230 – Balaam’s Third Prophecy

Since our study of Numbers brings us to an article I wrote in 2017 I elected to reprint it this week. 

We come to the third time Balak, King of Moab implores Balaam to curse Israel. Predictably, God places a word of blessing for Israel in Balaam’s mouth, not the sentence of demise Balak is hoping to hear. Let’s work our way through this seven verse passage.

Numbers 24:3-9

     Then he took up his oracle and said:

    “The utterance of Balaam the son of Beor,

    The utterance of the man whose eyes are opened,

           4       The utterance of him who hears the words of God,

    Who sees the vision of the Almighty,

    Who falls down, with eyes wide open:

           5       “How lovely are your tents, O Jacob!

    Your dwellings, O Israel!

           6       Like valleys that stretch out,

    Like gardens by the riverside,

    Like aloes planted by the LORD,

    Like cedars beside the waters.

           7       He shall pour water from his buckets,

    And his seed shall be in many waters.

    “His king shall be higher than Agag,

    And his kingdom shall be exalted.

           8       “God brings him out of Egypt;

    He has strength like a wild ox;

    He shall consume the nations, his enemies;

    He shall break their bones

    And pierce them with his arrows.

           9       ‘He bows down, he lies down as a lion;

    And as a lion, who shall rouse him?’

    “Blessed is he who blesses you,

    And cursed is he who curses you.” (NKJV)

In verses three and four we observe Balaam referring to himself in the third person, why? It seems Balaam is being personally affected each time he hears himself repeat the words God has spoken in his ear. I’m sure it felt like a third-person experience for Balaam as he was very literally being used by God as a mouthpiece.

Balaam informs us he had experienced a paradigm shift. His perspective has changed. The way he looks at things has been radically affected. Balaam contrasted his previous and later perspectives when he said, “my eyes have been open”. It’s as if he was saying, I’ve been walking around like a blind man, but now God has opened my eyes. What do I see now with my newly opened eyes?

The answer is found in verse 5.

Numbers 24:5      

5     How lovely are your tents, O Jacob! Your dwellings, O Israel! (NKJV)

Consider the following quote.

“How goodly are thy tents, … O Israel!—a fine burst of admiration, expressed in highly poetical strains. All travellers describe the beauty which the circular area of Bedouin tents impart to the desert. How impressive, then, must have been the view, as seen from the heights of Abarim, of the immense camp of Israel extended over the subjacent plains.”

Jamieson, Robert, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. Vol. 1. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997. Print.

The tents would not have been of the modern-day rectangular type we are familiar with, but rather like the round tents of the nomadic people called bedouins.

Exposure to the Word of God most certainly changes a person’s perspective. As if our eyes are suddenly opened, we can see a people God has His hand on in a different light. We can see them as beautiful when we previously would have considered them worthy of a curse, not a blessing.

How do you view the people around you? When you consider the nation of Israel, for example, how do you see them? Do you see them as a beautiful nation blessed by God?

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