God is determined to accomplish His promises. While it might seem as if God has forsaken some of His promises, or is taking too long to fulfill them, He is right on time, and right on top of all His oaths. The scriptures show that God is unwavering concerning His promises, which can be seen in the ways that He deals with Israel. The scriptures show that historically, God has demonstrated tremendous resolve when it comes to the promises that He made to Abraham. God swore upon Himself to give the descendants of Abraham a great land inheritance, make them a great nation, and bless all of the families of the earth through them. The scriptures show that God went tremendous lengths to ensure these promises were continually fulfilled.
In Numbers 27:1-11 the Bible documents an instance where a group of Israelites were mistakenly excluded from sharing in a land inheritance. Though the children of Israel had not yet overtaken the Promised Land, Moses made efforts to prepare the people to evenly and fairly distribute the land according to tribe size. The Lord commanded Moses to take a census to measure the size of each tribe, and the size of each tribe would ultimately determine the size of the land inheritance each family received. However, Number 27:1-11 explains that there was a family from the tribe of Manasseh that was excluded from the census, thereby neglecting them from a land inheritance. The scriptures explain that there was a family of 4 daughters whose father did not have any sons. This would have provided an issue in ancient Hebrew culture since a family inheritance was designated to go to the sons, not the daughters. Since there were no sons in this family, these four daughters were afraid of being left out of the promises of God.
The Bible explains that these women went together to approach Moses and explain their situation. They explained who their father was in order to verify that he would have been qualified to receive a portion of land from the Lord being a descendant of Manasseh. The daughters also explained that their father did not join in the rebellion against the Lord with Korah, but died in the wilderness as a man in his own natural sin. Therefore, he would have been no different than any of the other people that were qualified to receive an inheritance. The problem was that there was no son and thus, this family was indirectly being cut off from the promises of God. When Moses learned of this situation, he did the appropriate thing and took the case before the Lord to receive His wisdom and counsel.
The scriptures describe God as being fair and just. Hence, as Moses described the circumstances to the Lord in prayer, the Lord responded in His righteousness and awarded a land inheritance to the daughters. God declared that it would have been unfair for the family to be cut off from His promises concerning the land just because this particular man did not have a son. While some have accused the scriptures of presenting God as sexist, this testimony hardly shows that to be the case. The Lord judged in favor of the four women and included them in the inheritance by commanding Moses to allow the daughters to share in the inheritance of their uncle. Thus, the family plot was divided evenly so that all of God’s people were included in His promises.
Additionally, the scriptures explain that God took the liberty to have Moses command another statute concerning land inheritances. God told Moses how to divide up the land and take care of land inheritances for future generations to ensure that the children of Israel maintained possession of the land. God stated that if there were ever any other instances where there was no son to receive an inheritance, the land was to be given over to the daughter. If there was no daughter, then the land was to be given over to the father’s brothers. If the father had no brothers, then the land was to be given over to the next closest blood relative.
The reason that God took the liberty to communicate these things to Moses was to ensure that the people of Israel maintained a fair and equal distribution of the land. God did not want portions of the land falling through the cracks of technicalities so that land was going unclaimed, being left up for grabs. This was God’s land that He swore to give to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The basis of God’s promise concerning the land was eternal. Hence, God wanted to ensure that His people maintained possession of the land that He was giving. It was important to Him that Israel maintained possession of the land throughout their generations as evidence of His faithfulness to fulfill His eternally unconditional promises.
The extra commands that God gave show God’s attention to detail and the fairness He showed to include women in the laws of inheritances expresses God’s desire to ensure His people maintained possession of the Promised Land to show the world that He is faithful and able to fulfill eternally unconditional promises. These extra bits of the Law communicate God’s desire to keep His possession in the hands of His people so that His people have clear guidelines to follow to ensure the integrity of God’s work concerning His promises. God responded in fairness to the benefit of the four daughters because ultimately, their possession of the land shows that God is able to do as He originally communicated to Abraham. As God is able to fulfill the promises made to Abraham, the world is given definitive proof that He is able to fulfill even greater promises concerning forgiveness of sins and eternal life! Praise God!
The methods of the Lord’s work are always fair. The righteousness of God can simply be seen in the fairness of His works. The judgments of God can be trusted because He is always fair. It is true that many people might not always agree on such a truth, but that false perception doesn’t change God’s righteous position. In fact, those who criticize the fairness of the Lord usually don’t take into the account the overwhelming amount of patience, mercy, and grace that God shows on a daily basis, usually don’t consider God’s eternal perspective, and have a tendency to look at circumstances from a subjective perspective rather than through the objective lens of scripture. The Bible provides a great deal amount of evidences to states God’s fairness and gives many examples to prove God’s fair nature as true.
The fairness of God is put on clear display in Numbers 26:52-65. In this portion of scripture the Bible documents three phases of God’s works before He assembles the people to enter into the Promised Land by the leadership of Joshua. The Lord first commanded Moses to take a second census of the people to show that the population was relatively intact despite the horrible rebellion and unfaithfulness the people showed God. However, as God was able to deliver the perfect amounts of judgment for the sins of the people, God also showed restraint to ensure the integrity of His promises towards the nation as a whole. Therefore, Numbers 26:52-65 explains that God called Moses to Himself to remind Moses about how the land was to be divided amongst the people. God judged the people who needed to be judged. God allowed the consequence of sin to infect the people that desired to live in it. As that work was completed, God preserved a portion of Israel that He appointed as heirs to the promises He made to Abraham. A generation would go into the Promised Land and receive their inheritance.
As the Lord communicated His desire, He commanded Moses about how the land should be broken up and distributed. God desired the distribution to be fair. God plainly communicated that the large tribes/families should have large areas of land and that the smaller tribes/families should have smaller portions of land. God did not want any particular family hording possessions to themselves. God was not interested in the concept of over-consumption where “the few” are privileged to take over that which “the majority” is in need of. Today it is not uncommon to see small families living in huge spaces while large families are crammed into smaller spaces. God was not in favor of this type of system. God wanted the needs of each person to be met according to the legitimacy of the need and did not want people indulging in excess.
