The Four Oracles of Balaam

[Num 23:7-10] 7 And Balaam took up his discourse and said, “From Aram Balak has brought me, the king of Moab from the eastern mountains: ‘Come, curse Jacob for me, and come, denounce Israel!’ 8 How can I curse whom God has not cursed? How can I denounce whom the LORD has not denounced? 9 For from the top of the crags I see him, from the hills I behold him; behold, a people dwelling alone, and not counting itself among the nations! 10 Who can count the dust of Jacob or number the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the upright, and let my end be like his!”

The most significant part of this passage is that Jacob is “a people dwelling alone, not counting itself among the nations.” Tribal pride is not what is referred to here; Israel’s religious identity was distinct and exclusive, and when they followed God according to his commands, they were set apart from all others. They’re not just another nation with another identity; they were meant to be unique and a sort of intermediary between God and the rest of the nations.

[Num 23:18-24] 18 And Balaam took up his discourse and said, “Rise, Balak, and hear; give ear to me, O son of Zippor: 19 God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? 20 Behold, I received a command to bless: he has blessed, and I cannot revoke it. 21 He has not beheld misfortune in Jacob, nor has he seen trouble in Israel. The LORD their God is with them, and the shout of a king is among them. 22 God brings them out of Egypt and is for them like the horns of the wild ox. 23 For there is no enchantment against Jacob, no divination against Israel; now it shall be said of Jacob and Israel, ‘What has God wrought!’ 24 Behold, a people! As a lioness it rises up and as a lion it lifts itself; it does not lie down until it has devoured the prey and drunk the blood of the slain.”

God had given Israel a covenant that they would be the conduit through which God would bless the world (the Abrahamic promise) and would be the dominant entity over all the earth – a sort of “priesthood” to the world:

[Exo 19:3-6] 3 while Moses went up to God. The LORD called to him out of the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: 4 You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”

However, as I have explained in previous posts, Israel failed in their calling. They were not the first to fail; the highest angel, commonly called “Satan,” was in a similar position. He was an anointed Guardian Cherub who was on “the holy mountain of God,” and “in the midst of the stones of fire” he walked. But alas, he fell. His “heart was proud” because of his beauty. Like Israel who prostituted itself to the Assyrians and Babylonians, Satan was enamored with his own beauty. This led to the events described in Psalm 82. Satan fell, and took 1/3 of the angels with him.

The point is, Israel was made for more than this. But God had a solution – like a potter works with Clay, God worked the spoiled clay into another vessel:

[Jer 18:4] 4 And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.

This is a parallel pattern to the Romans 11 notion of the olive tree; Israel as an olive tree had its branches cut off such that the Gentiles could be grafted into it. Israel was cut to a stump, so to speak.

One may ask, will Satan eventually come around to God’s dominion, as Israel will if they accept Christ?

[2Pe 2:4] 4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;

[Jde 1:6] 6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day–

It is believed that angels have a different constitution than humans, and are therefore not helped by Christ’s sacrifice. But Satan’s fall nonetheless mirrors the fall of Israel, given Solomon’s characteristics. A passage from another writing:

Solomon represents an intellectualization of the same qualities of Esau – the focus on the here and now, skill and wisdom over spirituality, pleasure over lineage and responsibility, and of physicality over the eternal. Solomon’s many wives and concubines also tell the tale of a man enamored with humanity, not God. It is surprising that only three of Solomon’s children are named in the Old Testament. With hundreds of wives and concubines, one would expect substantially more – perhaps they are simply not mentioned, but this illustrates pleasure over fruitfulness and possibly some sort of primitive contraceptives used by Solomon or his wives. A contraceptive, scarcity mentality comes to the fore in every advanced society – the need for population control to keep the party going. Eventually, some excuse is given as to why procreation or more people is a strange or even bad thing. Given Solomon’s corruption, it is no surprise that Mary’s Davidic lineage goes through Nathan the son of David rather than Solomon the son of David.
Esau’s fault (and Solomon’s) goes much deeper, however, than a mere rejection of the divine. Esau did not care about what would come after him. His birthright – the responsibility to carry the family’s destiny, heritage, and eternal purposes – meant nothing to him. All it took was one bout of hunger and he would sell it for lentil soup. The writer of Hebrews calls him “profane” or “ungodly,” and it is also written, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau I hated.”
Atheism is a belief that has only been in vogue for the past few hundred years, but much of human history is men acting as if there is no single higher being or purpose to which they will be held accountable in time. Even the temptation of the fruit of the garden was the desire to “know good and evil,” on human terms. Solomon desired to know the world as he could perceive it, and thus denied himself no pleasure. What we do every day is what we believe, whether we realize it or not.

