Numbers Chapter 24: Balaam’s Third Blessing, Promise of Messiah, Destruction of Arabs

Mar 1st, 2010 | By | Category: Numbers, Psalm 83 and Gog & Magog, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Numbers Chapter 24: Balaam’s Third Blessing, Promise of Messiah, Destruction of  Arabs

Num. 24:1 And when Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to bless Israel, he went not, as at other times, to seek for enchantments, but he set his face toward the wilderness.

Num. 24:2 And Balaam lifted up his eyes, and he saw Israel abiding in his tents according to their tribes; and the spirit of God came upon him.

Additional information is supplied that in connection with preparing for the pronouncement of the curse (which proved to be a benediction), Balaam used his own style of incantations, such as the burning of incense. Since the “enchantments” had failed, Balaam now went direct to look down on Israel from Mount Peor (Num. 23:28). As he looked, he was particularly impressed with the orderliness of the encampment. Earlier in the Book of Numbers, we learned that the nation was divided into four quarters. The four divisions of the tribe of Levi were encamped immediately around the Tabernacle. Outside of these four divisions were the remaining 12 tribes, also divided into four groupings of three each. As Balaam looked down on this immense host of people, he was impressed with their order, organization, and control. If even one quarter was so impressive (Num. 23:10), imagine how impressive all four quarters were!

Comment: Please explain the statement that Balaam “went not, as at other times, to seek for enchantments.”

Reply: The other times Balaam preceded the “curse,” which proved to be a blessing, with his own method of getting in the right mood in order to prophesy. Like an enchanter, a wizard, or a necromancer, he preceded his vision with a ritual. This time he realized that resorting to methods he had used successfully back in his mother country of Aram would not be effective with Balak’s request. In other words, because his customary method was ineffective in his first two attempts, he now went direct to make the pronouncement as the Spirit would move him.

Num. 24:3 And he took up his parable, and said, Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open hath said:

Num. 24:4 He hath said, which heard the words of God, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open:

“Falling into a trance, but having his eyes open,” Balaam “saw the vision of the Almighty” God. He got into a trance somewhat as Saul did in his pursuit to kill David. Also, earlier Saul had come in contact with the school of the prophets, and next thing, much to their amazement, he was momentarily prophesying like them (1 Sam. 10:1–12;19:20–24). Just as Balaam was trying to get information for Balak, so perhaps Saul thought he could get information through the school of the prophets as to where David was, but Saul was frustrated in this desire. James 4:7 tells us not to parley with Satan: “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” If we try to reason with Satan, we will lose the contest. Instead we are to rebuke him sternly and abruptly.

Num. 24:5 How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel!

Num. 24:6 As the valleys are they spread forth, as gardens by the river’s side, as the trees of lign aloes which the LORD hath planted, and as cedar trees beside the waters.

Balaam’s pronouncement began with a couplet likening Israel’s tents to goodly trees laden with fruit. In other words, in spite of his wrong motive, Balaam was very impressed in beholding the nation from Mount Peor.

Q: Were Balaam’s words mechanical and, therefore, from the Lord and not his own?

A: Yes, but he was truly impressed with what he saw. At the same time, he was defeated and frustrated in his attempt to pronounce a curse.

Num. 24:7 He shall pour the water out of his buckets, and his seed shall be in many waters, and his king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted.

The ultimate future king of Israel will be “higher than Agag.” Agag, the king of Amalek, sometimes pictures Satan. Therefore, this prophecy is saying that Jesus, the Messiah, will be higher than the god of this world, Satan. Jesus will overcome, defeat, and destroy Satan, the antitypical Agag, and his minions.

Incidentally, “Agag” is really Gog, for the vowels are supplied. Thus the king of the Amalekites is a prototype of Gog at the end of both the Gospel Age and the Kingdom Age. The enemies of Israel who die in Jacob’s Trouble will be buried in a cemetery called Hamon-gog (see Ezek. 39:11–15). Thus Haman in the Book of Esther, who by birth was an Agagite, is appropriately a picture of Gog.

Num. 24:8 God brought him forth out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn: he shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with his arrows.

