-Now the sons of Israel journeyed to a point near entry into the Promised Land just east of the Jordan River. A new generation had risen up and they stood poised and ready to receive the inheritance of a faithful God to enter. Neighboring nations were feeling the dread of the LORD on them as this was going on. As Israel camped in the plains of Moab opposite Jericho, Balak, the king of Moab saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites and began an attempt to garner favor from on high, but it would prove futile. He sent messengers to Balaam, the son of Beor, at Pethor, which is near the Euphrates River. Balaam was an ancient sorcerer called to place curses on others. God used this individual for His glory in speaking to him prophetically even though Balaam’s heart was definitely mixed between trying to please man and God (2 Peter 2:15, Jude 1:11, Revelation 2:14). The message was concerning the sons of Israel who had come from Egypt and were living opposite Moab. Balak wanted Balaam to come and curse this people so that Moab could gain victory over the children of Yahweh. After a night’s meditation, Balaam gave the initial messengers, who were elders of Moab, the word of God saying, “Do not go with them, you shall not curse the people, for they are blessed (Numbers 22:1-12).” So the LORD refused to let Balaam go back to the land of Moab with Balak’s men.
-Balak did not give up so easily in his quest to bring a curse on Israel. He resent leaders of his nation, more numerous and more distinguished than the former. They begged that nothing hinder the sorcerer, Balaam, from coming to them offering him riches and honor. Balaam stood his ground again and refused their bribes, but he did consent to allow the LORD another opportunity that night to speak further to him concerning the matter. God consented to let him go this time with the condition of speaking only what He spoke to him directly. So Balaam rode away on his trusted and faithful donkey with the leaders of Moab. On the journey however, God became angry with Balaam and took His stand as an adversary against him. An angel of the LORD appeared with a drawn sword in his hand. The donkey turned off from its path and went into a field, but Balaam struck the donkey and turned it back into the pathway. Further along, the angel of the LORD stood in a narrow path of the vineyards with walls on both sides. When the donkey perceived the angel of the LORD, it pressed herself up to the wall pressing Balaam’s foot against the wall, probably causing at least some discomfort. The sorcerer again struck the animal. The angel reappeared further down the road in a narrow place where there was no way to turn either right or left. This time, when the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, it lay down under Balaam making the sorcerer angry, and he struck the donkey with his stick. At that point, the LORD miraculously opened the mouth of the donkey. She said to him, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?” Balaam replied that she had made a mockery of him by being disobedient to his commands for the journey. Balaam even told his animal he would have killed her had he had a sword in his hand. The donkey made a case for her faithfulness in past journeys, and Balaam did acknowledge the strangeness of this occurrence. Then the LORD opened his eyes, and he saw the angel. Balaam bowed down reverently to the spiritual being. The angel questioned his beating of the donkey since she saved his life. The angel had come out as an adversary, because Balaam’s way had been contrary to the angel. Balaam acknowledged his sin, and he pleaded innocence since he did not know that the angel of the LORD was standing against him. He offered to turn completely around, but the angel told him to go with the men with the condition again of speaking only the word which was given by the Almighty God. So Balaam continued along with the leaders of Balak (Numbers 22:13-35).
-When Balak heard that Balaam indeed was coming, “he went out to meet him at the city of Moab, which is on the Arnon border, at the extreme end of the border.” Balak greeted Balaam with persuasive speech almost sounding offended that Balaam had not come earlier because of his ability to honor the sorcerer with many good gifts. Balaam replied to Balak that he was there, but on the condition that he could only speak the word that God would put in his mouth. They went together to the place Kiriath-huzoth where Balak offered a sacrifice of oxen and sheep and gave some of the meat to Balaam. Then, in the morning Balak took Balaam to the high places of Baal, the Moabite god, and from there they could see a portion of the people of Israel (Numbers 22:36-41).
-*Application* How often do we seek a further word from the LORD on a matter He has clearly revealed the first time? God’s patience with us is astounding as we are reminded of in this passage. We would be better off going on the primary word of the LORD when it comes to decisions in our lives. Too often we turn our own way when we know deep down what God is speaking for us to do. Don’t be like Balaam, listen and obey the first time and refuse to be swayed by the enemy. Submit to God, repent, resist the devil, and he will flee from you (Acts 3:19, James 4:7)
Verse to Memorize: Numbers 22:12