Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: Studies in Numbers - "Desert Grumblings"|
Chapter: Numbers 22
Passage: Numbers 22:1-20
A. Find out :
1. Where had Israel come to? v1
2. Who saw them and how did they respond? v.2-4
3. What message did Balak send to Balaam? v.5-7
4. What happened? v.8-12
5. What followed this? v.13-17
6. How did Balaam respond and what did the Lord say? v.18-20
1. Why did Moab send to Balaam?
2. Why was their request not possible?
3. How, so far, does Balaam seem to respond well?
First the bare facts: Israel have arrived at Moab and Moab are scared so they plan to get a seer to curse Israel . Balaam is known to be a seer and so they send for him. Balaam consults the Lord who tells him that Israel are blessed and cannot be cursed. Balaam sends back the messengers and so more are sent with the promise of riches. Balaam knows the answer now but stalls and consults the Lord again. This time the Lord says go with them but say nothing beyond what he is told. Perhaps the Lord wants to capitalise on the opportunity to speak to this foreign people – but it's also a testing time for Balaam.
Second, we need to understand the matter of curses and blessings for this is a good place to learn. A blessing is simply a divine decree of good. A curse is a divine decree of bad. Note, it is a divine decree, not something men can conjure up. Blessings come with obedience and curses with disobedience (see Deut 28). Balaam could utter a curse but it would have no effect and he knows that he would be going against God's will, for God has only decreed good for Israel , not bad. In all this Balaam is clearly seen as someone who hears the Lord and in this respect he is someone to be consulted, but Balak has to realise that you cannot manipulate God, you can't get God to conform to your will. Prophetic words declare God's will, not man's desires.
1. When God ‘blesses' He is decreeing good for a person or people.
2. Christians are ‘blessed' people.
Chapter: Numbers 22
Passage: Numbers 22:21-41
A. Find out :
1. How did the Lord feel when Balaam went? v.21,22a
2. What did the donkey see that Balaam didn't see? v.22b-27
3. What miracle then occurred? v.28-30
4. What did the angel say to Balaam? v.31-33
5. What was Balaam's response and what was he told to do? v.34,35
6. What did Balaam tell Balak? v. 36-38
7. What then happened? v.39-41
1. What had God said in v.20?
2. Why do you think He was then angry?
3. Observe all the supernatural events of these verses.
We need to grow up in our understanding. Why, some might say, does God give Balaam the go ahead to go and then get angry when he does go? As we read of Moses' encounters with the Lord we saw that the Lord would say things to test him (e.g. 14:12). This was similar to the way the Lord tested Abraham (Gen 22:2). The Lord says something that is NOT his desire to see how we will respond. Thus He sees that Balaam's heart is tempted by the offer of wealth and so He says go. When Balaam does go, the Lord is angry and sends an angel to be an obstacle. We then have this strange incident of the donkey seeing the angel but Balaam can't? Why?
Perhaps it is to give Balaam a sharp lesson and bring him down to earth. If he thinks he is the great seer being summoned to help a king he could lose perspective. Here he's shown two important lessons. First, it's God who brings revelation and He can bring it to a mere donkey if He wishes. That brings the glory of the prophetic down to earth! Second God can put words into the moth of an animal if He wants. He could make Balaam a mere puppet if He wanted to. Have you got the message Balaam? You are merely the messenger boy so don't go getting any ideas above your calling! Any prophets listening?
1. Prophetic words come from God, not man!
2. Prophets are messenger boys, servants!
Chapter: Numbers 23
Passage: Numbers 23:1-12
A. Find out :
1. How did Balaam prepare? v.1-3
2. What then happened? v.4-6
3. How does the oracle begin? v.7
4. What problem does Balaam have? v.8
5. How does he describe Israel ? v.9,10
6. What response and counter response were given? v.11,12
As we've hinted in the questions above, this is really a fruitless task. Why? Because Balaam can only speak what God gives him and he knows that what God will say will run contrary to what Balak wants! From the outset Balak has been clear in his request. He is afraid of Israel and so wants this seer to put a curse on them so that he can beat them in battle. The only problem is that Balak hasn't realised yet that Almighty God is with them and He won't curse His people. Balak seems to be someone who seems to think they can manipulate the gods. That has always been the belief of pagan peoples, that if you do certain things you will be able get the ‘powers' to do what you want them to do, whether that be to ensure your safety or your fertility or your general well-being.
