Joshua and Judges: Push to the Promised Land: God sanctifies His people - Balaam, part 3. Num 22:28-23:8

Class Outline:

Title: Joshua and Judges: Push to the Promised Land: God sanctifies His people - Balaam, part 3. NUM 22:28-23:8.  

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.


This should give him pause as I'm sure it did, just as the Lord gave pause to Pilate so many times. It's what they do with that momentary pause that means everything.  


In humility and yieldedness of will we must look to the word of God for the solutions to difficulties and disappointments.


Animals are more sensitive to the presence of danger than we are. The gloating self-satisfied magician had seen absolutely nothing while the dumb beast saw clearly that there was danger and opposition to the journey. The donkey saved his life by going out of the way and lying down.


So blind by ambition and self-absorption is Balaam that the Lord decides to open the mouth of the donkey and the beast will actually reason with Balaam flawlessly so that Balaam has only one answer to conclude.


Pride blinds us to God. God can use the most mundane thing to snap us out of our blindness for a moment or so. What we do with that moment is of extreme importance.


In that moment we will either see the truth or we will blame others, reason the situation away as a coincidence, sublimate and move onto something else in order to take our mind off it, call it bad luck, fall into denial, etc.


NUM 22:28 And the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, "What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?"


NUM 22:29 Then Balaam said to the donkey, "Because you have made a mockery of me! [in the sight of the others] If there had been a sword in my hand, I would have killed you by now."


NUM 22:30 And the donkey said to Balaam, "Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden all your life to this day? Have I ever been accustomed to do so to you?" And he said, "No."


This is comical and we find it amazing that Balaam would actually respond without seeming to be shocked that his donkey can suddenly speak his language and reason as a man. But you must remember, we are not usually given all the details, all the emotions, all the words stated by those who are in the narrative. It may be that Balaam stared at the donkey that just asked him a question for quite a while. Maybe he laughed, maybe he freaked out a bit, but what we do know is that after some period of time when he concluded that the donkey did actually speak, and that intelligently and reasonably, that he responded in his own defense - "you have made a mockery of me."


No doubt the other men who are with him, having likely ridden ahead, laughed at the great Balaam's inability to ride a donkey in a straight line. Balaam has a air about him, the great diviner, the one being offered all the riches of Moab, the great man. No doubt his servants and the other officials have noticed this increase in pompousness. After happening twice, the mockery and laughing would have gotten more intense so that after, when it lied down, they probably lost all restraint and laughed heartily, mocking greatly, and insulting him as they rode ahead to Moab.


The great Balaam, by now a legend in his own mind, made a fool of by a donkey.


God makes war with the proud and embarrasses them when it is necessary. This humiliation is another opening for Balaam to open his eyes.


1PE 5:5

God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.


It is only when the donkey's second question opens his reasoning to see reality that the Lord opens his eyes.


NUM 22:30 And the donkey said to Balaam, "Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden all your life to this day? Have I ever been accustomed to do so to you?" And he said, "No."


NUM 22:31 Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way with his drawn sword in his hand; and he bowed all the way to the ground.


The seer, who prided himself upon having eyes for divine revelations, was so blind, that he could not discern the appearance of the angel, which even the irrational beast had been able to see.


By this he was taught, that even a beast is more capable of discerning things from the higher world, than a man blinded by sinful desires.


Pride is the number one cause of blindness, of the soul.


It was not till after this humiliation that God opened his eyes, so that he saw the angel of the Lord with a drawn sword standing in his road, and fell upon his face before this fearful sight.


NUM 22:32 And the angel of the Lord said to him, "Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out as an adversary, because your way was contrary to me.


NUM 22:33 But the donkey saw me and turned aside from me these three times. If she had not turned aside from me, I would surely have killed you just now, and let her live."


In deep seated pride, Balaam, like many others in the same depth of sin, rail against those who are attempting to save them.


The persecutors of Christ are the ultimate example of this and it continues to happen throughout the history of mankind, that the most proud of us attack the ones who are doing the most to save us.


NUM 22:34 And Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, "I have sinned [missed], for I did not know that you were standing in the way against me. Now then, if it is displeasing to you, I will turn back."


The basic meaning of chata is to miss a target. It applies to sin, which Balaam is certainly doing, but I don't see him as a repentant man who desires to abide by God's Law. He is likely confessing that he missed the intention of Jehovah and so offers to go back home.


