March 4, Numbers 23-25

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23 Then Balaam said to Balak, “Build me seven altars here and prepare seven bulls and seven rams for me.” So Balak did as Balaam directed, and they offered a bull and a ram on each altar. Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here by your burnt offering while I am gone. Maybe the Lord will meet with me. I will tell you whatever he reveals to me.” So he went to a barren hill.God met with him and Balaam said to him, “I have arranged seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.” Then the Lord put a message in Balaam’s mouth and said, “Return to Balak and say what I tell you.”So he returned to Balak, who was standing there by his burnt offering with all the officials of Moab.

Balaam’s First Oracle

Balaam proclaimed his poem:Balak brought me from Aram;the king of Moab, from the eastern mountains:“Come, put a curse on Jacob for me;come, denounce Israel!” How can I curse someone God has not cursed?How can I denounce someone the Lordhas not denounced?I see them from the top of rocky cliffs,and I watch them from the hills.There is a people living alone;it does not consider itself among the nations.10 Who has counted the dust of Jacobor numbered even one-fourth of Israel?Let me die the death of the upright;let the end of my life be like theirs.11 “What have you done to me?” Balak asked Balaam. “I brought you to curse my enemies, but look, you have only blessed them!”12 He answered, “Shouldn’t I say exactly what the Lord puts in my mouth?” 

Balaam’s Second Oracle

13 Then Balak said to him, “Please come with me to another place where you can see them. You will only see the outskirts of their camp; you won’t see all of them. From there, put a curse on them for me.” 14 So Balak took him to Lookout Field[a] on top of Pisgah, built seven altars, and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.15 Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here by your burnt offering while I seek the Lord over there.”16 The Lord met with Balaam and put a message in his mouth. Then he said, “Return to Balak and say what I tell you.”17 So he returned to Balak, who was standing there by his burnt offering with the officials of Moab. Balak asked him, “What did the Lordsay?”18 Balaam proclaimed his poem:Balak, get up and listen;son of Zippor, pay attention to what I say!19 God is not a man, that he might lie,or a son of man, that he might change his mind.Does he speak and not act,or promise and not fulfill?20 I have indeed received a command to bless;since he has blessed,[b] I cannot change it.21 He considers no disaster for Jacob;he sees no trouble for Israel.[c]The Lord their God is with them,and there is rejoicing over the King among them.22 God brought them out of Egypt;he is like the horns of a wild ox for them.[d]23 There is no magic curse against Jacoband no divination against Israel.It will now be said about Jacob and Israel,“What great things God has done!”24 A people rise up like a lioness;they rouse themselves like a lion.They will not lie down until they devour the preyand drink the blood of the slain.25 Then Balak told Balaam, “Don’t curse them and don’t bless them!”26 But Balaam answered him, “Didn’t I tell you: Whatever the Lord says, I must do?” 

Balaam’s Third Oracle

27 Again Balak said to Balaam, “Please come. I will take you to another place. Maybe it will be agreeable to God that you can put a curse on them for me there.” 28 So Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor, which overlooks the wasteland.[e]29 Balaam told Balak, “Build me seven altars here and prepare seven bulls and seven rams for me.” 30 So Balak did as Balaam said and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.24 Since Balaam saw that it pleased the Lordto bless Israel, he did not go to seek omens as on previous occasions, but turned[a] toward the wilderness. When Balaam looked up and saw Israel encamped tribe by tribe, the Spirit of God came on him, and he proclaimed his poem:The oracle of Balaam son of Beor,the oracle of the man whose eyes are opened,the oracle of one who hears the sayings of God,who sees a vision from the Almighty,who falls into a trance with his eyes uncovered:How beautiful are your tents, Jacob,your dwellings, Israel.They stretch out like river valleys,[b]like gardens beside a stream,like aloes the Lord has planted,like cedars beside the water.Water will flow from his buckets,and his seed will be by abundant water.His king will be greater than Agag,and his kingdom will be exalted.God brought him out of Egypt;he is like[c] the horns of a wild ox for them.He will feed on enemy nationsand gnaw their bones;he will strike them with his arrows.He crouches, he lies down like a lionor a lioness—who dares to rouse him?Those who bless you will be blessed,and those who curse you will be cursed.10 Then Balak became furious with Balaam, struck his hands together, and said to him, “I summoned you to put a curse on my enemies, but instead, you have blessed them these three times. 11 Now go to your home! I said I would reward you richly, but look, the Lord has denied you a reward.”12 Balaam answered Balak, “Didn’t I previously tell the messengers you sent me: 13 If Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go against the Lord’s command, to do anything good or bad of my own will? I will say whatever the Lord says.14 Now I am going back to my people, but first, let me warn you what these people will do to your people in the future.”

