " . . . has not observed iniquity in Jacob, nor has he seen wickedness in Israel." (Numbers 23:21)

Atonement has already been provided for Israel's sins. From God's perspective, the nation is forgiven and therefore without sin. Isaiah the prophet pointed to this future event. "Israel shall be saved by the LORD with an everlasting salvation . . . " (45:17)

The focus is not on Israel's sin but rather on God's provision of atonement. God has not observed iniquity in Jacob because He has provided atonement. Israel is saved, redeemed and forgiven.

The prophet Isaiah also points to the Messiah as the One who will provide the atonement. "Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all." (Isaiah 53:4-6)

This was good news for Israel because it meant that they could press on toward their holy calling under the cover of God's atonement. The Law would teach Israel the way of righteousness, and they would demonstrate the truth by living the life of faith, to the glory of God. In time, the Messiah would come – He would fulfil the Law. The Messiah would be the embodiment of the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Undoubtedly this is good news for the nations also because what other nation could show the way of redemption – the forgiveness of sins?

Regardless, while awaiting the arrival of the Messiah, Israel would give witness to the nations of their personal experience of God's loving kindness, righteousness and truth. Thus life to Israel would be life for the nations.

Israel was imbued with power and strength to pursue its destiny, and so when Balaam viewed even a small portion of Israel from Mt Pisgah, he declared. "The LORD his God is with him, and the shout of a King is among them." (Numbers 23:21)

This is another reference to the King Messiah who will provide atonement for Israel and who will establish His Kingdom of peace.

Initially, Balak was unable to curse Israel. Now came the assurance from God that His purposes would be fulfilled even if a small remnant of Israel remained.

Balak could not alter Israel's destiny in any degree. Moreover, Balaam the prophet could only bless Israel, because of their role in God's plan to bring redemption to the world.

The purposes of God meant nothing to Balak. He was more concerned about losing control of his empire. When he first saw Israel in the plains of Moab he saw them ready to overpower his regime " . . . as an ox licks up the grass of the field." (Numbers 22:4) But now, with the prophet revealing the Word of God, it was clearly worse than Balak had first thought, because now the prophet was declaring, "God brings them out of Egypt; he has strength like a wild ox." (Numbers 23:22)

When the people of Israel came out from Egypt it was God who brought them out. He empowered them. He brought them to Sinai. He gave them His Word. He gave them His dwelling place. He travelled with them from place to place. And He is with them now!

They were not like any other nation wandering the desert, because God was in the process of making Israel His people, and He was in the process of becoming their God.

Surely, Israel is destined for greatness – the redemption of the world!

Nothing can remove God's blessing toward Israel. No power on earth or in heaven can change the purpose God has for Israel. "For there is no sorcery against Jacob, nor any divination against Israel." (Numbers 23:23)

The significance of Israel's role can not be overlooked. God had redeemed Israel from slavery, and had set them apart to bring redemption to the world. Through them the nations would see and hear the glory of God. Through Israel, the Redeemer would come, and salvation to the world. God made it possible for Israel to press on toward the holy calling without restraint. Israel would pursue their destiny with a zeal for His righteousness and by walking in the strength of God's forgiveness and faithfulness. "It now must be said of Jacob and of Israel, 'Oh, what God has done!'" (Numbers 23:23)

Balak, king of Moab, did not want to hitch his wagon with Israel. Instead, he chose to view Israel as a threat to his own kingdom. Thus Balak was doomed to failure and his nightmare had only just begun! Israel could not be cursed in any portion. Nor could their destiny be altered – Israel was and is unstoppable, their future sealed in the promises of God. Again and again Israel rises until God's purposes are accomplished.

"Look, a people rises like a lioness, and lifts itself up like a lion; it shall not lie down until it devours the prey, and drinks the blood of the slain." (Numbers 23:24)

There is a lesson for the nations, even today, not to be like King Balak who viewed Israel as an enemy. Rather behold the greater blessing, the richer treasure – Israel is the key to redemption of the world – regard them as a friend and the channel of blessing.

"Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion! When the LORD brings back the captivity of his people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad." (Psalm 14:7)