Joshua and Judges: Push to the Promised Land: God sanctifies His people - Balaam, part 2. Deu 23:5; Neh 13:2; Num 22:1-18.
length: 64:14 - taught on Jul, 9 2015
In reminding Israel of the desire for the kingdom of darkness to curse Balaam they are assured that God turns curses from the enemy into blessings.
The phrase "God turns the curse into a blessing" is usually quoted in reference to our own failures, but its context is always the curse of the enemy and so its context is not our failures but undeserved suffering as the enemies of God persecute the people of God.
It is true that the love and grace of God has fully completed the work in the forgiveness of our sins that we can recover in grace without guilt or condemnation and to us that is an infinite blessing, but this phrase does not apply to recovery from sin. In so doing it opens the idea, even a little, that we should sin so that grace may increase, i.e. so that God can turn our curses into blessings. This is a false application. God turns the curse of the enemy into blessings for us, as He did for Israel.
Turning the curse into a blessing is written in the context of the curse of the enemy upon God's people. In other words, for when you suffer for His sake.
DEU 23:3 "No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the Lord; none of their descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall ever enter the assembly of the Lord,
DEU 23:4 because they did not meet you with food and water on the way when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you.
DEU 23:5 Nevertheless, the Lord your God was not willing to listen to Balaam, but the Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you because the Lord your God loves you.
DEU 23:6 You shall never seek their peace or their prosperity all your days.
After the completion of the walls of Jerusalem after the return of the exiles:
NEH 13:1 On that day they read aloud from the book of Moses in the hearing of the people; and there was found written in it that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever enter the assembly of God,
NEH 13:2 because they did not meet the sons of Israel with bread and water, but hired Balaam against them to curse them. However, our God turned the curse into a blessing.
NEH 13:3 So it came about, that when they heard the law, they excluded all foreigners from Israel.
"My people, remember now
What Balak king of Moab counseled
And what Balaam son of Beor answered him,
And from Shittim to Gilgal,
In order that you might know the righteous acts of the Lord."
NUM 22:9 Then God came to Balaam and said, "Who are these men with you?"
NUM 22:10 And Balaam said to God, "Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, has sent word to me,
NUM 22:11 'Behold, there is a people who came out of Egypt and they cover the surface of the land; now come, curse them for me; perhaps I may be able to fight against them, and drive them out.'"
NUM 22:12 And God said to Balaam, "Do not go with them; you shall not curse the people; for they are blessed."
NUM 22:13 So Balaam arose in the morning and said to Balak's leaders, "Go back to your land, for the Lord has refused to let me go with you."
NUM 22:14 And the leaders of Moab arose and went to Balak, and said, "Balaam refused to come with us."
What we know for sure is that Balak has asked for a curse upon God's people. A heathen has demanded a curse of Israel just before Israel crosses the Jordan and takes the land and disperses the heathens from it.
It is clear that God is going to use Balaam to relay His unconditional covenant to both the heathen and Israel.
It was, therefore, really a contest between heathenism and Israel as the people of God, which would exhibit and decide the real relationship between Israel and the heathen world, or in other words, between the Church of God and the kingdoms of this world.
And as formerly God had raised up Pharaoh to be the instrument of bringing down the gods of Egypt, so would He now decide this contest through the very man whom Balak had chosen as its champion.
He would use him as a willing instrument, if he yielded, or as an unwilling one, if he rebelled, but in any case as an efficient instrument for carrying out His own purposes.
This is a contest between Satan's religious heathenism and God's gracious covenant.
Of the three things God told Balaam; you shall not go with them, you shall not curse them, and they are blessed; he deliberately suppressed the last two - the most important.
It is the last two that are the most important since they would have revealed the utter hopelessness of attempting to curse Israel. God emphatically states that they are blessed. Yet God will get Balaam to say these words in the hearing of all.
These two left out statements are the knowledge of the character of God and that of His true servants, who simply obey, but do not seek control.
His will is final and those who follow Him follow that will.
Balaam doesn't say, "I will not go," but "the Lord has refused to let me go with you." This infers that Jehovah's mind can be changed.
With this implication, when Balak hears it, he will simply send more distinguished men and more money.
Are His words and His ways final? Can we say in our heart that we will not go because God said - you will not go, or do we secretly hope that God only forbids us to go for now?
Balaam likely misunderstood God's appearance and conversation as implying a sort of league with him or acknowledgment of him as a diviner.
I think it's pretty safe to infer this since he returns to his incantations and rituals, which he likely performed, in order to seek a second meeting.
This would explain his use of a phrase he would have well known as said by the Jews, Jehovah Elohym, calling God the Lord my God.
This does not at all imply that he became a believer, but that he envisioned Jehovah as being one of the many gods that were in league with him in his divination.
NUM 22:15 Then Balak again sent leaders, more numerous and more distinguished than the former.
