Balaam’s Fourth Oracle
I won’t lie to you. I almost broke my brain on each of these Balaam sermons. They have been complicated, difficult to determine what is being pictured, and scholarly comment on the verses, along with the many translations of them, are so divergent that it seemed almost hopeless to try to resolve what the text is actually saying.
It has been an extremely complicated six weeks. One of the most frustrating parts of each day was holding my tongue from some type of profanity directed at the scholars at Cambridge as they continuously argued about the unreliability of the text, about the additions that came from later scribes, and so on as they tried their best to destroy the word of God rather than to take the time to figure out what it is saying and how reliable it actually is.
For example, a part of their analysis of verse 19 says it is –
“An obscure verse, which is perhaps a later addition to the song. It appears to look forward to a Messianic prospect of universal dominion. Some think that Numbers 24:18-19 are both entirely corrupt beyond restoration.”
First, there is no evidence at all that verse 19 was added later. And then secondly, their next comment completely destroyed their own supposition. How can it be that a later addition to the song is entirely corrupt and beyond restoration? The point of adding something later would be to add clarity and correction.
It is maddening to see how people who went to school for an education in biblical theology, and who are trained in the biblical languages, then spend the rest of their lives trying to destroy the very basis for their education. It is like a person who goes to school to become an engineer, and who then spends the rest of his life working on designs that can never cross a span of any length or bear a weight of any amount. Who would do that?
Text Verse: “O My people, remember now
What Balak king of Moab counseled,
And what Balaam the son of Beor answered him,
From Acacia Grove to Gilgal,
That you may know the righteousness of the Lord.” Micah 6:5
The Bible is not only perfectly reliable, but it is astonishingly intricate and detailed, validating itself time and time again. The Lord, through Micah, appealed to Israel to remember what Balak counseled. That was for Balaam to curse Israel.
And then He asks them to consider what Balaam answered to Balak. That was the four oracles of these sermons. The Lord purposed that Balaam would bless them, and he did. But the Lord also gave him a prophetic look into the future concerning the coming Messiah, and also the times which still lie ahead which are coming because of their rejection of Him.
This is what the Lord is trying to wake Israel up to in the book of Micah, and it is what the Lord has been trying to wake them up to throughout the Bible and throughout their continued history in relation to the Bible. He calls out, “Wake up!”
History is set and will not change. How do we know? It is because the book is written. The prophecies have been given, and they point to what has been determined. Let us pay heed to the word, this marvelous word of God, which tells us of the coming Messiah.
It’s all to be found in His superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.
I. I Am Going to My People (verses 12-14)
12 So Balaam said to Balak, “Did I not also speak to your messengers whom you sent to me, saying,
We left off the passage last week with the indignation of Balak on prominent display. Balaam had blessed Israel for a third time, and in response to that, we then read –
“Then Balak’s anger was aroused against Balaam, and he struck his hands together; and Balak said to Balaam, ‘I called you to curse my enemies, and look, you have bountifully blessed them these three times! 11 Now therefore, flee to your place. I said I would greatly honor you, but in fact, the Lord has kept you back from honor.’” Numbers 24:10, 11
Balaam’s response now is that he did not follow any intentional path of trickery, but had already told Balak’s messengers that things might not come out as Balak desired. This, however, is not the full story.
As we saw, Balaam did not convey the full word of the Lord to the messengers on the first visit, and he failed to immediately dismiss them on the second visit, which would have been acting in obedience to the original word of the Lord. Despite that, and to remind Balak of what he had already told him in Chapter 22, he continues on with…
13 ‘If Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the word of the Lord, to do good or bad of my own will. What the Lord says, that I must speak’?
This is a combination of verses 22:18 and 22:38. They said –
“Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more.” (22:18)
“Look, I have come to you! Now, have I any power at all to say anything? The word that God puts in my mouth, that I must speak.” (22:38)
There are a few changes in what he relayed between these two times. When speaking to the messengers, he said “the word of the Lord my God.” Here, he only says, “the word of the Lord.”