Balaam’s Fourth Oracle

15 Then he proclaimed his poem:The oracle of Balaam son of Beor,the oracle of the man whose eyes are opened;16 the oracle of one who hears the sayings of Godand has knowledge from the Most High,who sees a vision from the Almighty,who falls into a trance with his eyes uncovered:17 I see him, but not now;I perceive him, but not near.A star will come from Jacob,and a scepter will arise from Israel.He will smash the forehead[d] of Moaband strike down[e] all the Shethites.[f]18 Edom will become a possession;Seir will become a possession of its enemies,but Israel will be triumphant.19 One who comes from Jacob will rule;he will destroy the city’s survivors.20 Then Balaam saw Amalek and proclaimed his poem:Amalek was first among the nations,but his future is destruction.21 Next he saw the Kenites and proclaimed his poem:Your dwelling place is enduring;your nest is set in the cliffs.22 Kain will be destroyedwhen Asshur takes you captive.23 Once more he proclaimed his poem:Ah, who can live when God does this?24 Ships will come from the coast of Kittim;they will carry out raids against Asshur and Eber,but they too will come to destruction.25 Balaam then arose and went back to his homeland, and Balak also went his way.25 While Israel was staying in the Acacia Grove,[a] the people began to prostitute themselves with the women of Moab. The women invited them to the sacrifices for their gods, and the people ate and bowed in worship to their gods. So Israel aligned itself with Baal of Peor, and the Lord’s anger burned against Israel. The Lord said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of the people and execute[b]them in broad daylight before the Lord so that his burning anger may turn away from Israel.”So Moses told Israel’s judges, “Kill each of the men who aligned themselves with Baal of Peor.”

Phinehas Intervenes

An Israelite man came bringing a Midianite woman to his relatives in the sight of Moses and the whole Israelite community while they were weeping at the entrance to the tent of meeting. When Phinehas son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, saw this, he got up from the assembly, took a spear in his hand, followed the Israelite man into the tent,[c] and drove it through both the Israelite man and the woman—through her belly. Then the plague on the Israelites was stopped, but those who died in the plague numbered twenty-four thousand.10 The Lord spoke to Moses, 11 “Phinehas son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, has turned back my wrath from the Israelites because he was zealous among them with my zeal,[d] so that I did not destroy the Israelites in my zeal. 12 Therefore declare: I grant him my covenant of peace. 13 It will be a covenant of perpetual priesthood for him and his future descendants,because he was zealous for his God and made atonement for the Israelites.”14 The name of the slain Israelite man, who was struck dead with the Midianite woman, was Zimri son of Salu, the leader of a Simeonite family.[e15 The name of the slain Midianite woman was Cozbi, the daughter of Zur, a tribal head of a family in Midian.

Vengeance against the Midianites

16 The Lord told Moses: 17 “Attack the Midianites and strike them dead. 18 For they attacked you with the treachery that they used against you in the Peor incident. They did the same in the case involving their sister Cozbi, daughter of the Midianite leader who was killed the day the plague came at Peor.”

Balaam was supposed to curse the Israelites but God spoke to him through his donkey. He got his attention. Sometimes, God uses extraordinary means to get his message to us. Other times, he uses things that we see as normal. 

The Bible is an extraordinary book. We see it as a normal book many times, but it came to us through extraordinary means. It is Gods her word to us. Treasure this revelation of God to us!

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