Through The Bible: Balaam

This week’s “Through the Bible” will be a little short because I have had a terrible week and am far behind. But I did read something that stood out to me more than normal and although it isn’t totally revolutionary it meant something to me.

Balaam is a very interesting character to me; he isn’t an Israelite but serves Jehovah as his mouth piece in chapter 22. The first interesting part of this story occurs in 22:20

And God came to Balaam at night and said to him, “If the men have come to call you, rise, go with them; but only do what I tell you.” 21So Balaam rose in the morning and saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab.

22But God’s anger was kindled because he went, and the angel of the LORD took his stand in the way as his adversary.

God gave him permission to go but then was angry when we went with the men to see Balak. It appears that God knew something about his heart that isn’t obvious to us with a casual reading, the overall tone of the chapter seems to me that that Balaam was trying to force God’s hand and God decided to use him to bless Israel.

The thing I found very interesting, and it may sound a little corny, was the way Balaam gave his third oracle. The first two time Balaam blesses Israel the Bible simply says “And Balaam took up his discourse and said:” (Num 23:7) and again “And Balaam took up his discourse and said,” (V 18)

For the third oracle, something different happens the bible reads this way:

When Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to bless Israel, he did not go, as at other times, to look for omens, but set his face toward the wilderness. 2And Balaam lifted up his eyes and saw Israel camping tribe by tribe. And the Spirit of God came upon him, 3and he took up his discourse and said, (Num 24:1-3)

Isreal’s CampWhen he faced the encampment he would have, as we discussed in the last “Through the Bible,” seen the cross as all Israel was camping tribe by tribe. It was only this time the Bible records “The Sprit of God” came upon him. And God seems to focus his attention on what he is seeing before turning his words toward God himself.

“The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor,
the oracle of the man whose eye is opened,
4the oracle of him who hears the words of God,
who sees the vision of the Almighty,
falling down with his eyes uncovered:
5How lovely are your tents, O Jacob,
your encampments, O Israel!

The fourth oracle begins with the same lines regarding the encampments of Israel. I wish I could draw this to a nice neat close but as I have written this and studied more I have more questions and fewer answers but this is what I wanted to touch on for this week.

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