Additionally, Numbers 26:52-65 reminded the people about the inheritance of the Levites. The Lord called Moses to Himself to remind Moses that the Levites were not to receive a land inheritance. Since the entire Levitical tribe was to be set apart from the people and dedicated to the facilitation of worship in the tabernacle/temple, and was in charge of administrating sacrifices and offerings around the camp, they were entitled to partake of the meats and grains that were being offered. In other words, the jobs that God gave them entitled them to free food for their families. Hence, in the interest of fairness, God did not want the Levites to have double benefit. God did not want the Levites to have total ownership over all things to cause spite and bitterness amongst the other people of Israel. More importantly, God exercised His ability to be fair in order to also be practical. The Lord did not want the Levites focused on tending the land. God wanted the Levites to be focused on tending the spiritual needs of the people. This shows that it is incredibly difficult, if not impossible in some circumstances for a person to do both. Therefore, God made it so that the Levites could have focus on the spiritual jobs they were appointed, and were instructed to share the land of their brothers.
Lastly, Numbers 26:52-65 explains that God also showed fairness to the generation of Israelites that was delivered from Egypt. God considered all of the complaints, the rebellion, and the unbelief of those people and came to the justified conclusion that those people would not enter into the Promised Land. God did extraordinary work to deliver that generation of Israelites from the bondage of Egypt. Those Israelites proceeded to complain against God’s provision, question His faithfulness, doubt His presence, and desire their previous enslaved position. In essence, the people spent 40 years expressing their distaste for God, His provision, and His promises. Hence, in fairness, God would not force those people to receive that which they expressed no interest in. God would not force-feed that generation of Israelites. Numbers 26:52-65 candidly expresses the heart of God and shows that He would not give the benefits of His promises to people that do not genuinely desire them. The generation of Israelites that were delivered from Egypt did much to doubt and provoke the Lord to anger, including worship false gods, expressing their displeasure for God and His promises. Only Caleb and Joshua remained faithful to God and expressed a desire for the things of God through their faith and obedience to God’s Word.
The scriptures show that God expresses His fairness in a variety of ways. God is equal. God is considerate. God does not play favorites. God is balanced in His decision-making. The scriptures also show that God is fair in order to be faithful. God did not force an unfaithful generation to trust in that which they did not want. That first generation of Israelites to go into the wilderness wanted the world and the things of it, so God, being fair, gave them the desires of their hearts and all of the horrible consequences that went with it. However, God exercised His power in judgment to purge the sin of Israel this way, keeping those people out of the Promised Land, and allowing only those who desired Him to experience the blessings and pleasures that come from His provision. Praise the Lord for His fairness!
The judgments of God are very real. Likewise, the faithfulness of God is very real. The amazing thing about God is His ability to administrate perfect judgment against His people without compromising His ability to fulfill His eternally unconditional promises. When God is forced to discipline His people in such a way that His discipline comes by death, the death of His people never affects God’s ability to honor the eternally unconditional promises that He made to His people. There is no act of misconduct or collective works of iniquity that causes God to compromise His perfect judgment or His merciful and gracious nature. The scriptures show that, no matter what God does, His actions are always in line with His character and nature, showing that God truly does not change!
This powerful truth is proven through the second census that was taken in the Book of Numbers. In Numbers 26:1-51 the Bible explains that God commanded Moses to take another census of the people. After setting His people up in the region of Moab across from the Jordan River, God commanded that the people be counted. The Lord had moved His people into position in the plains of Jericho on the eastern side of the Jordan River. The Lord was preparing to fulfill His promise to bring His people into the Land of Canaan. The Book of Joshua shows that Israel moved into the Promised Land through Jericho, so the placement of Israel at the time of the second census shows that they were in position to enter into the next phase of God’s plan. Therefore, the second census becomes significant. The second census of Israel becomes the observable proof that God is faithful to fulfill His promises to make Israel into a great nation in the land of Canaan.
The scriptures show that after all of the males who were 20 years old and older were counted, in the same manner as the first census, Eleazar the high priest counted 601,730 people of all the tribes, with the exception of the tribe of Levi, which was also excluded from the first census. In the first census, Aaron (Eleazar’s father and the high priest previously) counted 603,550 people in Israel. This means that in the 40-year period of wandering through the wilderness, there was only a difference of 1,820 people! Though the children of Israel were repeatedly disobedient throughout the 40-year journey, the children of Israel were essentially the same population by the end of their trek. Though the children of Israel were judged several times for unfaithfulness and rebellion so that many were killed while in the wilderness, the population remained relatively the same.
The census of Numbers 26:1-51 emphasizes this truth by recounting the events of the rebellion of Korah and his family. The scriptures testify that, though Korah and his family rebelled causing God to judge them, the family remained intact. Though the earth opened up to swallow up a great number of people, God allowed the family to remain intact. Though the rebellion of Korah and his tribe against Moses was reflective of his rebellion against God, and God would have been just to completely dissolve his family, God demonstrated mercy and his family line remained intact as part of the congregation of Israel.
The scriptures remind readers that 250 men died in that one instance. The scriptures are sure to recount the disobedience of a rebellious people and the severe consequences that were suffered. However, in that the population of Israel was generally the same at the end of their 40-year journey through the wilderness, the Bible shows that God is able to sufficiently administrate judgment to those who deserve it without affecting the integrity of the big-picture promises. God was able to judge in anger while also demonstrating mercy. He destroyed Korah and many others for rebellion and unfaithfulness in anger and judgment, but also displayed mercy by allowing the family lines to continue on to the next generation as part of the congregation of Israel. God is incredibly unique in this way, having a perfect understanding of justice and fairness, but not at the expense of patience, mercy, and grace. Thus, while justice was served, the second census of Israel proves that God’s work to fulfill His eternally unconditional promises could continue on. Praise God!
The Bible teaches that God will not be mocked (Galatians 6:7). There are many that feel they can respond against God and the people of God as if God will not be responsive to such activity. The Bible provides an ample amount of proof that this is not true. While God might not respond immediately, the scriptures always show that God will eventually respond against things and people that are a threat to His people and to His name. God makes plenty of promises to protect His people in order to protect the integrity of His faithfulness. Therefore, those that oppose God by opposing His people will meet unfortunate consequence at some point in time.
