The Prophecy of Balaam Pt3

Part Three

Only a fool would try to curse Israel more than once. And only a tyrant would try to curse Israel more than twice. King Balak was worse than a fool. He was a tyrant.

Balak had arranged for the famous prophet to curse the people of Israel, but God said that Israel was destined for blessing. Balak persisted a second time.

Surely wisdom sat awkwardly on the shoulders of King Balak. He had been told more than once that Israel could only be blessed. It defies logic why he should continue knowing that he would only fail. Yet, knowledge is not always a friend, and wisdom is not always welcome.

Like a true tyrant, King Balak persisted for a third time. "Then Balak said to Balaam, 'Please come, I will take you to another place . . . '" (Numbers 23:27) Like viewing a room through different windows, Balak was looking for a window from which the prophet could curse Israel. But regardless of the window, the view was the same. Israel could not be cursed. Bless, yes – curse, no, because Israel was destined for blessing.

On the previous two occasions Balaam, the prophet had used sorcery, but on this occasion " . . . he did not go as at other times, to seek to use sorcery . . . " (Numbers 24:1) Rather, on this occasion, "Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to bless Israel . . . " and so " . . . he set his face toward the wilderness..."

This would be a different experience for Balaam. He would not be influenced by the powers of darkness through the medium of sorcery, as on the previous two occasions, but the Spirit of God came upon him.

"Then he took up his oracle and said: 'The utterance of Balaam the son of Beor . . . " (Numbers 24:3) and already the focus is different. On the two previous occasions, when Balaam announced the Word of God, King Balak was the focus of the introduction. But on this third occasion Balaam, the prophet, is the focus.

Balaam's appearance differed from the previous two occasions. Previously he had used sorcery, and he simply returned to announce the oracle. But on this third occasion, the Spirit of God was upon him.

"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." (Numbers 24:3-4)

Balaam fell down, with eyes wide open – he was in a trance. He heard the Words of God himself, with his own ears. He saw, what the Almighty saw. He saw, as it were, not with the eyes of man but through the eyes of the LORD. The Spirit of God was upon him.

Hear the Word of the LORD.

"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. (Numbers 24:5-6)

God declares of His people, Israel, that they are a beauty to behold. From their wanderings in tents, to their more permanent dwellings and possession of the Land – how lovely! The people of Israel are for blessing, whether in the Diaspora among the nations, or at home in the Land of Israel. "How lovely . . . !"

In the eyes of the Almighty, they are a people like valleys stretched out, rich and fertile, abundant and fruitful.

Balaam had set his face toward the wilderness, but in contrast to the desert, with its harsh dry profile, the people of Israel are like valleys stretched out. Neither do they resemble the profile of a city skyline. Israel is not man-made, the LORD God is his maker and planter. The people of Israel are like gardens by the riverside, abundant with fruit for healing and well-being.

Like the perfumed aloe trees and tall cedars beside the waters, the Almighty has planted the people of Israel for peace and righteousness among the nations. He has made them a people of refuge for the abused and rest for the downtrodden.

The people of Israel are to the nations of the world like an oasis in the desert.

King Balak was worried that Israel would gain a foothold in the region and would threaten to overthrow his kingdom. But God has greater plans for Israel than just regional affairs. "He shall pour water from his buckets; and his seed shall be in many waters." (Numbers 24:7) Israel would extend further than the Moabite kingdom, far beyond the immediate region. Israel would prosper and become a mighty nation.

Whilst Balak had planned for the future, and had used all his influence to prepare for the long term, the future of Israel was much more secure. In fact, a future Amalekite king, Agag, would arise and be more powerful than Balak. But even he would be subject to Israel's future king. "His king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted." (Numbers 24:7)

Balak could be categorized as representing any leader or ruler who tries to dominate the people of Israel, or try to determine Israel's destiny. The significance of this aspect of the prophecy is that despite the power and authority of the wicked one, Israel will always have a king who is higher, and a kingdom that will always be exalted over the evil despot. The truth of this promise has been repeated time and again throughout history.

In time, Saul, king of Israel, defeated the wicked Agag, king of the Amalekites. Unfortunately, King Saul spared Agag from death. Then centuries later Haman, a descendant of Agag, sought to destroy the people of Israel. And the prophecy of Balaam promising Israel's future came into focus once again. The book of Esther records the events and the miraculous deliverance of the people of Israel, through Esther and Mordecai.

Another aspect of the prophecy which is noteworthy is that Israel was not only promised a king, but a king whose kingdom would be exalted. Ultimately, the prophecy points to Israel's future King Messiah whose kingdom will be exalted above all kingdoms, and whose throne will be righteous.

King Balak was not prepared for the enormity and extent of Israel's destiny. Ultimately, those who oppose Israel, oppose God, and like Balak, will eventually fail. The nation of Israel is a people of purpose, set apart to bring salvation to the nations.

"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." (Numbers 24:8-9)

God has planted Israel among the nations. They are like stretched-out valleys, rich and fertile, abundant and fruitful strategically located for the disbursement of God's goodness and mercy to the nations.

Let the nations rejoice and bless Israel. Let the nations be filled with the goodness of the LORD.