This inconsistency reveals a dishonest streak. Before, when a possible reward awaited him, he said, “the Lord my God.” Now, to justify himself by distancing himself from the Lord, he simply says “the Lord,” as if Yehovah were one of many gods.
Also, there he said “less or more.” However, here he says “good or bad.” The fact is that he did speak less to the messengers than the Lord spoke to him. Now, he is claiming a type of righteousness by saying laasot tovah o raah milibi, or “to do good or bad of my own heart.”
But as testified to by the Lord when He met Balaam on the donkey, this is exactly what was on his mind. As it said, “I have come out to stand against you, because your way is perverse before Me.” He did intend to pursue good or bad according to his own heart.
Another difference is that in chapter 22 he said, “The word that God puts in my mouth, that I must speak.” Here he says, “What the Lord says, that I must speak.”
First, he has gone from the idea of God instilling a word in him to a word which the Lord speaks to him. Secondly, the word elohim, or “God,” may or may not be speaking of the Lord. Without the article, it can mean any “god.” He has gone from the general to the specific in name.
What seems as if he is justified in his words is not as sure when the two passages are placed side by side. For a person who supposedly was to speak the exacting words of the Lord, he is not nearly as careful – either intentionally or incompetently – with his own words. Despite this, he does have more words to speak, and they are precise because Scripture records them as another oracle…
14 And now, indeed, I am going to my people.
Balaam realizes that he is no longer wanted, and that no reward is forthcoming. Whereas he came to a royal welcome, he is now to return with no formal sendoff at all. He will return to the land he came from with a stain on his record in the eyes of those who had eagerly sought his abilities in the past. But, before he goes, he is to speak one last time…
14 (con’t) Come, I will advise you what this people will do to your people in the latter days.”
The word he uses, translated as “advise,” is yaats. It is meant to give counsel. In other words, “I will tell you what is coming upon your people so that you will be able to consider it now.” The words are set as an obvious warning to Balak. It can be inferred that “What this people will do to your people” means something negative. Further, it will come about, as it says, “in the latter days.”
This is now the second of sixteen times that the term b’akharit ha’yammin, or “in the end of the days” is seen. There is debate over what it means exactly, but it often certainly covers the total time of Israel’s existence, from whatever point it is spoken all the way through until the millennial kingdom of Christ.
These are prophetic utterances which will come about according to the timeline the Lord has set, but they are spoken and recorded in Scripture, and so they are guaranteed to occur at some point during the history of Israel.
Some of the words he will speak will be of the coming Messiah. They are exact and precise and they have always been considered as referring to Messiah. That along with other words of how Israel will interact with the surrounding nations is now to be relayed to Balak, and also to us through the recorded word…
Before I leave, I will share the word
It was given to me and now I pass it on to you
It is that which came from the Lord
It is sure, it is fixed, and it is faithful and true
I will tell you of things which are yet come to pass
They are things that will surely come about
To know such things is worth more than you could amass
Because they will leave you with certainty; not wonder or doubt
It is the word of the Lord who has come among men
And what has been assures us of what He promises to do
And so carefully pay heed, time and again
And this word will be a guide and a lamp for you
II. A Star and a Scepter (verses 15-19)
15 So he took up his oracle and said:
The oracle he now speaks is unlike those already given in that it will be solely future prophecy. It is not so much a blessing upon Israel as it is an explanation of their future in regards to the coming Messiah, and of their relation to the nations of the world.
It is divided into four sections, each with the same words as we see now, “So he took up his oracle and said.” Thus, though this is counted as one oracle overall, making four total from Balaam, it is actually four separate oracles, making seven total from Balaam. The first will speak of Messiah and how He will deal with the two relatives of Israel through Lot, Moab and Edom.
The second will deal with the arch-enemy of Israel, Amalek. The third will deal with the Kenites, who were allies of Israel, and who dwelt closely with them. The final oracle will deal with distant nations and the judgment upon them. Each of these is a mashal, or parable, which will follow exceptional literary techniques, just as the previous oracles did.
15 (con’t) “The utterance of Balaam the son of Beor,
neum bil’am beno beor – “Utterance Balaam son of Beor.” As in verse 24:3, he identifies himself by name and by heritage, Balaam the son of Beor. As there, these are words spoken by him, even if the Lord directed him. It is a way of saying that his eyes were closed, just as the eyes of his father had been closed, but that is now changed.
