Term 1 – Week 3
Big Idea – God protects and blesses his people through Balaam
- See how God protected his people from any curse from Balaam.
- Rejoice that God blesses his people even though they rebel against him.
- Understand how Jesus is the promised King of Balaam’s prophecy.
- Belief – trust in God’s protection and blessing for his sinful people
- Behaviour – live for the promised King Jesus!
God’s people, the Israelites, were in the wilderness. They had arrived at the promised land decades earlier, but the people had rebelled – refusing to trust God to give them the land. The Israelites disobeyed God time and time again (13 times!), but God still provided for them. He planned to keep His promise to give Israel the promised land. As the Israelites travelled, God gave them victory over attacking armies like the Canaanites and Amorites. Not surprisingly, when Israel set up camp in the plains of Moab, on the east side of the Jordan River, Balak – the king of Moab – was terrified. The king knew he could not defeat the Israelites on his own, so he called on Balaam, a pagan prophet, to put a curse on them.
Though Balaam did not follow God, he knew of God and God spoke to him. God told Balaam, “You are not to curse this people, for they are blessed.” God’s plan all along was to bless humanity (Genesis 1:28), specifically through the nation of Israel (Genesis 12:3). So each time Balaam spoke over Israel, God did not allow him to curse the Israelite. Instead, Balaam spoke in four clear messages, insisting that God would bless the Israelites.
This is a wonderful story full of irony and humour. Balaam warns Balak that he would not go against the word of the LORD, but Balak tried anyway! Balaam travelled with the Moabites, and God uses a talking donkey to remind Balaam to say only what the LORD commands! Three times Balak asks Balaam to curse Israel, and offers sacrifices and payment to Balaam, but three times Balaam doesn’t curse Israel but blesses them! Balak is incensed and eventually gives up, refusing to pay Balaam, who then continues to bless Israel.
One of the ways God would bless the Israelites is found in Numbers 24:17 – ‘A star will come out of Jacob, a sceptre will arise from Israel.’ Balaam told of a powerful future king who would be victorious over his enemies. This prophecy is fulfilled by the risen King Jesus.
God frustrates the plans of Balak, reminding us of his steadfast goodness to his people, people who have rebelled against him and messed up time and time again. We can trust that his covenant to bless the world through his people will prevail. We can trust a God who protects and blesses his people even though they rebel and sin against him.
‘Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight’
A Very Special Tent – Ben Pakula
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