The scriptures prove this reality to be true in Numbers 25:16-18. While the children of Israel were dwelling in the land of Midian, the Bible explains that the Israelites began to develop intimate relationships and eventually began worshiping their false gods - especially Baal of Peor. God became angry. Having previously warned His people about this, and having given His people the Law that prohibited the worship of false gods, the Lord God Almighty immediately responded against Israel with a plague that killed 24,000 people! Additionally, the Bible explains that Phinehas the high priest took matters in his own hands. Motivated by zeal to uphold the holiness, righteousness, and justice of God, Phinehas discovered the source of the Midianite problem and ran a javelin through the Midianite woman and the man that she was with. God was pleased with the heart of Phinehas to purge the camp of Israel from such sin and so He relented from the plague.
After these events took place, Numbers 25:16-18 explains that God commanded Moses to take further action. Midian had brought corruption into the camp of Israel. God was determined to make them pay for their sin. God commanded Moses to prepare to attack the Midianites. God’s specific words were:
“Harass the Midianites and attack then: for they harassed you with their schemes by which they seduced you in the matter of Peor...”
God commanded the children of Israel to “harass” the Midianites because the Midianites harassed them. God was delivering fair justice. The original language defines the word “harass” in such a way that God desired the people of Israel to consider the people of Midian as enemies. The Lord wanted the children of Israel to show hostility towards the people of Midian for trying to corrupt their relationship with the Lord. God wanted the children of Israel to express the same sort of zeal for holiness that Phinehas did. The Lord wanted the children of Israel to purge the people of Midian, understanding the wicked motives of the people and the spiritual dangers that they posed.
The Bible explains that the people of Midian sought to “seduce” the children of Israel. The original language teaches that the people of Midian sought to be deceitful and crafty with the Israelites. This means that, while they were seeking to befriend them at the time, they were only disguising wicked intentions. The people of Midian had no interest in befriending the people of Israel. God knew this and the extent of their wicked intents was seen in that they swiftly pulled some of Israel away from the Lord by encouraging them to worship false gods. Knowing this, one can see that the conduct of Midian reflects the conduct of the devil. The devil seeks to use deceitful and crafty ways to pull the people of God away from Him by luring them into the worship of anything except God. The Lord understood this and so instructed Moses to address the matter by going to war against them.
Numbers 25:16-18 shows that God will not sit idle while His people are enticed into deception. God will not allow the enemy and the people he uses to overcome His people on account of the promises God has made. The Lord made incredibly important and special promises to the children of Israel. While the Lord was just to destroy 24,000 Israelites for worshiping Baal, the Lord would not allow the devil to take all of His people. Therefore, seeing the extent of spiritual warfare that was taking place while the Israelites were in Midian, God commanded Moses to undergo efforts to purge the people of Midian. God would remove the threat against His people by taking an offensive approach against the enemy. The Lord God would defend His people and the future of their spiritual health by taking an offensive stand against the people that posed threats to the spiritual nourishment of His people. Those who seek to deceive the people of God are not so crafty to fool God. He sees everything and knows everything. Thankfully, the people of God can see and rest assured that He is faithful to aggressively respond against the threats of His people to protect their spiritual integrity. This is why nothing can separate God’s people from His love; because He is proactively responsive against threats to His people and will not be mocked by His enemies.
The Bible makes is clear how one is expected to please God. Since God is almighty and sovereign above all, one is expected to follow His prescription concerning worship and service. One does not have the liberty to come up with one’s own ways of pleasing God based on one’s personal perception of Him. The Bible clearly communicates who God is and makes it clear that, as a holy God, He deserves to honored in a certain way. The way that God desires to be honored is through sanctification. God is holy and commanded His people to be holy as well. Thus, God expects that one would honor Him by seeking to deny one’s self and the temptation of the world to flee from sin in order that a person might be joined to Him. God is pleased and excited by the passion one demonstrates to be with Him and exalt Him through one’s efforts to purge sin from one’s life.
The Old Testament has plenty of examples about situations in which sin overtook the nation of Israel. In Numbers 25:1-15 the Bible documents one of those instances. After God was done dealing with Balak and Balaam, the Bible explains that the children of Israel fell into temptation while residing temporarily in the land of Moab. The children of Israel began to engage with the Moabite women, and the Bible declares that the Israelite people started to engage with the Moabite gods shortly thereafter. God had warned the children of Israel about mingling with the people of pagan nations in intimate ways. The Bible shows that God often predicted that if the people of God sought to develop intimate relationships with pagans, they would soon adopt their worship practices of false gods, which God absolutely despises! Sure enough, Numbers 25:1-15 explains that this is exactly what happened amongst the Israelite camp. Their desire to fulfill the lusts of their flesh eventually led them to a place where they were denying the Living God by worshiping and sacrificing to false gods and participating in wicked pagan practices.
Though God prophesied through Balaam that He would practice patience with Israel and see to their complete sanctification, God responded against their sin. It is true that God confessed through Balaam that the Israelites were without iniquity, however God was speaking from His eternal perspective, explaining that His sanctifying work would eventually be effective. The testimony of Numbers 25:1-15 explains the extent of God’s sanctifying power, seeing the extent of Israel’s sin. The scriptures state that God brought a great plague amongst the children of Israel in response to their spiritual harlotry. The anger of the Lord was aroused, and God responded swiftly and harshly against them. This shows that when people seek to worship other gods, the anger of the Creator will be displayed. God is a jealous God so that when He sees His people “cheating” on Him with other gods, He will respond. God is not to be mocked.
The scriptures explain that God instructed Moses to take the leaders of each of the tribes and hang them before Him in the middle of the day for all to see. This was in addition to the plague that He had set out. God wanted the people to learn that death is the consequence for those that would deny God and His sovereign authority by seeking to worship something else. God held the leaders and judges of the individual tribes of Israel responsible as they were supposed to uphold the righteousness of God within their tribes. They had failed. They had allowed spiritual harlotry to come into the camp of Israel. They had allowed their own people to participate in wicked relationships to pursue fleshly lusts. They had allowed their own people to reject Yahweh and exalt fake gods and foolishness. God appointed these people to keep the children of Israel from doing these very things and expected them to be an example. They had failed in their responsibility, considering it as no big deal. Thus, they would pay the wages of their sin.