[Num 24:3-9] 3 and he took up his discourse and said, “The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor, the oracle of the man whose eye is opened, 4 the oracle of him who hears the words of God, who sees the vision of the Almighty, falling down with his eyes uncovered: 5 How lovely are your tents, O Jacob, your encampments, O Israel! 6 Like palm groves that stretch afar, like gardens beside a river, like aloes that the LORD has planted, like cedar trees beside the waters. 7 Water shall flow from his buckets, and his seed shall be in many waters; his king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted. 8 God brings him out of Egypt and is for him like the horns of the wild ox; he shall eat up the nations, his adversaries, and shall break their bones in pieces and pierce them through with his arrows. 9 He crouched, he lay down like a lion and like a lioness; who will rouse him up? Blessed are those who bless you, and cursed are those who curse you.”

David conquered or made vassals of many of the surrounding nations, and the extent of his conquests are vaguely recorded biblically. Yet, he was only a pattern of a New Israel which would have its consummation in the second appearance of Christ; no longer as a suffering servant, but as the one “sitting on the white horse, whose name is faithful and true, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems…” It is fascinating that he has many diadems – which leads to the next Balaam Oracle:

[Num 24:12-24] 12 And Balaam said to Balak, “Did I not tell your messengers whom you sent to me, 13 ‘If Balak should give me his house full of silver and gold, I would not be able to go beyond the word of the LORD, to do either good or bad of my own will. What the LORD speaks, that will I speak’? 14 And now, behold, I am going to my people. Come, I will let you know what this people will do to your people in the latter days.” 15 And he took up his discourse and said, “The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor, the oracle of the man whose eye is opened, 16 the oracle of him who hears the words of God, and knows the knowledge of the Most High, who sees the vision of the Almighty, falling down with his eyes uncovered: 17 I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near: a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel; it shall crush the forehead of Moab and break down all the sons of Sheth. 18 Edom shall be dispossessed; Seir also, his enemies, shall be dispossessed. Israel is doing valiantly. 19 And one from Jacob shall exercise dominion and destroy the survivors of cities!” 20 Then he looked on Amalek and took up his discourse and said, “Amalek was the first among the nations, but its end is utter destruction.” 21 And he looked on the Kenite, and took up his discourse and said, “Enduring is your dwelling place, and your nest is set in the rock. 22 Nevertheless, Kain shall be burned when Asshur takes you away captive.” 23 And he took up his discourse and said, “Alas, who shall live when God does this? 24 But ships shall come from Kittim and shall afflict Asshur and Eber; and he too shall come to utter destruction.”

There are many loose ends to tie up. Jesus referenced Moses’ seat in a discussion with his disciples, which was to be taken from the possession of the Pharisees. Jesus was the “son of David,” and he is the final occupant of David’s throne, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. I personally believe that the Papacy is “that which restrains” which will be removed:

[2Th 2:1-10] 1 Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, 2 not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. 5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.

Jesus will likewise fulfill his own words that the gates of hell will not prevail against his Church. He will finally attain, by his own power, many of the other titles due to him in the end:

[Sng 6:10] 10 “Who is this who looks down like the dawn, beautiful as the moon, bright as the sun, awesome as an army with banners?”

[Isa 63:1] 1 Who is this who comes from Edom, in crimsoned garments from Bozrah, he who is splendid in his apparel, marching in the greatness of his strength? “It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save.”
[Isa 63:2-4] 2 Why is your apparel red, and your garments like his who treads in the winepress? 3 “I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood spattered on my garments, and stained all my apparel. 4 For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and my year of redemption had come.

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