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.
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,
King Balak has responded to the cries of his people. They were “sick with dread” because of Israel (Numbers 22:3). He comes up with a brilliant plan to defeat this seemingly unstoppable nation. Recognizing his inferior position, Balak realizes to gain the upper hand, Israel must be cursed. He employs Balaam, the best-known diviner of the time, to call down the curse upon the warrior nation. Balaam opens his mouth to curse Israel but a blessing comes out instead.
Numbers 23:13-26 records King Balak’s second demand for a curse against Israel and the end ...
If you clicked the link a the end of last week's post it took you to a post I wrote some years ago about Balaam's first prophecy. I know this is unusual and maybe a bit clumsy, but I linked to it because that's where we find ourselves in the book of Numbers and I wasn't sure there would be much value in re-writing the post. This link will take you to the conclusion of Balaam's first prophecy.
You know, I'm becoming increasingly convinced that it is critical we approach the scriptures expecting a literal message from Yahweh to be interpreted literally by us. If we ...
A different kind of post
This week I wanted to reveal to my audience my motivations for writing devotional posts every week, which by the way, is something I thoroughly love doing. I’m spending time on this because I believe it may be of great encouragement to some. Like most things, my motivations as they are today have evolved and matured over time, but I’ll spare you all the details of that process.
I’ve learned to study the Bible
Today I write because I have learned (and am still learning) how to consistently read, study, and dare I say understand ...
Continuing our study of the book of Numbers, we find ourselves still in chapter twenty two. In this familiar story, we know something about King Balak, the Moabites he rules, and the Midianites who joined him in alliance against Israel. We were introduced to the diviner for hire named Balaam. Let’s pick up the narrative starting in verse twenty two.
Numbers 22:22-27 (LEB)
22 But God became angry because he was going, and the angel of Yahweh stood in the road as an adversary to him; he was riding on his donkey, and two servants were with him.
23 The ...
Last time we were introduced to the man Balaam in Numbers 22:5-7. Among the details we discovered that Balaam was not an Israelite, and he was not from the two cities forming an alliance against Israel, namely Moab and Midian. And yet, as Numbers 22:18 informs Balaam confesses God as, “the LORD [Yahweh] my God [Elohim].”
In Numbers chapter 22 we see a contrast between the earthly King and his word to Balaam, versus Yahweh (the universal King) and His Word to Balaam. The earthly King says, “curse Israel”, Yahweh says no, “bless Israel”.
Let’s revisit ...
Do you know the saying, “familiarity breeds contempt”? According Wordnik.com (https://www.wordnik.com/words/contempt), contempt means, “The feeling or attitude of regarding someone or something as inferior, base, or worthless; scorn.” I think all too often when we encounter a familiar passage of scripture we become dismissive thinking, “I’ve heard this stuff so many times it’s worthless for me to pay attention.
You may be thinking, “everybody knows the story of the talking donkey. I know what Mark is going to say, ‘if God ...
Last time we talked about Numbers 22:1-3 where we were introduced to Balak king of Moab. As I was studying for this week I noticed a little detail in the text that gave me pause. I realized there probably was no pot of theological gold at the end of the rainbow, but I felt I needed to sate my curiosity, so I chased it down a bit.
Let’s look at the text, then I’ll tell you what I noticed.
2 Now Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites.
3 And Moab was exceedingly afraid of the people because they were many, ...
Today we start into Numbers chapter 22. It could be said it is a continuation of Israel conquering people groups on their way into the promised land. But this chapter feels different. It seems like there is so much more detail here than the previous chapter. When we make an observation like that it’s often a good idea to keep it in mind as we study our way through - we may be able, with careful observation, to identify why the change in the narrative occurred.
To start with I want to consider a single phrase in verse one, or more specifically one word. ...
Moses and the Israelites are fast approaching the end of their forty years of wandering through the wilderness. There are a few more significant battles to be won before they cross over. The next passage for us to consider is Numbers 21:33-35.
33 And they turned and went up by the way to Bashan. So Og king of Bashan went out against them, he and all his people, to battle at Edrei.
34 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Do not fear him, for I have delivered him into your hand, with all his people and his land; and you shall do to him as you did to Sihon king of the ...