Again also, he uses the word neum, or utterance. It is a word almost exclusively used concerning what is said by the Lord. Here, it is the Lord’s prophetic word being spoken through him. He is speaking it as if it is from his own viewpoint, but it is the word of the Lord being revealed through him.
15 (con’t) And the utterance of the man whose eyes are opened;
u-neum ha’geber shethum ha’ayin – “And utterance the man are opened the eyes.” Balaam again uses the word neum, or utterance. It is from one whose eyes are opened. The intent is that his eyes were shut, but that they are now spiritually opened through the effect of the Spirit upon him.
It is the second and last time in the Bible that the word shatham is used. It means “to unveil.” His eyes were closed, but now they are unveiled. God has opened his spiritual insight to reveal, through him, words concerning His people, Israel, including their Messiah.
16 The utterance of him who hears the words of God,
neum shomea imre el – “Utterance of him who hears words of God.” It is the same as verse 24:4. He implies that his utterance is in accord with the words of God. He is speaking out what he hears and what will be said is that which is directed by God. Further…
16 (con’t) And has the knowledge of the Most High,
v’yodea daat elyon – “And knows knowledge of Most High.” These words are now added to what he said in his third oracle. It does not say “the knowledge” though. It simply says, “knowledge.” He possesses knowledge of or from the Most High, but he does not possess the Most High’s knowledge. The translation leaves an incorrect sense of what is said.
16 (con’t) Who sees the vision of the Almighty,
makhazeh shaddai yekhezeh – “Vision of Shaddai sees.” The words are similar to those in verse 24:4. It is a vision which comes from God which has opened his spiritual eyes so that he can perceive that which would otherwise be hidden.
Again as before, he then says, Shaddai, or Almighty. This is not a mere god, but the all-powerful God. The words come from the Source of all power, and therefore what will be said are words which reflect that power. Nothing can thwart them…
16 (con’t) Who falls down, with eyes wide open:
nophel u-eglui enayim – “Who falls down and opens wide his eyes.” It is the same words as in 24:4. He has been overwhelmed by the force of what has occurred.
It should be noted again that this is unlike the other true prophets, such as Daniel, Ezekiel, and John. He is overthrown by an opposing and greater force, casting him down and impelling him to speak contrary to what he would otherwise proclaim.
As before, he is still standing in the place where all Israel was laid out before him in the shape of a cross. With that in perfect view, he next speaks of the One who would prevail over that cross…
erenu v’lo attah – “I see Him, and not now.” This cannot be speaking of Israel the people. They are there before him. Further, it is third person, masculine, singular. Therefore, this is clearly a reference to the Messiah who would come from Israel.
It is true that David, and kings in his line, could be considered, but ultimately it is speaking of One who would come as the final Victor over the enemies of God’s people. Balaam could see Him, but He was also far in the distant future…
17 (con’t) I behold Him, but not near;
ashurenu v’lo qarov – “I behold Him, but not near.” The clause is parallel to the previous one. The word shur is used, as it was in verse 23:9. It gives the sense of perceiving as if through a close inspection. His spiritual eye could see One that was there in front of him, and yet He was also in the distance, certainly meaning in time. At some future point He would be revealed…
17 (con’t) A Star shall come out of Jacob;
darak kokav miyaaqov – “Has marched forth a Star from Jacob.” It is a new word, darak, which signifies to tread. It is in the perfect tense. Thus, the prophecy – though of a future event – is spoken of as if it has occurred.
It is as if the Star has marched out of Jacob and into the stream of humanity. Jacob is the natural man. This Star shall come forth from Jacob in a natural sense. He will be a human being. Of this, Hengstenberg notes –
“A star is so natural an image and symbol of imperial greatness and splendour, that it has been employed in this sense in almost every nation. And the fact that this figure and symbol are so natural, may serve to explain the belief of the ancient world, that the birth and accession of great kings was announced by the appearance of stars.” Hengstenberg
Thus, we have in this a foreshadowing of the coming of the star of Bethlehem which anticipates the Star, or Ruler, out of Jacob, Jesus.