Again the “unicorn” is either a wild ox or a rhinoceros, that is, a wild, untamable animal that is like a battle tank. In bringing Israel out of Egypt, God manifested great power in dividing the Red Sea and doing mighty miracles.

Israel will “eat up the [enemy] nations, … break their bones, and pierce them through with … arrows.” In other words, any form of resistance to the Kingdom of God during Messiah’s reign will be utterly defeated, for every knee must bow. Psalm 45:3–5 shows Jesus’ going forth as a mighty conqueror: “Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty. And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things. Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies; whereby the people fall under thee.”

Num. 24:9 He couched, he lay down as a lion, and as a great lion: who shall stir him up? Blessed is he that blesseth thee, and cursed is he that curseth thee.

When the Kingdom is established, it will be secure throughout the age, having God’s protection. For a short time in the Little Season, Satan will appear to have regained control, but his efforts will be to no avail.

Num. 24:10 And Balak’s anger was kindled against Balaam, and he smote his hands together: and Balak said unto Balaam, I called thee to curse mine enemies, and, behold, thou hast altogether blessed them these three times.

In anger, King Balak “smote his hands together,” abruptly terminating the services of Balaam. When a king or Pharaoh clapped his hands, his attendants hearkened immediately to see what the king’s wishes were. After he issued the order, the ruler clapped his hands the second time to signify that the discussion had ended and that his attendants were to depart.

Num. 24:11 Therefore now flee thou to thy place: I thought to promote thee unto great honour; but, lo, the LORD hath kept thee back from honour.

The king was telling Balaam, “You had better flee before I get really mad.”

Num. 24:12 And Balaam said unto Balak, Spake I not also to thy messengers which thou sentest unto me, saying,

Num. 24:13 If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the commandment of the LORD, to do either good or bad of mine own mind; but what the LORD saith, that will I speak?

Num. 24:14 And now, behold, I go unto my people: come therefore, and I will advertise thee what this people shall do to thy people in the latter days.

Num. 24:15 And he took up his parable, and said, Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open hath said:

Now, speaking mechanically through the Holy Spirit, Balaam began to talk right into the face of King Balak.

Num. 24:16 He hath said, which heard the words of God, and knew the knowledge of the most High, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open:

Num. 24:17 I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.

The prophecy of verse 17 that a Star would come out of Jacob and a Scepter of authority would arise out of Israel is well known. The Scepter will “smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.” Of course Jesus is the “Star out of Jacob.” No doubt this prophecy, in connection with the prophecy of Daniel 9:24,25, was one reason the three wise men traveled to Israel, saying, “We have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him” (Matt. 2:2). In other words, they were abiding in the East, and when they saw his star, they traveled to Israel to worship the King of Israel.

Balaam was probably of the lineage of Shem but not of Abraham. Arphaxad was a son of Shem. “Sheth” is Seth, one of the sons of the other lineage that will not be honored. For instance, in the Koran, the bedouin (Muslim) peoples of the Middle East apply Old Testament prophecies to themselves. They look back to Abraham as their father but trace their lineage through Ishmael and the sons of Keturah after Sarah’s death, feeling this line was superior. Also, the Muslim lineage goes back to both Shem and Abraham but not through Isaac. Verse 17 is informing us that the Muslim religion is doomed to defeat.

Num. 24:18 And Edom shall be a possession, Seir also shall be a possession for his enemies; and Israel shall do valiantly.

In going to the land of Israel, Moses had to circumvent Edom and Moab because those peoples refused permission for the Israelites to travel through their countries. Elsewhere God said that Edom and Moab would be an everlasting possession for the Edomites and the Moabites, respectively. Now this part of the prophecy reveals that David, the progenitor of the Messiah, would inflict real damage. He conquered Petra (Sela) and Moab for a while. Verse 17 indicates that the northern half of Moab will never be restored to the Moabites, for the “corners of Moab” were smitten, or lopped off, and subsequently given to the tribe of Reuben. Therefore, Israel will ultimately possess Transjordan but not Edom, Ammon (to the east and north), or the southern portion of Moab. Notice that verse 18 does not say Edom will be an everlasting possession. Edom was just temporarily defeated.

