BALAAM’S PROPHECIES AND EVIL COUNSEL

    Printer-friendly versionSend by email

    [Numbers:23:1-30]; [Numbers:24:1-25]; [Numbers:31:8], [Numbers:31:16]; [2 Peter:2:12-17]

    Lesson No.: 
    111
    Class: 
    Senior
    Memory Verse: 

    “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:3).

    Cross References: 

    I Sacrifice Offered and Prophecies Given
    1. Balaam orders Balak to build seven altars and prepares oxen and rams for sacrifices, [Numbers:23:1-2].
    2. Balaam goes to inquire of the Lord, and returns with the answer, “How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed?” [Numbers:23:3-8]; [Isaiah:47:12-13].
    3. Balaam prophesies that Israel will dwell alone and not be reckoned among the nations, [Numbers:23:9-10]; [Deuteronomy:33:28]; [Exodus:33:16]; [Ephesians:2:14].
    4. Balak complains that Balaam blesses Israel altogether, when he called him to curse them, [Numbers:23:11].
    5. They go to the top of Pisgah and build altars and offer sacrifices, and Balaam goes again to inquire of the Lord, [Numbers:23:12-18].
    6. Balaam’s answer, “God is not a man, that he should lie”; “I have received commandment to bless . . . and I cannot reverse it,” [Numbers:23:19-20].
    7. The Lord has not beheld iniquity in Jacob, and the shout of a king is among them; and it shall be said of them, “What hath God wrought!” [Numbers:23:21-24]; [Romans:4:7-8].

    II More Prophecies Concerning Israel
    1. When Balaam saw that it pleased God to bless Israel, he set his face toward the wilderness and saw Israel, and the Spirit of God came upon him, [Numbers:24:1-4].
    2. He exclaimed, “How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel!” [Numbers:24:5].
    3. They are spread forth as gardens by the river’s side and aloes which the Lord has planted, [Numbers:24:6]; [Psalms:104:16].
    4. His king shall be higher than Agag and he shall eat up the nations, his enemies. This makes Balak angry and he tells Balaam to flee to his place, [Numbers:24:7-11].
    5. Balaam takes up his parable, “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, “Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion.” [Numbers:24:12-19]; [Revelation:1:7]; [Revelation:22:16]; [Matthew:2:2]; [Genesis:49:10].
    6. He tells of the destruction of different nations and says, “Alas, who shall live when God doeth this!” [Numbers:24:20-25].

    III Evil Counsel
    1. Through the evil counsel of Balaam, the Midianites enticed many in Israel to sin, [Numbers:31:16]; [Revelation:2:14].
    2. Israel makes war against Midian. Five kings are slain, and Balaam also is slain, [Numbers:31:8].
    3. Peter speaks of cursed children, who speak “evil of dignities,” “having eyes full of adultery.” They shall utterly perish in their own corruption and receive the wages of unrighteousness, [2 Peter:2:10-14].
    4. They have forsaken the right way and followed the way of Balaam, [2 Peter:2:15-16].

    Notes: 

    Determination
    Balak was determined that Balaam should curse Israel. We find that the enemies of the Lord do not give up with one rebuff. The devil is a ruthless foe. When he tempted Jesus in the wilderness, the devil could not get Jesus to yield to His hunger by commanding the stones to be made bread, but he did not give up his efforts. He takes Him next and sets Him on a pinnacle of the Temple. That effort failed. Then he takes Him into an exceedingly high mountain and uses his most subtle temptation, showing Him all the kingdoms of the world, and promises he will give them to Jesus if He will only fall down and worship him. What a wonderful Saviour we have! No power of hell could move Him from God’s way. Earthly fame, wealth, position, and honour were all set aside. His one desire was to do the will of the Father.

    Balak took Balaam from one high mountain to another, each time offering sacrifices. Not knowing God as Balaam did, he hoped that the Lord might be induced to change His mind and curse a people whom He had hitherto determined to bless. Finally, when Balak’s efforts failed, he told Balaam to flee to his place, that, Balak had thought to promote him to honour, “but, lo, the LORD hath kept thee back from honour.” The real child of God would rather have the approving smile of the Lord on his life than any honour the world could give. Whatever might have been in Balaam’s heart at this time, he realised he could not defy whom the Lord had not defied nor curse whom the Lord had not cursed.