17 (con’t) A Scepter shall rise out of Israel,
v’qam shevet miyisrael – “And has risen a Scepter from Israel.” It is parallel to the previous clause. The scepter indicates rule and authority. The words are again in the perfect tense. It is spoken of as having occurred, and thus it is certain to come about. This Scepter has already been prophesied by Jacob, who is Israel, in Genesis 49 –
“The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor a lawgiver from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes;
And to Him shall be the obedience of the people.” Genesis 49:10
This Scepter, anticipated in the prophecy of Jacob, has arisen from this spiritual people, meaning Israel, who are Yehovah’s people. He is a particular Ruler who has caught the full attention of the prophetic eye of Balaam.
17 (con’t) And batter the brow of Moab,
u-makhats paate moav – “And shatter the sides Moab.” The word paate is widely translated. It signifies a side or a corner, but what that is referring to must be taken from what it says in Jeremiah –
“Those who fled stood under the shadow of Heshbon
Because of exhaustion.
But a fire shall come out of Heshbon,
A flame from the midst of Sihon,
And shall devour the brow of Moab,
The crown of the head of the sons of tumult.” Jeremiah 48:45
There it speaks of the brow, or forehead, of Moab. Thus, this verse in Numbers is speaking of the sides of the forehead, meaning the temples. It then looks to the destruction of Moab from the left and the right, crushing his forehead. But there is more…
17 (con’t) And destroy all the sons of tumult.
v’qarqar kal bene sheth – “and destroy all sons of tumult.” This clause is parallel to the previous one. The words are debated over, and translations vary widely. However, Jeremiah 48:45 again may provide the correct interpretation. There it says v’qodqod instead of v’qarqar. The two letters in Hebrew are very similar in appearance. If this is correct, then it would say, “And the skull of the sons of tumult.” The Moabites here are being equated to a fierce, tumultuous group of people.
Again, if correct, then the idea is that the Scepter would come and batter Moab on both temples and crush the crown of his head. No matter what translation, the symbolism is obvious from the destructive nature of the surrounding words. Bad times lay ahead for Moab, or “From Father.”
Moab, or “From Father,” can have one of two pictorial meanings. Is it speaking of “From Father,” meaning God, or “From father,” meaning the devil. Jesus spoke of those whose father is the devil. This is what is being referred to here.
There is a literal fulfillment of subduing the nation of Moab. But there are also those who are enemies of Messiah, and who have failed to come to God through faith in Christ and who remain under the devil’s authority, and thus they are sons of tumult.
18 “And Edom shall be a possession;
v’hayah edom yereshah – “and shall be Edom a possession.” Here is a word found twice in this verse, and nowhere else in the Bible, yereshah, or possession. It signifies that Edom would become the property of this Ruler to come.
Edom had been subdued and ruled by Israel, but this looks forward both to a literal possession of the land by Messiah, and also to what Edom pictures, Adam, the fallen man. Edom or Adam, shall be possessed by the Messiah. Such is literally true in the sense of what the Bible teaches, as prophesied in graphic detail in Isaiah 63:1-4 –
Who is this who comes from Edom,
With dyed garments from Bozrah,
This One who is glorious in His apparel,
Traveling in the greatness of His strength?—
“I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.”
2 Why is Your apparel red,
And Your garments like one who treads in the winepress?
3 “I have trodden the winepress alone,
And from the peoples no one was with Me.
For I have trodden them in My anger,
And trampled them in My fury;
Their blood is sprinkled upon My garments,
And I have stained all My robes.
4 For the day of vengeance is in My heart,
And the year of My redeemed has come.” Isaiah 63:1-4
The judgment upon Edom is also detailed minutely in the book of Obadiah.
18 (con’t) Seir also, his enemies, shall be a possession,
v’hayah yereshah seir oyevaiv – “And shall be a possession Seir his enemies.” The words are parallel to the previous clause. Seir is mountain range in Edom, known as Mount Seir, or the hairy mountain, because of its appearance. The word Seir comes from sear, or hair. This too shall be the literal possession of the Messiah.