It is superstition. What does superstition mean? A dictionary defines it as “a widely held but unjustified belief in the effects or nature of a thing.” Balak's unjustified belief is that by paying a seer he can bring about a course of events that benefit him, and so when his seer only says positive things about them he is upset. Twice now Balaam has to speak the same message: I can only say what God says ( 22:38 & 23:12), but he can't seem to convince Balak, so it carries on!
Chapter: Numbers 23
Passage: Numbers 23:13-26
A. Find out :
1. What happened before the next oracle? v.13-17
2. What did Balaam declare first of all? v.18-20
3. What was not seen in Israel and why? v.21,22
4. What will not work and why? v.23
5. How does he describe Israel ? v.24
6. What interchange follows? v.25,26
1. What truth is declared about God in this passage?
2. How does that impact upon Balaam?
3. So what only can he declare?
You some times have to laugh at unbelievers. Balak is having a bad time. In his world you can manipulate the gods to get them to do what you want them to do. In Balaam's world it isn't like that; you cannot manipulate God! He is the Lord and He requires us to conform to His will, not the other way round. Try changing your viewing position, is Balak's next suggestion, in his desire to get an outcome to his liking. He goes through the same ritual but doesn't get a good word as far as he's concerned.
First of all comes a declaration about God: He doesn't change His mind. Now there may be times in Scripture when you see God does change His mind, but it is only to conform to the change in men before Him. He may declare judgement but when repentance follows, the judgement is removed. That is the way it happens, but until there is some change like that, God will not change His mind, so here in this situation He's not going to suddenly turn round and curse a people He has declared He's going to bless. God determines blessing for Israel so only good will follow that. Later they may move into disobedience, but that's another story. For the time being all Balaam can see is a strong nation that is going to swallow up its enemies. That is the last thing Balak wants to hear!
1. God decrees His will and doesn't change it.
Chapter: Numbers 23
Passage: Numbers 23:27-24:11
A. Find out :
1. What did Balak think and what did Balaam instruct? v.27-30
2. How did Balaam proceed this time and what happened? v.1,2
3. What does he first describe? v.3,4
4. How does he describe Israel ? v.5-7
5. What more does he say about them? v.8,9
6. What is Balak's response? v.10,11
1. How does the preparation for this oracle differ from the previous two?
2. How does God move differently?
3. How would you sum up the oracle?
On the third time around our attention is drawn to the way the two men go about getting ‘a word'. Balak is still under the impression that it's merely a case of getting the circumstances right so, “Try somewhere else.” Verse 1 of the next chapter is intriguing. Previously Balaam had obviously used ‘sorcery', simply meaning he used secret methods to get God's attention – that's how he saw it at least. Balaam is not one of God's prophets; he's a seer who God will speak to.
Now here is something: the Lord will speak to whoever comes listening to Him! He won't say what they want Him to say, but He will speak. Obviously in the previous times, Balaam had also had the mentality that perhaps you could get God to change His mind, for on this occasion he knows there's no point trying to change what is clearly God's will. So this time he comes with a straight forward open mind. It is perhaps for this reason that the Spirit of the Lord comes down upon him, a much more intimate encounter with the Lord. Previously he'd just had a sense of what God wanted to say. This time he's caught up in the passion of the word – that is obvious as you look at the language used. It is clearly another very obvious blessing of Israel, except more passionately so, and Balak realises that and is ready to give up! Balak is giving up but the Lord isn't – there is yet more to come.
1. God will talk to whoever seeks Him, but He won't be manipulated.
2. Seeking God? Come without an agenda. Come with an open heart.
Chapter: Numbers 24
Passage: Numbers 24:12-25
A. Find out :
1. What does Balaam reiterate and then say? v.12-14
2. Of whom does he then prophesy? v.17-19
3. Of whom does he then declare what? v.20
4. And who does he then turn and prophesy about? v.21,22
5. What does he say in his final word? v.23,24
1. Without worrying about locations, what do these last revelations say?
2. What particularly is said in verses 17-19?
Balak has asked Balaam to produce a single curse against Israel but finds he is actually encountering the Lord. Now we saw that the Holy Spirit had come upon Balaam (24:2) and so Balak may think this is the end but the Lord has other ideas and Balaam keeps on prophesying now.