NUM 22:16 And they came to Balaam and said to him, "Thus says Balak the son of Zippor, 'Let nothing, I beg you, hinder you from coming to me;
NUM 22:17 for I will indeed honor you richly, and I will do whatever you say to me. Please come then, curse this people for me.'"
NUM 22:18 And Balaam answered and said to the servants of Balak, "Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not do anything, either small or great, contrary to the command of the Lord my God.
Again, he doesn't say, "I will not go," but just that I won't go unless Jehovah allows me and so he asks Jehovah again. "The Lord my God" - Jehovah Elohym: a name he would have known.
Balaam knows this name from the Jews and likely states because he believes that Jehovah is now in his camp with the other gods. So he called Him Jehovah, Lord, before God talked to him and now Jehovah Elohym, the Lord my God, after God talked to him. This would explain why God, even after telling him to go, was angry enough at him to bring down the penalty of death.
Balak had well judged that a heathen diviner who had Jehovah on his side would be greatly motivated by wealth and ambition and with that he may even be able to propitiate the God of Israel.
This shows that the heathen king Barak knows the heart of a heathen prophet. They do not love righteousness but wages.
Referring to false prophets:
having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness
Why is it that all false prophets are never satisfied simply with their wisdom? They always desire wealth, or power, or recognition. It is because only the truth can fulfill the soul.
Only the truth can fulfill the soul. False prophets always lust for wealth, power, and recognition because they are not fulfilled.
It would be safe to say that if your soul is being filled with truth then former desires for things not yet obtained become weaker and more silent in the mind. If you are finding yourself being fulfilled in life by the word, the Spirit, the Lord, the Father - God alone then you can be sure that your soul is being filled with real truth. If desires for wealth and power and recognition never seem to decrease or in fact get louder, then one should reevaluate the things he is learning.
For Balaam, his course has already been sealed.
Refusing to yield himself willingly, he would now be made the unwilling instrument of exalting Jehovah.
God allows him to go, which is Balaam's desire, but God will use him as an unwilling instrument.
Man so often doesn't know that as he opposes God and believes that he is getting what he wants that God is working His will in everything and that all things will be to His glory.
There is no wisdom and no understanding
And no counsel against the Lord.
For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth.
NUM 22:19 And now please, you also stay here tonight, and I will find out what else [what more] the Lord will speak to me."
When stating that he will find out what else or what more the Lord will speak to him, he has every intent of changing Jehovah's mind.
NUM 22:20 And God came to Balaam at night and said to him, "If the men have come to call you, rise up and go with them; but only the word which I speak to you shall you do."
The promise of unlimited wealth included, Balaam is thoroughly satisfied with himself as the wealthiest and strongest diviner of his time. He no doubt interpreted this as God coming over to him.
By sending Balaam, God is now making him His unwilling instrument.
Balaam is willing to go for the wages, but he has no idea what God is going to make him say, which would be against his present will. Yet Balaam will see the Lord with drawn sword and understand that he must say what the Lord tells him to.
And so the anger of the Lord burned against him. It is not a contradiction for God to tell him to go and then be angry at him for going. God knows what is in his heart. Balaam could care less about Israel. He wants tremendous riches and to be known as the greatest diviner of his time.
/God told him to go because God is going to use him as His instrument, but that doesn't mean that God would not oppose the way that he thinks as a selfish heathen.\
God used Pharaoh as well, but wasn't pleased with the thinking or ways of Pharaoh.
NUM 22:21 So Balaam arose in the morning, and saddled his donkey, and went with the leaders of Moab.
NUM 22:22 But God was angry because he was going, and the angel of the Lord took his stand in the way as an adversary against him. Now he was riding on his donkey and his two servants were with him.
NUM 22:23 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way with his drawn sword in his hand, the donkey turned off from the way and went into the field; but Balaam struck the donkey to turn her back into the way.
NUM 22:24 Then the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path of the vineyards, with a wall on this side and a wall on that side.
NUM 22:25 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she pressed herself to the wall and pressed Balaam's foot against the wall, so he struck her again.
NUM 22:26 And the angel of the Lord went further, and stood in a narrow place where there was no way to turn to the right hand or the left.
NUM 22:27 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she lay down under Balaam; so Balaam was angry and struck the donkey with his stick.
The world's so-called greatest diviner cannot get a donkey to walk straight or even to walk at all.
The main object of what happened to him on the journey was, if possible, to arouse Balaam to a sense of his utter ignorance of, and alienation from, Jehovah.
God allows many things in our lives in order to wake us up to the truth. When things become difficult and disappointing we are forced to look for the truth in the matter or to become and remain miserable. When we search for the proper truth which applies to the situation we will find it if we humbly submit to the ministry of God the Holy Spirit. Balaam doesn't have the Holy Spirit, but he does have the ability to see that he is not the world's greatest diviner because he can't even make a donkey walk straight.