However, as has been seen in the past, hair in the Bible signifies awareness. Those who have an awareness are being referred to. It speaks of the cognitive, thinking being who is man. Just as Edom – or Adam, meaning man – shall be his possession, so also man, the sentient being of God’s creation, shall be.
18 (con’t) While Israel does valiantly.
v’yisrael oseh khayil – “And Israel does valiantly.” This clause stands alone, without a parallel thought. It signifies that Israel, certainly the Israel of God, meaning those Jews who belong to Messiah, will be remarkable in their state under Messiah.
19 Out of Jacob One shall have dominion,
v’yered miyaaqov – “And shall rule One out of Jacob.” This speaks of Messiah, and it is more fully explained in Psalm 78:2 –
“He shall have dominion also from sea to sea,
And from the River to the ends of the earth.” Psalm 78:2
The One coming from Jacob is prophesied to have dominion, meaning rule. Thus, it is implying total dominion.
19 (con’t) And destroy the remains of the city.”
v’heevid sarid me-ir – “And destroy survivor from the city.” The words are in the singular, but they are probably signifying the plural. In other words, the clause is parallel to the previous one. Just as the One from Jacob is ruler, so the one from the city will be destroyed. As Albert Barnes notes –
“The phrase tersely describes a conqueror who first defeats his enemies in battle, and then hunts out the fugitives until he has cut off all of every place.”
The idea here is that the ruler is the absolute ruler, and the foe is absolutely destroyed. This fits perfectly with the concept of the rule of Messiah, Jesus, as revealed in Scripture.
Out of Israel shall come to Me
One who will lead and protect them as they go
He shall destroy the enemies valiantly
And into confusion, His enemies He shall throw
Moab and Edom shall face His hand
And over them His dominion shall extend
His victories are assured, and they shall be grand
He shall sustain Israel through it; to the end
Who can rouse himself against the Lord
And who can stand against the Holy One of Israel
He stands victorious with His bloodied sword
As the word of God reveals all too well
III. From the First to the Last (verses 20-25)
20 Then he looked on Amalek, and he took up his oracle and said:
This now begins the second part of Balaam’s forth oracle. It is a judgment pronounced upon Amalek. To look upon Amalek does not mean physically. Rather, he is looking on them in the vision instilled in his mind.
As seen in previous sermons, the name Amalek is derived from the word am, or people, and malaq which means to nip or wring off the head of a bird with or without severing it from the body.
Thus, they are the “The People Who Wring Off.” They are those who are disconnected from the body and strive to disconnect the body. Balaam next describes them…
20 (con’t) “Amalek was first among the nations,
reshit goyim amaleq – “First the nations Amalek.” This is not speaking of either first in power, or first in time, such as “the oldest among the nations.” Rather, this is speaking of being the first of the enemies of Israel. No sooner had Israel left Egypt than they faced their first foe in battle, Amalek. That is recorded in Exodus 17, and the passage ended with this thought –
“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.’ 15 And Moses built an altar and called its name, The-Lord-Is-My-Banner; 16 for he said, ‘Because the Lord has sworn: the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.’” Exodus 17:14-16
As I said, they are disconnected from the body and they war to disconnect others from the body. It was and remains a picture of those who pursue the law rather than grace in order to be restored to God, such as the Judaizers of Paul’s time, and the Hebrew Roots adherents of our time. Amalek of the flesh was destroyed by Israel, but the spirit of Amalek continues, and the war is ongoing…
20 (con’t) But shall be last until he perishes.”
v’akharito ade obed – “And his latter end – forever he perishes.” Until the end of the age, there will be those who remain disconnected from the body, and they will work to disconnect others. The war against them remains, and it will continue until they are finally and completely destroyed. The word “perishes” here is obed. It will only be seen here and in verse 24 in the Bible.
21 Then he looked on the Kenites, and he took up his oracle and said:
This now begins the third part of Balaam’s forth oracle. It is a prophecy pronounced upon the Kenites. The name is the same as that of Cain, the son of Adam. That comes from qanah, meaning to acquire. The words of this oracle are extremely hard to pin down, including exactly who is being referred to.