    Outstanding Prophecies
    In the words that the Lord put in Balaam’s mouth to speak are some of the most outstanding prophecies we have in the Word of God. His eyes were certainly opened and he saw into the future. These oracles are evident prophecies of the victories, which the Israelites should gain over their enemies and of their firm possession of the Promised Land. They also refer to the great victories to be obtained by the Lord Jesus Christ – that Lion of the tribe of Judah – over sin, death, and Satan. The world has already seen many of these prophecies fulfilled, and we believe we are drawing near to the time when they will all be fulfilled. God is sovereign, and His power is over all. He could cause a dumb beast to speak the language of men to reprove a rebellious seer; and God can, and in this case did, use reluctant lips to speak the praise of the Almighty and of His chosen people. “Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee” (Psalm:76:10).
    “Lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations.” After more than 35 centuries, they are still a distinct people. No man could have foretold that. No other nation or people have been pre-served like that. God alone could foresee, know, and do it.

    A Mighty Hand
    “According to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought!” The nations around were already awaking to the fact that God was with Israel. When the spies went into Jericho, Rahab said, “I know that the LORD hath given you the land . . . and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of he Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.” The people and nations around the Children of Israel realised it was not the wonderful leadership of Moses, nor the strength and might of the people he was leading, that was bringing this people forth to such triumphant victory; but that there was a God in Heaven, whose mighty hand was outstretched in behalf of a people He deigned to bless. Some people can defy God and curse and blaspheme His name, but just let the Lord lift His hand with power and they will tremble and their hearts melt with fear.

    Prophecies Concerning Jesus
    “Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion.” A most wonderful prophecy of Jesus! And when we think of the early era in which it was given, we marvel at the revelation God gave Balaam.

    The planets were all considered emblems of royalty. So when he spoke of a Star arising out of Jacob and a Sceptre out of Israel, he prophesied that a King was coming who would have dominion over all the earth. Several hundred years later, the wise men were guided by a star to the place where that King was born.

    The angel announced to Mary: “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke:1:32, 33). This was spoken to Mary many years after Balaam had his vision. Balaam’s prophetic statement that began: “I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh,” shows that the event of which he and the angel of the Annunciation spoke would take place in some future time. There will come a time when all who have lived must stand before that Sceptre and hear their eternal judgment spoken. “We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ” (Romans:14:10). “I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; . . . and the dead were judged . . . according to their works” (Revelation:20:12).

    Evil Counsel
    After the Lord had so marvellously revealed to Balaam the blessings that would come to Israel in the latter days, that prophet turned aside and, as it were, mockingly revealed to the Midianites how to entice Israel into sin. It is no wonder that Peter and Jude come out with such severely scorching remarks and compare him, and others like him, to clouds without water, carried about of winds; raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever ([2 Peter:2:15-17]; [Jude:1:12-13]).
    Jude also says that the “angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.” Balaam was slain in battle with the enemies of the Lord.

    Warning
    We are warned that in the last days perilous times would come when men would be lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God. When Balaam looked into the future and saw how the Lord would bless Israel in the latter days, he wished his latter end would be like theirs. But we see that he was not willing to pay the price to obtain that blessing. Many people are like Balaam: they would like to have the blessing of the Lord in their latter end and be ushered into Heaven when they pass out of this world. But they want the world while they are living. They are not willing to sacrifice worldly pleasure and honour that they might have eternal life in the end.

    Moses is a fine example of one who is willing to forsake all and follow Jesus. Moses forsook a throne, honour, wealth, and fame, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season (Hebrews:11:25).

    Questions: 

    1. Where did Balak take Balaam to offer sacrifices?
    2. On how many altars did Balak offer sacrifices?
    3. What was Balaam’s sin?
    4.What nation enticed Israel into sin through the evil counsel of Balaam?
    5. What is that Star arising out of Jacob typical of?
    6. What does it mean for a Sceptre to arise out of Israel?
    7. Name some of the prophecies that Balaam gave that have been fulfilled.
    8. Name some of the prophecies that we believe are near fulfilment.