The prophecies of Balaam.

We are not to be isolated but insulated, moving in the midst of evil but untouched by it. Separation is contact without contamination. Jesus was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners” (Heb. 7:26), yet He was “a friend of tax collectors and sinners” … More

Separation

Israel’s greatest temptation was in wanting to be like the other nations, and this is what led to their downfall and captivity. Unfortunately, many in the church today have the same mistaken idea that being like the world is the way to reach the world. Instead of maintaining separation (II Cor. 6:14-15) they promote imitation (I John 2:15-17), so that it is becoming more difficult to distinguish the people of God from the people of the world.

The number seven was sacred among many of the nations and religions at this time (v. 1). Balak is still determined to get Balaam to bring the curse of God on Israel. Next we find him taking Balaam to Bamoth Baal (“the high places of Baal”) where they could see the camp of Israel and offer more sacrifices to Baal. Balaam used these sacrifices as part of his sorcery and soothsaying (24:1) and didn’t wait for God’s promised message as instructed. However in His grace and goodness, God used this evil man and endured his foolishness because He had a special message to declare about His people Israel. God had especially blessed the people of Israel and they could not be cursed (vv. 7-8). They also were chosen by God and therefore were as a nation set apart from the other nations (v. 9).

To encourage Balaam to do what he was hired to do (curse Israel) Balak decided to give him a new perspective (vv. 13-26). He took him to the top of Mount Pisgah where again they offered sacrifices to their gods (vv. 13-14). The very fact that Balaam participated in these pagan rituals shows the wickedness of his heart. He spoke the Word of God and longed for a righteous death, yet he thought nothing of using enchantments and Satan worship (24:1). He was a double minded man whose chief desire was to make as much money as possible by marketing his skills.

Application

Balak took Balaam to several places thinking a change of scenery might help bring about a change of mind. But changing locations won’t change God’s Will. I must learn to face the source of my problems. Moving to escape problems will only make solving them more difficult. A change of location or job may only distract me from the need of a changed heart.

Numbers 23:1-30 (English Standard Version)

And Balaam said to Balak, "Build for me here seven altars, and prepare for me here seven bulls and seven rams." Balak did as Balaam had said. And Balak and Balaam offered on each altar a bull and a ram. And Balaam said to Balak, "Stand beside your burnt offering, and I will go. Perhaps the LORD will come to meet me, and whatever he shows me I will tell you." And he went to a bare height, and God met Balaam. And Balaam said to him, "I have arranged the seven altars and I have offered on each altar a bull and a ram." And the LORD put a word in Balaam's mouth and said, "Return to Balak, and thus you shall speak." And he returned to him, and behold, he and all the princes of Moab were standing beside his burnt offering. And Balaam took up his discourse and said, "From Aram Balak has brought me, the king of Moab from the eastern mountains: 'Come, curse Jacob for me, and come, denounce Israel!' How can I curse whom God has not cursed? How can I denounce whom the LORD has not denounced? For from the top of the crags I see him, from the hills I behold him; behold, a people dwelling alone, and not counting itself among the nations! Who can count the dust of Jacob or number the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the upright, and let my end be like his!" And Balak said to Balaam, "What have you done to me? I took you to curse my enemies, and behold, you have done nothing but bless them." And he answered and said, "Must I not take care to speak what the LORD puts in my mouth?" And Balak said to him, "Please come with me to another place, from which you may see them. You shall see only a fraction of them and shall not see them all. Then curse them for me from there." And he took him to the field of Zophim, to the top of Pisgah, and built seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each altar. Balaam said to Balak, "Stand here beside your burnt offering, while I meet the LORD over there." And the LORD met Balaam and put a word in his mouth and said, "Return to Balak, and thus shall you speak." And he came to him, and behold, he was standing beside his burnt offering, and the princes of Moab with him. And Balak said to him, "What has the LORD spoken?" And Balaam took up his discourse and said, "Rise, Balak, and hear; give ear to me, O son of Zippor: God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? Behold, I received a command to bless: he has blessed, and I cannot revoke it. He has not beheld misfortune in Jacob, nor has he seen trouble in Israel. The LORD their God is with them, and the shout of a king is among them. God brings them out of Egypt and is for them like the horns of the wild ox. For there is no enchantment against Jacob, no divination against Israel; now it shall be said of Jacob and Israel, 'What has God wrought!' Behold, a people! As a lioness it rises up and as a lion it lifts itself; it does not lie down until it has devoured the prey and drunk the blood of the slain." And Balak said to Balaam, "Do not curse them at all, and do not bless them at all." But Balaam answered Balak, "Did I not tell you, 'All that the LORD says, that I must do'?" And Balak said to Balaam, "Come now, 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, which overlooks the desert. And 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 each altar.

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