In verses 17 to 19 he finds himself prophesying about a coming One who will come out of Judah, who will be a ruler and a conqueror. Most are of the opinion that this is a messianic reference through this ‘out on the periphery' prophet. However it also includes warning of the demise of Edom to the south of Moab .
But he doesn't stop there. He looks south and sees the land of the Amalakites, who thought themselves first among the nomadic tribes and declares their end (v.20). This was finally concluded in Hezekiah's time (1 Chron 4:43). He then looks to the south west across the dead sea valley to the land where a tribe called the Kenites lived and declared their end by another tribe from the south (v.21,22). Finally continuing to look to the south and the west he warns that invaders will come from Cyprus (?) and will deal with these southern nomadic tribes. There is in all this a strong sense of foreknowledge and by now Balak must have been panicking, possibly thinking, “Stop, stop before you get to us!” Fortunately for him Balaam doesn't include Moab in these prophecies; it's as if the Lord disdains or ignores them. The warning has come to many others: don't feel secure in your godlessness, your end will come!
1. The Lord sees and knows all things. He IS the Lord!
2. The Lord brings warnings in the hope of repentance.
A. Find out :
1. What next happened which led on to what? v.1-3a
2. How was it to be dealt with? v.3b-5
3. But what then happened right in front of them? v.6
4. How was that dealt with? v.7,8
5. Yet what was the outcome? v.9
6. What instructions did the Lord give? v.10-13,16-18
1. How did one sin lead on to another sin?
2. What three judgements appear in this passage?
3. How do they apply to different groups?
We cannot comprehend the awfulness of this passage unless we see the whole of Israel 's subsequent history and the part that idolatry played in it. Idolatry was the thing that meant that a person or the nation had abandoned God, had abandoned the covenant, and therefore ceased to be the people of God. It occurred again and again, seen principally at the end of Solomon's life, then in northern Israel and finally cropping up again and again to become the eventual cause of the Exile.
In Rev 2:14 Jesus says it was Balaam who counselled Balak how to lead Israel astray and weaken her. Moabite women seduced some of the men and got them to worship their idols as well. This could potentially have been the beginning of the end of the covenant people if it wasn't stopped; that's how important this is. Thus judgement is brought against it from the outset. First Moses is told to hang the leaders who should have known better (v.4). Moses goes to extend this to include everyone who had joined in, but already the plague from God is striking people down – eventually twenty four thousand of them! At the same time, one local leader (v.14) has actually had the temerity to bring a Midianite woman home (Midianites and Moabites were very close). It is only the zealous action of Phinehas that stops further devastation. Midianites are to be seen as the enemy from now on.
1. Do we understand the awful contagious potential of sin?
2. Do we understand the potential destructive nature of sin?
In this fifth group of 7 studies we have seen :
These chapters are reassuring: curses only come as God permits, and if He decrees blessing (good) for His people (which He does), no matter who says to the contrary, only good applies. Balak is superstitious and wants bad for Israel who is a threat. Balaam will only bring what God gives him, so it doesn't matter how many times he asks, the answer will always be the same. God cannot be manipulated; He decides what He will and no pagan unbeliever will change His mind!
1. A blessing is a divine decree of good from heaven.
2. A curse is a divine decree of bad from heaven.
3. Curses & blessings only apply as God decrees them.
4. Prophets speak only what God gives.
Thank the Lord that in Christ we ARE blessed.
PART 6 : "Closing Scenes" Numbers 27-35
In this final Part we will see the Lord telling Moses that his time is up and Joshua being appointed to take his place as the one to lead the nation into the Promised Land. We'll also see instructions being given to deal with the Midianites who previously seduced Israel and then final instructions given about settling to the east of the Jordan and providing for the Levites in the land. Closing stages!