There was one man that took his responsibility very seriously. There was one man that understood the holy nature of God and sought to uphold His integrity by example to a great degree. Numbers 25:1-15 explains that Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron saw the sin that was taking place amongst his people and responded. The scriptures state that he noticed an Israelite man and a Moabite woman being intimate with one another. Phinehas took a javelin and ran both of them through with it, immediately killing both of them. Phinehas was not commanded to do so. His response was not coordinated with Moses and God’s command to hang the leaders of the tribes of Israel. Phinehas simply took it upon himself, seeking to purge the sin from amongst his people by killing the practitioners of spiritual harlotry. God was pleased!
Numbers 25:1-15 explains that God was pleased with the violent actions of Phinehas. It is important to understand why. God clearly communicates why He was pleased. The Bible testifies that God considered the anger of Phinehas as similar to His own anger. God considered the response of Phinehas as zeal for the holiness, righteousness, and justice of God. The Lord looked past the action and into the heart of Phinehas so that the scriptures attribute the heart of Phinehas as being similar to the heart of Messiah. Upon seeing the zealous response of Phinehas, God caused the plague to stop. Though 24,000 people had died from the plague, the deaths of the two people that Phinehas killed on account of God’s righteousness caused the plague to cease. In this way, their deaths were as propitiation. The anger of Phinehas, being reflective of the anger of the Lord, caused two people to die in a substitutionary sort of way, which was sufficient to please the Lord. Since one of Israel’s own people sought to exalt the righteous and holy judgment of God, especially as the high priest, God was pleased and relented from His plague.
Upon seeing the actions of Phinehas, the Bible explains that God also responded by making a “covenant of peace” with the people. God was pleased with the zeal of the high priest – to take a stand for God’s righteousness by purging sin in order to exalt the holy nature of Yahweh. Thus, God promised that One would come as Phinehas to do as Phinehas did. God was referring to Messiah. In response to the work of Phinehas to purge the sin from the camp of Israel, God promised that One would come to serve as high priest forever. Keeping things in context, it is important to consider that the Messiah God promised would bring peace through violence in the manner of Phinehas. One would come on the premise of death, but that death would be substitutionary in nature to appease the Father, purging sin from God’s people. This is propitiation. The One God promised as Messiah would come with zeal to exalt the holy nature of the Father by purging the sins of God’s people with violence. The Bible explains that Jesus is the propitiation for the entire world – that is, He is the One that satisfies God’s judgment upon those who deserve death for sin (Hebrews 2:17, 1 John 4:10).
Jesus accomplished this in the same manner as Phinehas displayed – through violence. While Phinehas exercised his authority as high priest to purge sin from the people of God through death, running sinners through with a javelin, Jesus exercised a greater form of violence having greater zeal for God’s will. The violence that Jesus demonstrated was taken upon Himself as He gave Himself as a sacrifice, allowing Himself to be pierced through for the purpose of satisfying God’s anger and wrath against His people. This is what pleases God. The Bible shows, using Jesus as an example, that God is pleased by the zeal that His people show to purge sin from the lives of His people by dying to self in order to exalt the holy righteousness of God. God is pleased by the passionate desire to be sanctified from sin and the drastic Spirit-led measures one employs to do so. God is pleased by one’s efforts to be holy as He is holy, apart from sin when one zealously models one’s life after Jesus and His purpose as Messiah.
The Bible explains that God is faithful. The Lord made a 3-fold eternally unconditional promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3, and the rest of the Bible is dedicated to documenting the work God does to fulfill that promise. God promised that the children of Israel would be a great nation, have a great land inheritance, and bless all of the families of the world through “the blessing,” referring to Messiah. The reason that this promise to Abraham is so important in scripture is because it is connected to the work that God does to reveal Messiah and deal with sin. The evidence that the Bible provides of God’s faithfulness to fulfill this promise then becomes a critical factor to build one’s trust in God to deal with sin. As one observes God’s work through Israel, one can rest assured that God is able and willing to fulfill His promises concerning Messiah and sin.
The issue of sin is a difficult subject. The Bible teaches that the sins of the world are so great, that no human is able to deal with it on their own, and no collective group effort can pay for the debt that sin causes. Therefore, no one can escape the consequence of sin, which is death. The Bible teaches that the extent of sins that mankind has committed against God are so great that He would have to deal with sin Himself. Hence, expecting mankind to trust in Him, God must prove that He is qualified to deal with such a huge work and that He is faithful to stay committed to such a work no matter the magnitude or difficult associated with it. The prophecies of Balaam in the Book of Numbers offer some of the proof that God seeks to give to His people. While the king of a great nation, the Moabites, sought to curse the children of Israel in order to defeat them in battle, the repeated efforts of Balak were met with failure while God exalted Himself and His people. Balaam’s last prophecy shows that God’s work to exalt His people according to His promises would extend past Moab and into other “great nations” to show that God is greater and able to do as promised.
In Numbers 24:20-25 Balaam took the opportunity to prophecy against two other people groups while he was prophesying against Moab. Though Balak the king of Moab desired the children of Israel to be cursed, God filled Balaam with His Spirit to speak about His promises, His faithfulness to fulfill them, His strength to do so through Messiah, and then proclaimed the extent of victory He would bring. Moab would not be the only nation to fall. God wanted Balak to understand the extent of His power. God wanted Balak to understand the magnitude of work He was determined to do. God wanted to put the world on notice that He was in charge and that He was determined to do exactly what He promised Abraham He would do nearly 1,000 years before. God did so by using Balaam to prophesy against two other powerful nations – the Amalekites and the Kenites.
In Numbers 24:20-25 the Bible explains that both the Amalekites and the Kenites were well-established people groups. They were native inhabitants to the land of Canaan and had been settled in the land for quite some time. Balaam’s prophecy explains that Amalek was “first amongst the nations.” This means that the Amalekites were the most powerful of the people in the land that God was determined to give to Israel. While Moab was seeking to destroy Israel and God didn’t allow it, God was sure to let Balak know that He would destroy kings greater than Balak. Therefore, Balak didn’t have a chance! Though Amalek was the first amongst the nations, God prophesied that they would indeed be last. They would perish, and God assured the enemies of Israel that He would cause this to happen. No matter how great a nation might have been compared to other nations, those nations would not compare to the greatness of God! God was greater, more powerful, and more determined that the Moabites and the Amalekites. They would both be destroyed on account of the promises that God made to Israel, and the opposition they would undergo against God. One cannot oppose God or His people and advance without consequence. God was sure to communicate this truth.