Num. 24:19 Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion, and shall destroy him that remaineth of the city.

Num. 24:20 And when he looked on Amalek, he took up his parable, and said, Amalek was the first of the nations; but his latter end shall be that he perish for ever.

Saul, Israel’s first king, inflicted damage—almost a mortal wound—on the Amalekites. Subsequently David was successful in defeating the remnant of the Amalekites, so that they existed no longer.

“Amalek was the first of the nations,” that is, the first people to become a nation. Amalek covered a tremendous territory. From one standpoint, the Amalekites are considered to be the greatest power in history. Amalek’s “latter end shall be that he perish for ever.” As a nation, the Amalekites ceased to exist in David’s day, but there were individual survivors, Haman being one.

According to prophecy, Egypt will never rise again as a superpower. Prior to the universal empire of Babylon, first Egypt and then Assyria were superpowers.

Num. 24:21 And he looked on the Kenites, and took up his parable, and said, Strong is thy dwellingplace, and thou puttest thy nest in a rock.

Num. 24:22 Nevertheless the Kenite shall be wasted, until Asshur shall carry thee away captive.

In prophesying about the Kenites, Balaam said, “Strong is thy dwellingplace, and thou puttest thy nest in a rock.” He was referring to Petra, where the Kenites occupied high, inaccessible caves that prevented them from being ferreted out. Any army who had intentions of routing the Kenites from their caves had to go up single file and thus was thwarted. To defeat the Kenites required an immense host with plenty of supplies that could sustain a siege. Finally King Nebuchadnezzar was able to ferret out the Kenites. Later the Kenites returned from their Babylonian captivity to again inhabit Petra. Still later the Roman army under Trajan defeated them.

Today no one lives in Petra, and it has been desolate for about 200 years. However, when the resurrection takes place, the Kenites will be raised in their homeland. Edom, too, will come back into existence but as a subdued nation underneath the authority of Messiah. The same land will be repeopled by the Edomites, who are in the tomb. In other words, Edom and part of Moab have been preserved for their inheritance in the Kingdom Age.

Num. 24:23 And he took up his parable, and said, Alas, who shall live when God doeth this!

Num. 24:24 And ships shall come from the coast of Chittim, and shall afflict Asshur, and shall afflict Eber, and he also shall perish for ever.

Depending on context, Chittim can refer to Cyprus, Spain, or England. The Hebrews descended from Eber, who was of the lineage of Shem (Gen. 10:21,24,25). Those of Eber—that is, in the days when he was a patriarch—lived in a large territory of Saudi Arabia, most of which is desert.

Num. 24:25 And Balaam rose up, and went and returned to his place: and Balak also went his way.

Balaam returned to his homeland, yet we find out later in Numbers (31:16) that before he left, he gave advice to King Balak along the following lines. “The only way you can curse this people is through seduction. Get them to worship your god, and the best way to do this is to have the daughters of Moab go out and seduce the Israelite men and wean them away from their God to Chemosh, the sun god.

Revelation 2:14 mentions Balaam: “But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.” Balaam is a picture of the ancient pagan priesthood of Rome who, under Constantine, joined the Catholic religion. With the infusion of Oriental religion came the concept of the Trinity, which is an ancient type of worship not found in Judaism. (Egypt, too, had a Trinity.) In antitype, Balaam represents how God’s people were seduced from the one true God, Jehovah, into the worship of the sun. Of course the true Sun is Jesus, the Sun of righteousness who shall arise, Messiah and his coterie (Mal. 4:2). The false sun is Papacy. Stated another way, there is the false nominal ecclesiastical realm, and there are the true stars, sun, and moon. Through the influence of Balaam, the original pure faith became adulterated. Many were seduced by “that woman Jezebel … to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols” (Rev. 2:20). Despite the cruel persecution under Pagan Rome, Satan could not stamp out the Church in the second (Smyrna) period. When, in fact, opposition strengthened the Christian faith, he pursued the tactic of seduction by joining the Church and becoming its head. He displaced Christ, taking his seat through Papacy.

(1996–1997 Study)

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