In Genesis 15, God promised the land to Abraham, a land which included Kenites. However, in Israel’s history, a group known as the Kenites were close to them, and were exempted from the destruction upon Israel’s foes in battle. It appears that this is that group, and the words need to be carefully translated to reflect this.
Instead of being Israel’s enemies as Amalek was, they are Israel’s friends, but apart from the people Israel. Thus, this oracle is set in contrast to that which was pronounced upon Amalek.
21 (con’t) Firm is your dwelling place,
ethan movoshavekha – “Enduring is your dwelling.” With the Kenites dwelling among Israel, and not at war with them, they were secure, and their dwelling was secure.
21 (con’t) And your nest is set in the rock;
v’sim basela qinekha – “and was laid in a rock your nest.” This is parallel to the previous clause. Just as their dwelling was firm, so is a nest set on a rock. It has a foundation and stability. There is a play on words here where the Hebrew for Kenite and for nest are grammatically similar.
22 Nevertheless Kain shall be burned.
Ki im yihyeh l’baer qayin – “Is it that shall be burned Kain?” It is a question anticipating a negative answer, until a certain point. In other words, it is saying that Kain shall be safe until that time which is set, which is…
22 (con’t) How long until Asshur carries you away captive?”
ad mah ashur tisbekha – “Until when Asshur carries you away captive.” What is being said is that this group of people, who were allied with Israel, but not of Israel, would remain until they were carried away captive by Asshur or Assyria.
Thus, the Kenites, because of their favorable alliance with Israel, would be safe until the time that Israel was taken captive by the Assyrians. The sad end of the Kenites is found in the fact that though they were Israel’s friends, they never joined themselves with Israel and the God of Israel. Thus, when Israel’s judgment came, so came the destruction of the Kenites.
The lesson here is that those who join to the people of God in friendship only, but who do not join the people of God in faith, will inevitably be brought to ruin, despite their favorable alliance.
23 Then he took up his oracle and said:
This is now the fourth and final part of Balaam’s fourth oracle.
23 (con’t) “Alas! Who shall live when God does this?
oy mi yihyeh misumo el – It is a very difficult set of words that is not agreed on by almost any scholar. However, Cambridge – the most liberal bunch of yahoos around – still have valuable insights. They state, “The only rendering which the words will bear is ‘on account of God appointing him.’”
Therefore, the words, oy mi yihyeh misumo el are literally translated as, “Alas! Who shall live when establishes Him God?” In other words, “Alas, who shall live from the time He is established by God?” Balaam cries out “Woe!” because it applies to his own people in the future, as well as Israel.
This, however, calls for an answer as to, “Who is ‘him?’” Is it someone in the previous oracle, meaning Asshur or Assyria? Is it someone in this oracle? No, rather, this is the final sub-oracle of Balaam’s fourth main oracle. That is based on the words of the first prophetic portion of the first sub-oracle. It is speaking of the Messiah, the Star out of Jacob and the Scepter out of Israel.
And so the question is, “Alas! Who shall live from the time He is established by God?” It is reminiscent of the question proposed by the Lord in the book of Malachi towards Israel –
“But who can endure the day of His coming?
And who can stand when He appears?” Malachi 3:2
It is not only disobedient Israel who must face His coming, but the world must face His being established by God.
24 But ships shall come from the coasts of Cyprus,
v’tsim miyad kittim – “And ships from the hand of Cyprus.” The clause has no verb. As this is so, it forms the subject for what is in the next clause. The tsiy, or ship is introduced here. It comes from tsavah, a command, because a ship is a fixture, like the fixing of a command. It will be seen just four times in the Bible.
The word Kittim is generally translated as Cyprus, but it appears from Daniel 11:30 that this is speaking of the Romans and the islands which were under their authority. This is in agreement with the Latin Vulgate. It is these ships that are next spoken of…
24 (con’t) And they shall afflict Asshur and afflict Eber,
v’inu ashur v’inu eber – “And they shall afflict Asshur and afflict Eber.” Asshur is Assyria. But, it is a bit harder to determine who Eber is speaking of. Genesis 10 shows that Eber is from the line of Shem. In Genesis 10:21, it says that Shem is the father of all of the children of Eber.