Additionally, God spoke out against the Kenites. Again, Numbers 24:20-25 takes efforts to explain the position of the Kenites before hand. God admitted that the Kenites were well settled in their land. They were “firm” in this dwelling place, which refers to the fact that they had been established there for a long time. They proved to be a people that would be difficult to move, having deep roots in their territory. God stated that the Kenites were like those whose nests were built in the rocks, referring to the solid nature of their surroundings and defenses. Nevertheless, the Kenites would go down too. God prophesied that the people of Asshur would eventually defeat and displace them. The people of Asshur refer to the Assyrians. The Lord explained that, no matter how well-established a people group might have been, all are susceptible to defeat. No one is immune from destruction. No one is so deep rooted and built up that God cannot move them. In other words, no one is exempt from the sovereign control of God so that He cannot do with them as He pleases to fulfill His promises.
Those who oppose God will be dealt with. No matter the history of the people, the Bible proves that God’s history is greater. No matter the strength of the people, the Bible proves that God’s strength is greater. No matter how resilient the people have been, the Bible proves that God is far more resilient since the actions of people have no affect on His ability or plans whatsoever. No matter how determined a people might be, the Bible shows that God is far more determined! He will do as He promised. He will add when His plans require addition. He will subtract when His plans require subtraction. He will multiply and divide when His plans call for such. Even when God’s work requires Him to work with individuals, groups, armies, or nations, He is able and willing to do exactly what is needed to fulfill His promises.
The history of the Bible shows that no set of circumstances proves too difficult. The history of the Bible shows that no people group is able to rise above God. Therefore, God’s will is ALWAYS going to be done no matter what. Knowing this, one would be wise to submit to the will and purposes of God in order to be a beneficiary of God’s eternally unconditional promises unlike Balak, the Amalekites and the Kenites who sought to oppose God and became victims. God is sovereign and faithful to do as He says. To the enemies of God, this is a tragic reality. To the people of God, this is a glorious truth that is worth putting all hope into!
The Bible teaches in incredibly powerful ways that those who possess the Spirit of God are able to know and understand the will of God with confidence, even concerning the future. The Bible shows that those who possess the Spirit of God are able to perceive and know things about circumstances and people based on their understanding of God’s Word. The Bible testifies that those who possess the Spirit of God are able to understand God’s plan and speak with assurance about His identity and purposes as they relate to circumstances. Since the people of God should possess the Spirit of God, the people of God are specially equipped to hear, discern, know, and understand God’s Word in ways that can be miraculous!
This truth is seen in real life through the testimony of Balaam the son of Beor. The Book of Numbers showed that, while Balaam, was a man that could effectively speak blessings and curses upon people, he was a man that was ignorant of God in the beginning of his testimony. The scriptures identify Balaam as one that did not really know the God that he sought to perform his services. The Bible explains that Balaam often used sorcery to do works that he felt were for the Lord and of the Lord, which is impossible. Thus, when Balak the king of Moab sought to bribe Balaam to curse Israel, Balaam thought it was possible to do so in his ignorance. For this reason, the Book of Numbers documents the failed attempts of Balaam. While seeking to curse Israel in the pursuit of his fleshly desires for a bribe, he remained ignorant of God. Yet God exercised His sovereign authority to speak prophetic blessings out of the mouth of Balaam that, over time, had an affect on him.
The Bible states that Balaam sought to curse Israel 2 times and failed. Upon making preparations to attempt to curse Israel a third time, the scriptures show that Balaam came to a revelation. He realized that it please God to bless Israel, not curse them. Therefore, Balaam sought to please God rather than fulfill his selfish desires. Thus, Balaam’s eyes and ears were opened to the things God had been saying through his own mouth so that Balaam started to understand the will of God. Once Balaam sought to please God rather than fill himself, the scriptures proclaim that he was filled with the Spirit of God and enlightenment came upon him so that he spoke greater prophetic blessings concerning God’s plan with Israel.
Balak, the king of Moab didn’t like this. However, Balaam didn’t seem to care about Balak’s temperament. While Balak wanted Balaam to shut up and stop blessing Israel, Balaam kept speaking the prophetic Word of God! Numbers 24:14-19 documents the POWERFUL revelations that Balaam was able to utter while being filled with the Spirit of God. Numbers 24:14-19 explains that Balaam had a vision of a Man. Balaam proclaimed to Balak that he was able to see this Man, but not at that time. Balaam saw a particular Man in the future. Additionally, Balaam proclaimed that he was able to behold this Man even though He was not near. This means that the Man Balaam saw was tangibly intangible, as if existing in another realm or in a different form as Spirit.
Balaam described the Man clearly. Numbers 24:14-19 explains that Balaam saw this Man as “a Star” that would “come out of Jacob.” This is a reference to the Messiah. When God made His 3-fold promise to Abraham, He promised that “a blessing” would come from Abraham as a descendant. The Bible explains that this “blessing” was a reference to Messiah – God’s promised Anointed One sent to deal with the sins of the world in order to eternally connect God’s people to Himself, absent sin. The “blessing” refers to one that is approved by God. It is the removal of sins that makes one “approved” by God. Hence, the “blessing” would be One that is able to remove sins – a blessing indeed!
Later, Genesis 49:9-10 identified some key characteristics about this “blessing.” Jacob prophesied to his sons before his death, and upon speaking of Judah, he referenced some key Messianic prophecies. He began by stating that Judah would be the center of praise as one that destroys the enemies of God’s people. This is a Messianic reference, referring to the Messiah being praised for destroying the enemy of sin, death, and the devil. Knowing this, the Bible teaches that the Messiah would not just come from Abraham, but specifically from Judah. The Genesis 49 prophecy teaches that Judah would be powerful as a lion – the king of the jungle. No one will be able to oppose Messiah. The Genesis 49 prophecy states that the Messiah would fulfill the role of a king, holding “a scepter” of authority. However, Jacob prophesied that this king would be eternal in nature since “the scepter” (Messiah’s authority) would never depart from Him. Therefore, the Messiah would be the administrator of righteousness by the Law of God, equipping the people of God to fulfill the ordinances of God.