However, going back home isn't going to change a thing in Balaam's mind. He'll miss out on the money, so he'll definitely be depressed about that, but one would doubt that he would be repentant. Yet God will still use him for His purposes. Which, as we get to them, are timeless testimonies to the greatness and the faithfulness of Jehovah Elohim, which He is to you and me today.


NUM 22:35 But the angel of the Lord said to Balaam, "Go with the men, but you shall speak only the word which I shall tell you." So Balaam went along with the leaders of Balak.


Already the elders of Moab and Midian had hurried on along with Balaam’s own servants, to announce the arrival of the prophet


He will walk in to the great den of heathenism full of persons who expect him to be the greatest of them and able to persuade any god to his desire. What they don't know, and Balaam now knows after his encounter with the Lord who could have split him in two in a second, is that it is himself who will be persuaded by the superior hand of the God of the Hebrews.


Balaam will walk into the den of heathenism now knowing for sure that the God of Israel is far more powerful than Baal or Chemosh.


The meeting between the king of Moab and the sooth­sayer took place at Ir Moab, the “city” or capital of Moab, close by its northern boundary. They would have undergone the formal greetings of the east, Balak would have again offered his riches and Balaam states that he is able only to speak the word that Jehovah puts in his mouth. But that was understood by the king as Balaam had gotten Jehovah over to their side and that word would be a curse upon Israel.

From the capital of Moab they proceeded to Kiriathaim where the first sacrifices were offered and Balaam as well as the princes of Moab and Midian dined on the sacrificial meat. The next morning Balak took the diviner up the lofty heights of Baal-meon, where they offered their sacrifices to Baal and worshipped him and from which height that affords a magnificent view they could see a portion of Israel, about a fourth part or four of the camped tribes.


NUM 22:36 When Balak heard that Balaam was coming, he went out to meet him at the city of Moab, which is on the Arnon border, at the extreme end of the border.


NUM 22:37 Then Balak said to Balaam, "Did I not urgently send to you to call you? Why did you not come to me? Am I really unable to honor you?"


NUM 22:38 So Balaam said to Balak, "Behold, I have come now to you! Am I able to speak anything at all? The word that God puts in my mouth, that I shall speak."


NUM 22:39 And Balaam went with Balak, and they came to Kiriath-huzoth.


NUM 22:40 And Balak sacrificed oxen and sheep, and sent some to Balaam and the leaders who were with him.


NUM 22:41 Then it came about in the morning that Balak took Balaam, and brought him up to the high places of Baal; and he saw from there a portion of the people.


Balak likely assumes that the people have to be in view of the curse. It's not much of a god who has to see what he's cursing.


Balaam went forth in the regular heathen manner of his craft in seeking omens with the hope that they would lead to a meeting with Jehovah.


We know this because of how Balaam approached God the third time. 


NUM 24:1 When Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel, he did not go as at other times to seek omens but he set his face toward the wilderness.


We cannot know the exact practice of divination that Balaam used but it was likely of the same type that he used at his home when Jehovah spoke to him. It was some kind of ritual where magical arts and relics were applied. Sometimes they looked at cloud formations, or entrails, rolled dice, etc. It is also possible that he went out looking for a manifestation of Jehovah in some significant phenomenon of nature.


Because heathenism had no "sure word of prophecy," it sought to discover the will and counsel of god, which are displayed in the events of human history, through various signs that were discernible in natural phenomena.


In our day we have all kinds of predictions being made by so-called science. Some attempt to predict markets or politicians predict the future needs of the country or attempt to predict the war or peace of other countries and throughout all history such attempts are eventually frustrated. The prediction that the planet is going to cook and the seas are going to rise and that we're going to destroy ourselves, or that we depleted the ozone layer, which conveniently went away, are all nonsense to the believer who knows the dispensations and knows that the Lord is going to return for His church and when we comes to the earth the second time that He is going to create a perfect environment.


Satan cannot prophecy. All he can do is to attempt to undo the sure prophecies of God, which so clear and discernible as they are, he has been thus far unable [ex. song of Moses fulfilled in just 40 years].


Balaam used the omen the first two times and Jehovah spoke to him. But after hearing the words that Jehovah put in his mouth he realizes that these enchantments were not necessary.


Never before so clearly as in presence of the powers of heathenism, assembled to contend against Israel, did Jehovah show forth His almighty power and eternal purpose.


And He did so with the instrument of heathenism's greatest champion.


NUM 23:1 Then Balaam said to Balak, "Build seven altars for me here, and prepare seven bulls and seven rams for me here."


Balaam understood that the number seven was significant to Jehovah as well as the bull and ram offering, so he is attempting to soften Him up.