Numbers 23-24

n23.jpgGreetings!

Balaam’s First Oracle

23     Balaam said, “Build me seven altars here, and prepare seven bulls and seven rams for me.” 2 Balak did as Balaam said, and the two of them offered a bull and a ram on each altar.

3 Then Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here beside your offering while I go aside. Perhaps the Lord will come to meet with me. Whatever he reveals to me I will tell you.” Then he went off to a barren height.

4 God met with him, and Balaam said, “I have prepared seven altars, and on each altar I have offered a bull and a ram.”

5 The Lord put a message in Balaam’s mouth and said, “Go back to Balak and give him this message.”

6 So he went back to him and found him standing beside his offering, with all the princes of Moab. 7 Then Balaam uttered his oracle:

“Balak brought me from Aram,

the king of Moab from the eastern mountains.

‘Come,’ he said, ‘curse Jacob for me;

come, denounce Israel.’

8 How can I curse

those whom God has not cursed?

How can I denounce

those whom the Lord has not denounced?

God is sovereign.  It is hard for us to grasp, but nothing happens that doesn’t go through his hands.

9 From the rocky peaks I see them,

from the heights I view them.

I see a people who live apart

and do not consider themselves one of the nations.

10 Who can count the dust of Jacob

or number the fourth part of Israel?

Let me die the death of the righteous,

and may my end be like theirs!”

11 Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I brought you to curse my enemies, but you have done nothing but bless them!”

12 He answered, “Must I not speak what the Lord puts in my mouth?”

Balaam’s Second Oracle

13 Then Balak said to him, “Come with me to another place where you can see them; you will see only a part but not all of them. And from there, curse them for me.” 14 So he took him to the field of Zophim on the top of Pisgah, and there he built seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.

15 Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here beside your offering while I meet with him over there.”

16 The Lord met with Balaam and put a message in his mouth and said, “Go back to Balak and give him this message.”

17 So he went to him and found him standing beside his offering, with the princes of Moab. Balak asked him, “What did the Lord say?”

18 Then he uttered his oracle:

“Arise, Balak, and listen;

hear me, son of Zippor.

19 God is not a man, that he should lie,

nor a son of man, that he should change his mind.

Does he speak and then not act?

Does he promise and not fulfill?

I had memorized verse 19 but didn’t realize the context!  That makes it even more meaningful.

20 I have received a command to bless;

he has blessed, and I cannot change it.

21 “No misfortune is seen in Jacob,

no misery observed in Israel.

The Lord their God is with them;

the shout of the King is among them.

22 God brought them out of Egypt;

they have the strength of a wild ox.

23 There is no sorcery against Jacob,

no divination against Israel.

It will now be said of Jacob

and of Israel, ‘See what God has done!’

24 The people rise like a lioness;

they rouse themselves like a lion

that does not rest till he devours his prey

and drinks the blood of his victims.”

25 Then Balak said to Balaam, “Neither curse them at all nor bless them at all!”

26 Balaam answered, “Did I not tell you I must do whatever the Lord says?”

Balaam’s Third Oracle

27 Then Balak said to Balaam, “Come, let me take you to another place. Perhaps it will please God to let you curse them for me from there.” 28 And Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor, overlooking the wasteland.

29 Balaam said, “Build me seven altars here, and prepare seven bulls and seven rams for me.” 30 Balak did as Balaam had said, and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.

24     Now when Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel, he did not resort to sorcery as at other times, but turned his face toward the desert. 2 When Balaam looked out and saw Israel encamped tribe by tribe, the Spirit of God came upon him 3 and he uttered his oracle:

“The oracle of Balaam son of Beor,

the oracle of one whose eye sees clearly,

4 the oracle of one who hears the words of God,

who sees a vision from the Almighty,

who falls prostrate, and whose eyes are opened:

5 “How beautiful are your tents, O Jacob,

your dwelling places, O Israel!

6 “Like valleys they spread out,

like gardens beside a river,

like aloes planted by the Lord,

like cedars beside the waters.

7 Water will flow from their buckets;

their seed will have abundant water.

“Their king will be greater than Agag;

their kingdom will be exalted.

8 “God brought them out of Egypt;

they have the strength of a wild ox.

They devour hostile nations

and break their bones in pieces;

with their arrows they pierce them.

9 Like a lion they crouch and lie down,

like a lioness—who dares to rouse them?

“May those who bless you be blessed

and those who curse you be cursed!”

10 Then Balak’s anger burned against Balaam. He struck his hands together and said to him, “I summoned you to curse my enemies, but you have blessed them these three times. 11 Now leave at once and go home! I said I would reward you handsomely, but the Lord has kept you from being rewarded.”

12 Balaam answered Balak, “Did I not tell the messengers you sent me, 13 ‘Even if Balak gave me his palace filled with silver and gold, I could not do anything of my own accord, good or bad, to go beyond the command of the Lord—and I must say only what the Lord says’? 14 Now I am going back to my people, but come, let me warn you of what this people will do to your people in days to come.”

Balaam’s Fourth Oracle

15 Then he uttered his oracle:

“The oracle of Balaam son of Beor,

the oracle of one whose eye sees clearly,

16 the oracle of one who hears the words of God,

who has knowledge from the Most High,

who sees a vision from the Almighty,

who falls prostrate, and whose eyes are opened:

17 “I see him, but not now;

I behold him, but not near.

A star will come out of Jacob;

a scepter will rise out of Israel.

He will crush the foreheads of Moab,

the skulls of all the sons of Sheth.

18 Edom will be conquered;

Seir, his enemy, will be conquered,

but Israel will grow strong.

19 A ruler will come out of Jacob

and destroy the survivors of the city.”

Balaam’s Final Oracles

20 Then Balaam saw Amalek and uttered his oracle:

“Amalek was first among the nations,

but he will come to ruin at last.”

21 Then he saw the Kenites and uttered his oracle:

“Your dwelling place is secure,

your nest is set in a rock;

22 yet you Kenites will be destroyed

when Asshur takes you captive.”

23 Then he uttered his oracle:

“Ah, who can live when God does this?

24 Ships will come from the shores of Kittim;

they will subdue Asshur and Eber,

but they too will come to ruin.”

25 Then Balaam got up and returned home and Balak went his own way.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Balaam did as the Lord commanded and was smart enough to see that no one can undo what God has decreed.  Oh, that others would see this truth and stop rebelling against the one true God!

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