Balaam’s prophecy in Numbers 24:14-19 added details to prophecies Jacob first spoke of Messiah. Since Balaam was filled with God’s Spirit, he was able to know and speak of things concerning God’s will, not just for Israel, but for the whole world and God’s promises concerning forgiveness of sins, judgment of sin, and eternal life! Balaam stated that “a Star” would come out of Jacob and that “Star” would be equal to “a Scepter” that rises out of Israel. The mention of “the Scepter” connects Balaam’s prophecy to the prophecy of Jacob in Genesis 49:9-10. This means that Balaam told Balak that God’s promise to deal with sin, death and the devil would come out of Israel, specifically from the tribe of Judah as a King, possessing eternal authority equal to God’s own authority. Knowing this, there was NO WAY that Israel was going to be cursed or destroyed! God had a plan and that plan HEAVILY involved Israel!
The prophecy of Balaam in Numbers 24:14-19 also provides helpful insights to identify God’s Anointed One. The reference of the Messiah as a “Scepter” made it clear that the Messiah would be Jewish. The connection of “the Scepter” to Messiah’s identity as “A Star” gives Bible students a clear identity to focus on to know the identity of God’s Anointed One. In Revelation 22:16 the Bible provides more information regarding the identity of Messiah, using the title of “Morning Star” to identify the speaker as the Messiah that is mentioned in Numbers 24 and Genesis 49. Revelation 22:16 states, “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”
Revelation 22:16 shows that Jesus identified Himself in three important ways. First, He stated that He is both “the Root” AND “the Offspring” of David, referring to king David. This is a reference to Jesus’ eternal nature as the Son of God. He is both “before” David as “the Root” as well as “after” David as his “Offspring.” Since Jesus is eternal in nature, He is qualified to hold the eternal scepter of God’s authority that would not depart from Judah. Next, Jesus revealed Himself as the “Offspring of David.” This is important since God promised David that the Messiah would come from his lineage in 2 Samuel Chapter 7. Therefore, Jesus meets this qualification of Messiah as well. Lastly, Jesus identified Himself as “the Bright and Morning Star” making a reference to Balaam’s prophecy in Numbers 24:14-19. Hence, since Jesus is the promised Anointed One of God, He is obligated to deal with the enemies of God’s people, which is what the Book of Revelation is all about – the revelation of Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Messiah, destroying the enemies of God’s people on earth, and in the spirit realm by exercising His authority to judge sin and the devil.
The prophecy of Balaam is profound, and the only thing that allowed Balaam to be able to speak such powerful words regarding God’s prophetic plans was his possession of the Holy Spirit. Upon denying his selfish motives to receive a bribe, and seeking to please God by submitting to the blessings that God desired to proclaim towards Israel, Balaam received God’s Spirit, and by extension, the ability to know God, His plans, His promises, and His blessings. While the eternal condition of Balaam is not stated in scripture, the testimony of Numbers 24:14-19 shows that those who possess the Spirit of God are in positions of TREMENDOUS privilege, maintaining the ability to see as God sees, hear as God hears, do as God does, and be where God is. Therefore, it is to the benefit of all people to deny the affections of the flesh and humbly seek to please God through faith in Jesus as the Son of God and Messiah in order to receive His Spirit and be counted as one of God’s children that are simply BLESSED beyond human measure!
Following the Lord can be costly in a worldly sense. When one decides to follow the will of God, one is promised riches, but not necessarily in this life. When on decides to follow the will of God, one is promised glory, but not necessarily in this life. When one decides to follow the will of God, one is promised abundance, but not necessarily in this life. In fact, when one examines the testimonies of God’s people in the New Testament, more often than not, the people of God had their possessions taken from them and experienced great persecution rather than increasing comforts through abundance. In Hebrews Chapter 11, the testimony of the Bible’s heroes of faith shows that some were able to receive the benefits of God’s promises in physical manners in this life, but some were not. Jesus even warned His disciples to count the cost of following Him since true disciples of Jesus Christ are required to surrender their lives in exchange for eternal life. Hence, the Bible explains that sometimes, following the Lord can cost a person quite a bit!
This truth is revealed in the testimony of Balak and Balaam in Numbers 24:10-13. In this portion of scripture, the Bible documents the frustration of Balak. Balaam had sought to curse the children of Israel at the request of Balak the king of Moab. He had tried twice and failed twice. Each time Balaam tried to curse Israel using sorcery, God exercised His sovereign authority to overtake the voice of Balaam and cause tremendous prophetic blessings to be spoken instead of curses. Upon making his third attempt to curse Israel, Balaam had a tremendous revelation. Balaam realized that God was pleased to bless Israel and would not allow Israel to be cursed under any circumstances whatsoever. Therefore, Balaam gave in and spoke one of the greatest prophetic blessings found in the Bible. Balaam publicly confessed his newfound awareness of God’s purpose with Israel and went on to repeat God’s promises to Abraham and speak about how the Messiah would fulfill those promises.
Numbers 24:10-13 explains that Balak was not happy with Balaam’s words. Balak was seeking to bribe Balak to curse Israel and yet each time, Balaam spoke great blessings for Israel instead. Balak tried to change the scenery for Balaam and sought to increase the amount of his bribe. Nothing Balak did worked. God kept making Balaam bless Israel against Balak’s will. Therefore, Balak grew very frustrated and angry with Balaam and rescinded his offer. While Balak originally sought to pay Balaam with a bribe to curse Israel, Balaam was unable so Balak offered to increase the payment to great amounts. Balak promised Balaam that he would receive nothing for his failure to meet Balak’s expectations. Though Balaam made strong efforts to honor Balak’s desires through sacrifices and sorcery, Balak stated that he would not pay Balaam anything.
As Balak communicated this to Balaam, he made a very powerful statement to spite God. Balak said, “the Lord has kept you back from honor.” Balak blamed God. While Balak sought to bribe Balaam, Balak blamed God as the reason that Balaam would not be paid. Balak sought to give Balaam great “honor” in the form of great financial wealth, but attributed God as the reason that Balaam would get nothing. Since God exercised His sovereign control to fill Balaam’s mouth with blessings for Israel instead of curses against them, Balak’s statement was correct. God was to blame for Balaam’s loss!