It is the line from which Israel descends, and it is where the designation “Hebrew” comes from. Eber means, “the region beyond.” And so what we see here is a battle which is coming from the area of Rome, and which will afflict the Middle East, including the land of Israel, who are included in the children of Eber.
This matches Daniel’s prophecy of Daniel 9:27 which reveals that the anti-Christ will come from Rome.
24 (con’t) And so shall Amalek, until he perishes.”
v’gam hu ade obed – “And also he forever destruction.” The NKJV adds in the name Amalek here. This is because of the use of the word obed which was used when speaking of Amalek in verse 20. That word was first used there, and this is its last use in Scripture. They have assumed that he is the subject of both, even though his judgment has already been pronounced.
This is speaking not specifically of Amalek, but of the anti-Christ who is representative of the spirit of Amalek and who will be found in Rome, the seat of the anti-Christ in the end times.
Thus, this final oracle of Balaam today is a prophecy like bookends on the afflictions of Israel. The first was Amalek, and the final one will be Antichrist who is spiritually of Amalek. It is Rome, or Mystery Babylon, who sits on the seven hills.
The Lord, through Israel, began and continued on the battle against Amalek, Israel’s first enemy. It is the Lord who will bring the final destruction on Rome, Israel’s last great enemy.
What we have in Balaam’s fourth oracle, which is comprised of four sub-oracles, is a picture of human history. The first part gave a view of Messiah who was, and who is, and who is to come. He has always existed, and He has come, and He shall come again. It is He who is designated to subdue the rebellious fallen of humanity, pictured by Moab and Edom.
One is either from father, meaning the devil, or from Father, meaning reborn of God. Those who remain in the devil will be destroyed, those who come to Christ will be subdued through peace. Edom represents Adam. Adam, representing humanity, is fallen and of the devil, but he will again be God’s possession through the last Adam, Christ.
This will come about through Israel, meaning Christ and the people of Messiah who, as it says, “does valiantly,” meaning they bring Adam’s fallen seed to God. God’s highest creation, man the sentient being, represented by Seir, will again be God’s possession.
The second part spoke of Amalek, who can be equated here with the devil. He was the one who disconnected the head from the body, meaning man from the Lord. He was first among the nations but in the latter end, he shall perish forever. His doom is seen in Revelation 20.
The third part referred to the Kenites. They are a real people who lived among Israel, but in type, they are those of Cain, the son of Adam. He was among the people of God, but never became a part of them. His line was taken away in the flood, and the same will happen to those who are like him in the future. One cannot merely be a friend of God’s people, but he must join them through Christ, or he will be taken away.
The fourth and final part is future to us and is as was explained already. It is referring to Antichrist and his final destruction.
Balak had called Balaam to curse Israel, but instead, he has blessed Israel, and he has pronounced a prophetic oracle which outlines what will occur to and around Israel until the end of the age. With that now complete, it says…
25 So Balaam rose and departed and returned to his place;
Here it says that Balaam rose, departed, and turned towards his place, meaning his homeland. But it does not mean that he returned there. He simply headed back in that direction. Numbers 31, however, shows that he wound up with the Midianites and he will die among them, because he led Israel into sin through the Midianites.
It could be questioned how Israel knows of the prophecies of Balaam, and it is supposed that he may have actually went to Israel to explain to them what had happened in hopes of getting his reward from them. That is not recorded anywhere, but it is possible. Or, the Lord simply revealed to Moses what occurred without the need for involving Balaam any further.
Either way, the word is recorded, and it tells us of God’s faithfulness to Israel throughout the ages, but it also shows that difficult times lie ahead for Israel before they call on Christ and are rescued from the hand of the Antichrist. It is a sound record of their history which agrees with the rest of Scripture in this regard.
*25 (fin) Balak also went his way.
