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9. Balak, Balaam, and Bedlam

August 14, 2009

Text: Numbers 22:1-24:25

 Outline:      I. Balak Seeks Balaam      Numbers 22:1-8

                           II. God Seeks Balaam      Numbers 22:9-20

                          III. Balaam Seeks Balak   Numbers 22:21-30

                          IV. Balaam Sees God’s Angel      Numbers 22:31-41

                          V. Balaam Blesses Israel         Numbers 23:1-24:25

Context/Discussion/Comments:

     Israel is now camped in the Plains of Moab in the land of the Amorites, whom they just defeated, across the Jordan River from Jericho. Balak, king of Moab is worried that Israel will turn on him so he sends some of his elders along with some Midianite elders to visit Balaam, a known diviner, to put a curse on Israel. The Midianites must have immigrated to Moab because their homeland is far south near the Red Sea. Moses’ father in law and wife were Midianites.

     God visits Balaam and asks him not to go with these elders and not to curse Israel because Israel is blessed. Balaam relays this message to the elders and they return home. Balak sends others of his princes back to Balaam offering him even more wealth if he would curse Israel. God visits Balaam again, telling him he can go but he must only say what the Lord instructs him to say.

     Balaam goes but God is angry. Evidently, Balaam’s heart is into going for the money offered. So God sends His angel to block the way. Balaam ends up beating his donkey three times to get him going in the right direction. The donkey balks and begins to discuss the situation with Balaam. Then Balaam’s eyes are opened and he sees the Lord’s angel. He realizes his sin, agrees to say only what the Lord tells him, and is released to go to Balak. Balaam meets Balak and declares he will speak only what the Lord tells him [not what Balak says]. Balak sacrifices to his gods and takes Balaam up a mountain to view Israel.

     Balaam tells Balak to build 7 altars where Balak sacrifices again but Balaam goes off to meet with God. God tells Balaam to go back to Balak at the altars and, instead of cursing Israel, Balaam blesses Israel. Balak is upset and proceeds to take Balaam to another place to see more of Israel. There he builds 7 more altars and asks Balaam to curse Israel again. Balaam leaves to meet with God, returns to the altars, and proceeds to bless Israel a second time. Balak is now very upset and takes Balaam to a third viewpoint where he builds 7 more altars. Balaam understands that he is pleasing God and blesses Israel again, prophesying of their greatness. Balak is now very angry and sends Balaam home without pay. Balaam gives Balak one last oracle warning Moab and prophesies that “the Messiah” will come out of Israel. Balaam continues and prophesies against the Amalekites, the Kenites, and, perhaps, the future powers of Assyria and Greece.

Lessons/Applications:

1. Just as Balak desired Balaam to curse Israel, the world seeks to find ways to curse His Church. The curse is subtle and not necessarily out in the open, but it is there. Therefore, let us be faithful and worthy of the Lords’ protection and blessing.

2. God willingly presents Himself to all so that He is known as the Almighty and His people are blessed according to His Divine Will.

3. Money is man’s vehicle used to justify wrong over right. Be discerning when too much money is being offered for your services.

4. Agreeing to one thing and then intentionally setting out to do the opposite will generate roadblocks along your journey. Be honest. Integrity is a virtue and brings peace with God. In the midst of wrongdoing, God will reveal Himself. Don’t miss Him.

5. Acknowledging and obeying God reveals:

           a) God’s blessing upon His people [oracle 1 & 3].

           b) God’s Holy character [oracle 2].

           c) God’s miraculous works [oracle 2].

          d) God’s blessing, His Messiah, to all peoples [oracle 4].

          e) God’s victory over evil [oracles 4+]

    Acknowledge and obey Him. Be a citizen of His Eternal Kingdom.

6. God is sovereign over all peoples, even those intent on doing evil.

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