It is important to recognize that, because Balaam spoke God’s word instead of the words that Balak desired, Balaam lost out on financial opportunity. Even though the financial gain that Balak sought to give was dirty money, Balaam experienced loss nonetheless. The Word of God cost Balaam money. The Word of God cost Balaam opportunity. The Word of God costs Balaam “honor.” The truth of the matter is, those who speak the Word of God are often found in such a position. The Bible teaches that even Jesus came to His own and was rejected by Him because men love darkness more than the light. Hence, when the children of God radiate the light of Christ and speak the Word of God that pierces the soul, the scriptures show that one might be more likely to make enemies rather than friends. Jesus even stated that He did not come to bring peace, but the sword. He came to divide – righteous from unrighteous. Jesus warned that relationships and families would be severed on account of the Word of God. Therefore, those that oppose the Word will oppose the messengers of God that speak it, thereby costing the people of God worldly “opportunities.”
When Balak told Balaam that he would not pay for his attempts to curse Israel, Balaam reminded Balak that he would not be able to say anything contrary to what God desired. Though Balaam’s heart was motivated in wickedness to receive the bribe, he did warn Balak that he would only be able to say the things that God permitted. Balaam never guaranteed that he would be able to speak curses against Israel. He only told Balak that he would try, and hoped that would suffice to be paid. Therefore, Balak had misguided expectations for God to act outside of His nature, and Balaam had a corrupted heart thinking he could honor God and fulfill the desires of His flesh at the same time. The Bible teaches that a person can only serve one master. One cannot serve money and God at the same time. In the instance of Numbers 24:10-13, God exercised His sovereign control to ensure that He prevailed over money. Therefore, Balaam’s allegiance to the Word of God cost him a great deal. Such is the case for the people of God. Though the Word of God is rich and eternal in nature as a life-giving force, those who submit to it will often find that worldly opportunities become elusive. As one grows closer to the Lord and speaks His Word with greater confidence and conviction, it is not uncommon to find that worldly riches, comforts, and physical increase becomes less likely. There is a literal cost for following the Lord and proclaiming His Word. One must simply trust that the return God provides is far greater than any amount that might be lost in this life!
When God opens the eyes of His people and reveals His plans and will to them, there are very specific things that God desires to make known to them. The focus of God’s work is actually very simple. The details of God’s plans are impossibly complex, but the major foundational points of God’s work are easy to define. The Bible explains that when the Lord opens the eyes of His people, He often reveals the nature of His promises and the method by which He will fulfill those promises. When God opens the eyes of His people, He often shows the work He desires to do with Israel as the work God does with Israel is representative of the work He desires to do with all His people, but also because Israel is the tool God uses to reveal His unique attributes and characteristics. Thus, the more one understands God’s promises to Israel, the more one can see the person of God working to fulfill those promises. Then, as God unveils His plans concerning Israel, it is impossible not to reveal the identity of the Messiah King of Israel since He is the method by which God will fulfill all of His promises to Israel, and is the physical manifestation of God Himself.
The Bible explains that, while Balaam really struggled to understand the words that God was putting into his mouth, he finally had his eyes and ears opened. Numbers 24:1-9 explains that Balaam came to a place of revelation. While Balak sought to entice Balaam into trying to curse Israel again, Balaam realized the reason for his past failed attempts. The Bible explains that Balaam tried to curse Israel twice before, but upon making preparations for a third attempt; the scriptures state that Balaam gained understanding. The scriptures explain that Balaam realized that it pleased God to bless Israel rather than curse Israel. Some people are slower learners than others. It took Balaam two failed attempts to come to this realization. Though God used Balaam’s own mouth to speak amazing prophetic blessings upon Israel, Balaam could not understand the words that were coming out of his own mouth. Nevertheless, as the scriptures progress to Numbers 24:1-9, the Bible explains that Balaam was finally starting to hear the voice of God!
As Balaam came to this revelation, he decided to change his approach. The Bible teaches that Balaam stopped trying to curse Israel using forms of sorcery as he had in the past. Understand that blessing Israel pleased God, Balaam sought to please God by blessing Israel instead. The Bible explains that Balaam set his face towards Israel and looked upon them camped in the wilderness from where he was. Rather than looking to evil in sorcery as he had in the past, Balaam fixed his eyes upon the people of God with different intent. This could almost be interpreted as a form of repentance.
The results of Balaam’s new understanding and focus make the idea of repentance plausible as well. Numbers 24:1-9 explains that the Spirit of God went upon Balaam after he set his eyes on Israel in a favorable manner. The Spirit of God filled Balaam and allowed him to speak yet another prophecy and blessing concerning Israel. Balaam first acknowledged his change in perspective. The scriptures explain that Balaam recognized that his eyes were closed to the things and will of God concerning Israel at first, but that they were now opened. Balaam confessed that he was unable to hear the Word of God before, even though it was coming out of his own mouth. However, Balaam also stated that he was able to hear God’s words clearly at that point in time. Balaam confessed that he was able to see the vision of God as Almighty in favor of Israel. Balaam fell down before God and possessed understanding of God’s will concerning Israel.
After making such acknowledgements, Balaam blessed Israel again through prophetic proclamations. The Spirit of God caused Balaam to profess that Israel would stretch out like valleys, meaning that they would be great in size and their camps would engulf the land. Balaam stated that Israel would flourish and prosper in the land as a well-watered garden or large trees that take in an abundance of nutrients next to a well-flowing river. Balaam stated that God would exalt Israel so that their kings would be more powerful than all other kings. The Spirit of God spoke through Balaam to remind his audience that God brought the children of Israel out of the house of bondage in Egypt exercising great power, but did so with great purpose. Balaam said that God delivered Israel so that they could demonstrate His strength by consuming all their enemies. The Book of Genesis explains that God promised that Abraham’s descendants would inherit the land by overtaking the people because God knew the people in the Promised Land were wicked and that they were in need of punishment. Thus, God would accomplish two things in the fulfillment of His promises to Abraham: first, God would give His people the land, and second, God would purge the land of sin by destroying the wicked people in it. For this reason, Israel’s enemies, which were also God’s enemies, would fall.
