Joshua and Judges: Push to the Promised Land: God reveals Himself plainly to His people. Num 23:18-24:9.

Class Outline:

Title: Joshua and Judges: Push to the Promised Land: God reveals Himself plainly to His people. NUM 23:18-24:9.  


Announcements opening prayer:



NUM 23:18 Then he took up his discourse and said,

"Arise, O Balak, and hear; Give ear to me, O son of Zippor!


NUM 23:19 "God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent [change His mind]; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?


NUM 23:20 "Behold, I have received a command to bless; When He has blessed, then I cannot revoke it.


NUM 23:21 "He has not observed misfortune in Jacob; Nor has He seen trouble in Israel; The Lord his God is with him, And the shout of a king is among them.


NUM 23:22 "God brings them out of Egypt, He is for them like the horns of the wild ox. [wild bull or buffalo or some extinct animal]


NUM 23:23 "For there is no omen against Jacob, Nor is there any divination against Israel; At the proper time it shall be said to Jacob And to Israel, what God has done.


The fact that Israel was not directed, like other nations, to the uncertain and deceitful instrumentality of omen and divination, but enjoyed in all its concerns the immediate revelation of its God, furnished the proof that it had its God in the midst of it, and was guided and endowed with power by God Himself.


Divination and witchcraft were the means employed by the heathens to interpret times and determines futures. God sends direct revelation to the prophet.


Divination was the unfolding of the future from signs in the phenomena of nature, and inexplicable occurrences in animal and human life. Witchcraft was prophesying from a pretended or supposed revelation of the Deity within the human mind.


For instance, Jacob's uncle Laban:


GEN 30:27

But Laban said to him, "If now it pleases you, stay with me; I have divined that the Lord has blessed me on your account."


Laban thought that he could discern the ways of Jehovah through divination and omens. He looked at Jehovah as just one of the many gods of the many peoples.


This heathenism was rampant around the area and likely got its start at the tower of Babel and evolved from there to the various places of the dispersion.


DEU 18:9 "When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations.


DEU 18:10 There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer,


DEU 18:11 or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead.


DEU 18:12 For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord; and because of these detestable things the Lord your God will drive them out before you.


DEU 18:13 You shall be blameless before the Lord your God.


The gift to Israel, and subsequently to all nations through her, was the gift of true prophecy from God to a prophet or someone with the gift of prophecy, which was to be perfectly and literally fulfilled.


NUM 23:23 "For there is no omen against Jacob, Nor is there any divination against Israel; At the proper time it shall be said to Jacob And to Israel, what God has done.


At the proper time refers to the word of God spoken to the prophets. God's word will reveal God's acts, counsel, and will which He had spoken first to the patriarchs and then to Moses and the prophets.


In this He revealed to His people in truth, and in a way that could not deceive, what the heathen attempted in vain to discover through augury and divination.


God does not attempt to deceive or confuse the believer. Through the Spirit of God He brings direct and plain and simple revelation from His word.


The revelation of his truth will come to you at the proper time. We depend completely on the Holy Spirit for this, and so we will not learn and understand if we are grieving the HS in sin or quenching the HS in independence from Him. If we discover that we are doing so then we must recover in grace and listen, depending on the Holy Spirit for teaching, interpretation, and understanding, as well as guidance for proper application. In this way, the tenacious student of the word of God will receive revelation of the truth at the proper time, solely from the source of the word of God. It will not be a puzzle or too complex to be understood, but clear and simple.


JAM 1:17

Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.


Concerning the confusion that occurred in the Corinthian church when many people wanted to prophecy at the same time and tried to talk over one another:


1CO 14:33

for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.


1CO 2:4-5

And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.


1CO 2:10

For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.


Php 3:15

Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you;


What is here affirmed of Israel, applies to the Church as well, and also to every individual believer. The church knows from His word what God does, and what it has to do in consequence. The wisdom of this world resembles witchcraft and divination. The church, which is in possession of His word, has no need of it, and it only leads its followers to destruction, from inability to discern the will of God. To discover this with certainty, is the great privilege of the church.


And now Balaam states the prophecy of Jacob concerning the tribe of Judah, that he would be a ruler among his people.


NUM 23:24 "Behold, a people rises like a lioness, And as a lion it lifts itself; It shall not lie down until it devours the prey, And drinks the blood of the slain."


