About Jesus Steve Sweetman
in verse 1 that Balaam wants seven altars built for seven offerings to
God. As I noted before, all
cultures back in these days had some kind of sacrificial offering
systems that they would make to their god, or to their gods.
Balaam would have been used to doing this, even though he was not
thing we need to note here is that God is using a non-Jew for his own
purpose, something that He does from time to time. God
will use non-Jews, or non-Christians to help support
verses 2 and 3 Balaam tells Balak that he will go off to the side
somewhere to be alone with the hope of hearing from God.
The way Balaam expresses this is that he is not one hundred
percent sure that God would speak to him.
He would make himself available if God so chose to speak to him.
This is a good stance for Christians to take as well.
We don't demand that God speak to us, and we don't presume that
verse 4 Balaam told God that he had built seven altars, in the verse God
put words in Balaam's mouth to speak.
Balaam, a non-Jew was acting as a prophet to another non-Jew at
this point, all for the blessing of God to be on Israel. Again, we cannot discount
the fact that from time to time, God may use a non-believer, that is, in
our New Testament understanding, to accomplish his purpose.
6 through 10 are the prophetic words that God gave Balaam to speak to
in verse 7 that Balaam refers to Israel
as Jacob. The past is still
familiar with these men. Jacob
was Abraham's son whose name God changed to Israel, and, from time to time,
verse 8 Balaam speaks words that Balak did not want to hear.
Balaam said that he could not curse or denounce someone that God
has not cursed and denounced. Balaam
is doing well at this point. He
seems to understand a Biblical principle here.
We stand on the side of God, no matter who or what is attempting
us to do otherwise. We must
always stand on the side of our Lord and Biblical truth, even if it
causes divisions among those we love.
Abrahamic Covenant is all about God blessing Israel. I'm not sure if Balaam
understood or even knew about the Abrahamic Covenant, but he was acting
in conjunction with it.
9 is important. Balaam
states that he sees a people who don't consider themselves a part of the
other nations in the world. How
true this is. Israel
was set apart to be an example for the other nations.
see the words of Balaam being carefully constructed here.
Note that he does not call
verse 10 Balaam asks, "who can count the dust of Jacob"?
This is in direct reference to the Abrahamic Covenant where God
says that He will increase Israel's numbers. As the sand of
the sea, the stars in the sky, the dust on the earth,
ends by saying, "let me die the death of the righteous".
At this point he is identifying himself with the righteous, with
the righteous men of Israel. He was willing to die for
the righteous cause that he was participating in.
He could not deny the Lord God of Israel.
is upset, as seen in verse 11. He
wanted a curse and he got a blessing.
In verse 12 Balaam simply says that he can do nothing but speak
what God has told him. It's
as simple as that.
verses 13 to 15 Balak takes Balaam to a place where he can actually see
part of Israel. At this point the number
was too great to see all at once. Balak
was hoping that such large numbers would shake some sense into Balaam
and cause him to curse Israel. So once again,
Balaam built seven altars and offered bulls and went a distance away to
hear from God.
verses 16 to the end of this section Balaam utters the oracle that God
gave him to speak. Once
again, we should note that Balaam is not a Jew.
He has an ancient Babylonian background.
He worshipped multiple gods, and here the only true God is using
him as a prophet. We often
hear sermons preached on Balaam's donkey talking, but Balaam himself
speaking the word of the Lord is just as much of a miracle, or something
to seriously consider. God
can, and will, use anyone or anything at times to get across his point
verses 18 and 19 we note that God, through Balaam speaks directly to
Balak. This is not a general
word from the Lord to the masses. It
is specifically for Balak. God
tells Balak to arise. He
said that God is not a man that he should lie.
I think the Lord is saying this because He has already spoken to
Balak and Balak has paid no attention to the Lord God.
The God of Israel is not a man, and he does not lie.
This tells us a bit of how God views man, and that is, man lies.
He does not tell the truth. This
is how God views us.
verse 19 God says that He is not the son of man that He should change
His mind. We should note the
term "son of man". It
simply means that God is not a man. He has not been born from a mother
and father. God also
says that He does not change His mind.
The idea that God changes His mind at times arises a few times as
you study the Bible. Just a
few chapters ago, God told Balaam not to go to see Balak, then, it
appears that He changed His mind and said that it was okay for Balaam to
go and see Balak. Did God
change His mind? Well, in
light of these direct words from God, it looks like He didn't change His
mind, even though it appears He did on the surface.
same question comes up a few times with Moses and when he appears to
change God's mind. I use the
word "appear", because I don't think Moses ever changed God's
mind. In all these events,
we do not have the whole and complete story.
There is more to these events than what is recorded.
I'm sure there was more to the event of God telling Balaam not to
go, and then telling him to go. He
might well have wanted Balaam to wait a while before he left, and that
is why He told him not to go, at least don't go right away.
words are directly from God's mouth.
He says that He does not change His mind, so good hermeneutics
tells us that we should interpret the rest of the Bible with these words
in mind. God does not change
His mind, and we should be glad of that.
thinking of God changing His mind, the idea of changing one's mind
implies being part of time. At
one point in time you think one thing,
and then at a later point you change your thinking.
Changing your mind is linked to time.
God lives in the eternal now.
I don't believe that God lives in time as we know it, so this may
be one reason why He doesn't, or even can't, change His mind.
the rest of verse 19 God asks through Balaam, "does God speak and
not act, or promise and not fulfill"?
The answer is apparent. When
God speaks He will act, and what He has promised, He will fulfill.
This is important for us to know.
We learn lots about God in these oracles spoken by Balaam.
God always does what He says He will do.
I think of the Abrahamic Covenant when I hear these words.
Some people say that God changed His mind concerning the promises
of the Abrahamic Covenant, but that can't be so according to what God
says here. All those
promises have been, or will be fulfilled.
You can count on that.
verse 20 Balaam told Balak that God told him to bless
verse 21 Balaam tells Balak that no misfortune or misery is among Israel. Now,
has had misfortune and misery in the past, and that was due to their own
also says that "the King" is among them.
I believe the King refers to pre-incarnate Jesus.
I'm sure that Balaam did not understand this.
He might not well have understood half of what he was saying.
He was simply repeating what God spoke to him, and that is all he
was told to do. I dare say
that much of the prophetic words that the prophets of
verse 22 Balaam reminds Balak that it was God who brought them out of Egypt, and now they have the strength of a mighty ox.
verse 23 Balaam says that there is no sorcery against
23 says that people will "see what God has done" in Israel. When
is blessed of God because they obey Him, everyone can see God's hand on
them. I'd say the same can
be true with God's people today, whether that be the Jews or the church.
Obey God and His hand of blessing will be on you.
We just need to understand what blessing is all about.
It's not always about humanistic style prosperity.
verse 24 Balaam says that
also tend to think that this has prophetic association with
hearing this, in verse 25 Balak tells Balaam not to bless or curse
verse 26 Balaam answers Balak by telling him that he had already told
him that he could do nothing other than what the Lord wanted him to do
and say. Simply put, Balaam
says, "I told you so. What
did you expect me to do?"