As Balaam made these prophetic statements, he made a few references to how God would do this work through Messiah. While Israel would be exalted above all other nations, it was only because Messiah, the Son of God, would come out of Israel. While Israel would defeat all of their enemies, it is only because Messiah would come out of Israel to destroy sin and death as the enemy of mankind. Hence, the destruction that Israel would be able to cause against their enemies would only be by the strength that God provided with the intent to reveal His qualifications as Messiah. God would destroy the enemies of Israel using the least of all nations (Israel) in order to show the extent of His power, assuring His people that He is able to deal with greater spiritual matters according to His eternally unconditional promises. Balaam mentioned that Israel would be as a lion that cannot be roused, which was a reference to Genesis 49:9 – a Messianic scripture that pointed to the Savior as the Lion from the tribe of Judah that holds “the Scepter” as “Shiloh” (He who’s right it is).
Lastly, the blessing of Balaam included a restatement and confirmation of God’s promise to Abraham. The Spirit of God spoke through Balaam to remind everyone that those who curse Israel will be cursed, and those who bless Israel will be blessed. Thus, as God opened the eyes and ears of Balaam, it was for the purpose of communicating His promises with understanding. God opened the eyes and ears of Balaam and provided insights into His plans with Israel and gave discernment as to why God would do those things through Israel. God opened the eyes and ears of Balaam, which resulted in Balaam’s knowledge and understanding of God’s promises to Israel, which then facilitated prophetic claims and proclamations of the Messiah by extension. Therefore, it could be said that God opened the eyes and ears of Balaam to His plans concerning His people in order that the identity and purpose of His Messiah could be revealed. God provided knowledge and understanding to facilitate the proclamation of truths surrounding the Gospel of Jesus Christ! This is God’s purpose today, and based on the testimony of Numbers 24:1-9 one can see that this has been God’s purpose for a long time!
When God speaks, it is important to listen. Many people are confused about the will of God, though God’s communication concerning His will is very clear. While the details about how He might accomplish certain things at certain times might not always be so clear, the fundamentals of God’s will and purposes for all people are very clearly stated in the Bible. The reason many people are confused about God’s communication is because many times people don’t listen. They hear the Word, but often times can be clouded by fleshly desires and worldliness so that the communication of God becomes distorted and confusing when in reality it is clear and focused.
Numbers 23:26-29 provides a clear illustration of this reality. The Bible explains that Balak had tried to get Balaam to curse the children of Israel two times. Each time, God exercised His sovereign control to influence the speech of Balaam and spoke blessings upon Israel instead. Balak grew more and more frustrated and tried different things to achieve his goal against God and His people. After Balaam failed to curse the children of Israel the first time, Balak sought to change locations hoping that the change of scenery would promote his goal. Balak was foolish. Balak thought that if Balaam only saw a small portion of the camp of Israel he would be more inclined to disobey the command of God and be willing to curse Israel. Scripture testifies that he failed.
Upon seeking to curse Israel for the second time, God used the mouth of Balaam to make His purpose with Israel clear. He told Balak through the mouth of Balaam that He had made a proclamation and cannot go back on His Word. God promised that Israel would be a great nation and would inherit the land, doing away with the enemies that were dwelling in the land at that time. God assured Balak and Balaam that Israel would be successful because the Messiah King went before Israel in order to cleanse the land and the people – physically and spiritually. In other words, God had invested Himself into the fulfillment of His eternally unconditional promises. Israel would advance and be blessed no matter what!
In Numbers 23:26-29 the Bible explains that Balak sought to try yet again. Balak exercised the same quality of foolishness that he demonstrated before. The Bible explains that Balak sought to change scenery again, hoping that a change in location would allow Balaam the freedom to curse Israel. The scriptures testify that Balak specifically stated: “Perhaps it will please God that you may curse them for me from there.” The foolishness of Balak is hard to comprehend. God was so stern and clear about His eternally unconditional plans for Israel. God stated that He was examining Israel from an eternal perspective, even seeing them through the lens of His completed work, as if without iniquity. Yet for some reason, Balak figured that changing locations would inspire God to let Balaam curse Israel. Why would God allows Balaam to curse His chosen people just because of the place he was making such a request? Why would the location of the curse have any bearing on God’s decision? Why would Balak persistently continue to seek to participate in futility when God was so clear about His intentions?
As the testimony of Numbers 23:26-29 continues, it only gets worse. The scripture testify that as Balak gave the invitation to venture to another location to see if God would permit the curse, Balaam followed Balak. One must wonder why Balaam continued to follow Balak. The Bible explains that Balaam even told Balak that he would be unable to do that which God did not permit. God had clearly communicated to Balak and Balaam that He would not permit Israel to be cursed. Nevertheless, Balaam continued to pursue an opportunity to appease Balak. It simply doesn’t make sense. Numbers 23:26-29 ends by stating that Balaam instructed Balak’s servants to build seven more altars and prepare seven more rams for more sacrifices. Balaam actually made preparations to attempt to curse Israel again. He had failed twice already. God had exercised His sovereign control as Creator to influence his mouth to communicate blessings even though Balaam’s heart desired to curse Israel, yet he continued to try and defy God.
God was being as clear as clear could have been. Yet two men continued to pursue their wicked desires that were contrary to God’s will in direct opposition of God. The lust of their flesh had caused their ears to go numb. The wickedness of their hearts had caused the plain and simple speech of the Living God to become inaudible. The evil in the hearts of these two men made their ears dysfunctional. Such is why Jesus often said, “He who has an ear, let him hear.” Though a person might have ears, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the person’s ears are inclined to hear the plain Words of God. They might hear the sound, but allow the darkness of their hearts to keep them from listening to God’s intents. Thus, like Balak and Balaam, many people continue to pursue goals that oppose God and strive in futility.
God’s plans for His people are clear. God’s purposes and promises are equally as clear. Everything God desires His people to know concerning Him and His will for His people can be found in the Bible. However, in order to actually hear God’s voice in the scriptures, one must deny the desires of one’s flesh and seek to do as the Word says in sanctification, apart from darkness and evil. When one is willing to die to one’s fleshly and wicked desires, the Word of God is clear and comprehensive. However, as the testimony of Numbers 23:26-29 shows, when one is consumed with one’s selfish goals and agenda that oppose God, it is impossible to hear God with understanding, leaving one to respond foolishly in senselessness.