It must be that these two meet up again. Despite having turned to his home, Revelation 2 says –
“But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.” Revelation 2:14
Therefore, despite Balak not being mentioned in the coming destruction of Midian, the Lord, through the Apostle John, shows that Balak was considered a part of what is coming in the Chapters ahead. As the leader of the five kings of Midian, the Lord shows that he ultimately was the one who was deceived by Balaam, even if he was not killed by Israel in the battle.
For now, it simply finishes with the thought that he went his way. The story of Balaam is one which has been difficult in many ways to grasp, and yet there are obvious points which have come out from it. One is that God is completely faithful to His covenant with Israel, and therefore, we can be assured that He will be completely faithful to His New Covenant and all that it details concerning our eternal future.
Secondly, we can see that though on the surface, Balaam might have seemed like a reasonable person, with a detailed study, we find that he was one who was sold out to money. He did the right thing despite his ways, not because of them. And that should lead us to always consider that this is possible with those we interact with, especially those who appear to be religiously sound.
Far too many people have been led astray by those who have claimed that had special insights into the things of God, or who claim that they have a special ability or personal connection to God concerning prophetic matters. We need to be extremely careful to not simply believe people like this.
It is the word of God, and that alone, from which we receive our instruction in such things. If we were to count the number of supposed prophets, healers, miracle workers, and etc., throughout the church age, the list would go on and on. They are there in abundance today, and they add nothing to the Word of God.
Let us be reasonable in our doctrine, and let us pursue sound theology by pursuing God through His word alone. In that, we will stand approved, and not be remembered as Balaam and Balak, but as great people of God who are found pleasing in His eyes. This is our charge, and this is our responsibility. And so let us assume it, and let us pursue it all the days of our lives. To the glory of God.
Closing Verse: “Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, ‘Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall not be found anymore.’” Revelation 18:21
Next Week: Numbers 25:1-18 This guy was full of high octane gas… (The Zeal of Phinehas) (49th Numbers Sermon)
The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. It may seem at times as if you are lost in a desert, wandering aimlessly. But the Lord is there, carefully leading you to the Land of Promise. So follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.
Balaam’s Fourth Oracle
So Balaam said to Balak
“Did I not also speak to your messengers
———-Whom you sent to me, saying, and I am saying still
‘If Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold
I could not go beyond the word of the Lord
———-to do good or bad of my own will
What the Lord says, that I must speak
And now, indeed, I am going to my people, my path I will blaze
Come, I will advise you
What this people will do to your people in the latter days
So he took up his oracle and said:
Words that should make Balak dread…
“The utterance of Balaam the son of Beor,
And the utterance of the man whose eyes are opened;
The utterance of him who hears the words of God,
And has the knowledge of the Most High,
Who sees the vision of the Almighty,
Who falls down, with eyes wide open:
“I see Him, but not now;
I behold Him, but not near;
A Star shall come out of Jacob;
A Scepter shall rise out of Israel,
And batter the brow of Moab,
And destroy all the sons of tumult.
“And Edom shall be a possession;
Seir also, his enemies, shall be a possession,
While Israel does valiantly.
Out of Jacob One shall have dominion,
And destroy the remains of the city.”
Then he looked on Amalek, and he took up his oracle and said:
Things that for Amalek lay ahead
“Amalek was first among the nations,
But shall be last until he perishes.”
Then he looked on the Kenites, and he took up his oracle and said:
Words for them of what lay ahead
“Firm is your dwelling place,
And your nest is set in the rock;
Nevertheless Kain shall be burned.
How long until Asshur carries you away captive?”
Then he took up his oracle and said:
What things would be like in the days ahead
“Alas! Who shall live when God does this?
But ships shall come from the coasts of Cyprus,
And they shall afflict Asshur and afflict Eber,
And so shall Amalek, until he perishes.”
So Balaam rose and departed and returned to his place
Balak also went his way, with mud all over his face
Lord God, we are even now in a wilderness
And we are wanting to be led by You
Without You to direct, our lives would be a mess
And so be our guide, O God; You who are faithful and true
We long for the water in this barren land
May it flow forth from the Rock, our souls to satisfy
Give us this refreshing, spiritual hand
And may we take it, and to our lives daily it apply
And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to you for all of our days
Hallelujah and Amen…