GEN 49:9

"Judah is a lion's whelp;

From the prey, my son, you have gone up.

He couches, he lies down as a lion,

And as a lion, who dares rouse him up?


This is an important prophecy because after the death of Joshua the sons of Judah were unable to hold Jerusalem, which was again conquered by the Jebusites, who held Mt. Zion. It would be David who finally took it; the first king from Judah and to whom the promise of a son who would reign forever would be given.


The promise is that Israel will devour its prey and then lie down to rest as the lioness kills, eats, and then rests full and satisfied. The underlying prophecy  that first came from Jacob is that in the land the tribe of Judah would rise to become the ruler of his brethren and through whom would come the Messiah, the true and eternal ruler of His people.


NUM 23:25 Then Balak said to Balaam, "Do not curse them at all nor bless them at all!"


Just shut up! We have carried heavy stones and fourteen large animals up these mountains to hear this?


NUM 23:26 But Balaam answered and said to Balak, "Did I not tell you, 'Whatever the Lord speaks, that I must do'?"


NUM 23:27 Then Balak said to Balaam, "Please come, I will take you to another place; perhaps it will be agreeable with God that you curse them for me from there."


NUM 23:28 So Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor which overlooks the wasteland.


This peak is somewhat farther north and even closer to the camp of Israel.


Again we see the thinking of the heathen, which he holds on to very, very tightly. Rather than contemplate that what Balaam is saying about Israel could be true, he again imagines that another location will do the trick. In other words, the ritual has to be modified again since it is the ritual that matters most. Yet Balak has heard that Jehovah does not change. This makes Him unique among the heathen gods, who always do.


Today, so many people see Christianity as just another religion, when it is totally and completely unique unto itself. Do they hear, do they understand, that salvation is of grace, not of them, it is a gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast?


Jehovah has not only conquered the Amorites but also pharaoh and the Egyptian army and not even the champion diviner of the heathen world can curse when Jehovah says bless.


Balak should open his eyes and see that the ritual is a spit wad against the one true living God, but his decision is that the ritual needs another location.


NUM 23:29 And Balaam said to Balak, "Build seven altars for me here and prepare seven bulls and seven rams for me here."


NUM 23:30 And Balak did just as Balaam had said, and offered up a bull and a ram on each altar.


Balak goes along with this a third time because as a heathen he believes in numerology of the ritual, in other words, he believes in "third time's a charm." However, Balaam has come to understand that these rituals and his own divining has had nothing to do with Jehovah's actions, and so this time, the third time, he doesn't seek for omens as he has done all the other times before this, starting in his own home.


I find Balaam in this respect to be somewhat like Pilate before the Lord. Both of them have had their eyes opened to certain aspects of God and they have been given pause by Him. Balaam on that mountain is the closest to the kingdom of God, but will he come over by means of faith?


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.


Balaam understands that the Lord is pleased to bless Israel and so that's all Jehovah is going to do, so why bother with the divination practices of seeking omens, but rather set his face towards the wilderness.


NUM 24:2 And Balaam lifted up his eyes and saw Israel camping tribe by tribe; and the Spirit of God came upon him.


NUM 24:3 And he took up his discourse and said,


In the two prior times the Lord told him what to say, but now God sends God the Holy Spirit upon him.


It seems from verses 3 and 4 that he is thrown into an ecstatic state and the Spirit opens his mind's eye though his physical eyes are closed.


NUM 24:3 "The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor,

And the oracle of the man whose eye is opened [closed];


"shatham" - does not mean to open, … but to close. [Keil and Delitzsch]


NUM 24:4 The oracle of him who hears the words of God,

Who sees the vision of the Almighty,

Falling down, yet having his eyes uncovered,


If Balaam is an unbeliever, this event should in no way be taken as a precedent for the Spirit of God coming upon unbelievers, but would rather make this a unique occurrence, of which, the whole event is a unique occurrence.


However, many, including Keil and Delitzsch and Calvin have seen this as revealing that Balaam was a true, believing prophet of God.


In his ecstatic experience he saw the beauty of an Israel blessed by God.


God sees you blessed. He sees you beloved. You don't always see yourself that way, but God always does, for you are His and in His Son.