[Numbers 24] True Prophets Acting Falsely. Have you ever seen a false prophet in action? Or perhaps in truth, you merely saw a true prophet acting falsely! In this chapter, we find the continued efforts of Balaam to curse God’s people. From time to time, you will have in your life those who will expend every effort to make you miserable. They will pray, sacrifice, humble themselves at great lengths hoping that God will somehow act on their behalf to bring you to shame. In our chapter today, every time Balaam opens his mouth to curse God brings another tremendous blessing. The end of Balaam is a caution to us when we speak criticism against our brothers and sisters. When we criticize and vilify others, we bring swift and unnecessary retribution down on our own lives that could have been avoided if we had rested our case before God.
[Num 24:1-25 KJV] 1 And when Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to bless Israel, he went not, as at other times, to seek for enchantments, but he set his face toward the wilderness. 2 And Balaam lifted up his eyes, and he saw Israel abiding [in his tents] according to their tribes; and the spirit of God came upon him. 3 And he took up his parable, and said, Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open hath said: 4 He hath said, which heard the words of God, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling [into a trance], but having his eyes open: 5 How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, [and] thy tabernacles, O Israel! 6 As the valleys are they spread forth, as gardens by the river’s side, as the trees of lign aloes which the LORD hath planted, [and] as cedar trees beside the waters. 7 He shall pour the water out of his buckets, and his seed [shall be] in many waters, and his king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted. 8 God brought him forth out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn: he shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce [them] through with his arrows. 9 He couched, he lay down as a lion, and as a great lion: who shall stir him up? Blessed [is] he that blesseth thee, and cursed [is] he that curseth thee. 10 And Balak’s anger was kindled against Balaam, and he smote his hands together: and Balak said unto Balaam, I called thee to curse mine enemies, and, behold, thou hast altogether blessed [them] these three times. 11 Therefore now flee thou to thy place: I thought to promote thee unto great honour; but, lo, the LORD hath kept thee back from honour. 12 And Balaam said unto Balak, Spake I not also to thy messengers which thou sentest unto me, saying, 13 If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the commandment of the LORD, to do [either] good or bad of mine own mind; [but] what the LORD saith, that will I speak? 14 And now, behold, I go unto my people: come [therefore, and] I will advertise thee what this people shall do to thy people in the latter days. 15 And he took up his parable, and said, Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open hath said: 16 He hath said, which heard the words of God, and knew the knowledge of the most High, [which] saw the vision of the Almighty, falling [into a trance], but having his eyes open: 17 I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth. 18 And Edom shall be a possession, Seir also shall be a possession for his enemies; and Israel shall do valiantly. 19 Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion, and shall destroy him that remaineth of the city. 20 And when he looked on Amalek, he took up his parable, and said, Amalek [was] the first of the nations; but his latter end [shall be] that he perish for ever. 21 And he looked on the Kenites, and took up his parable, and said, Strong is thy dwellingplace, and thou puttest thy nest in a rock. 22 Nevertheless the Kenite shall be wasted, until Asshur shall carry thee away captive. 23 And he took up his parable, and said, Alas, who shall live when God doeth this! 24 And ships [shall come] from the coast of Chittim, and shall afflict Asshur, and shall afflict Eber, and he also shall perish for ever. 25 And Balaam rose up, and went and returned to his place: and Balak also went his way.
Balaam the prophet, was hired by king Balak in chapter 22 of Numbers to curse Israel to no avail. In chapter 23, we saw Balak take Balaam to several high places near the people’s encampment to repeat these efforts. They sacrifice and make many attempts to appease God in hopes that He will relent and curse Israel. Had they borne in mind the promise of Abraham, they would have thought twice about this campaign against the people of God:
[Gen 12:3 KJV] 3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
The wording here implies, “I will execrate from your life those that that even trifle with you…” If you are a kingdom seeker, there will be times that others will seek to do you harm. The fact that this is written in the bible tells us that not only did it take place, but there was a line of backchannel communication to Moses that this was going on in the first place. Did Moses have anything to fear? Was there any good in hearing what the enemy was saying? Was there any possibility of Balaam being successful? Balaam himself said he could not curse those God had blessed.
Never listen to your critics. Never listen to your critics’ mutual acquaintances who come to you to tell you what is being said behind your back. Never retaliate against your detractors. The blessing of Abraham included the mandate to “be a blessing” as well as to be blessed. Forgive. Release. Bless. Move on. Keep on seeking the kingdom.
In v. 2, we see that the Spirit of God rested upon Balaam. What does that tell us? Balaam was an accurate prophet. Not one time in all of this did he fail to say exactly what God told him. Why is he considered a false prophet then? In actuality, Balaam is not a false prophet in the commonly understood meaning of that term. He speaks precisely what God tells him to say despite great pressure to do the contrary. Many prophets today struggle with this because they are influenced and coerced by others to say what people want to hear rather than what God would have them to say. In reality, Balaam is what I call a true prophet acting falsely. He will eventually pay for this with his life. How can we avoid the error of Balaam?
If you move in the prophetic, you must learn to have no opinion and not be influenced by people, situations, or circumstances around you. Learn to go down inside yourself to hear the word of the Lord and listen to and obey your first witness. When others coerce you, do not yield to their manipulation. If you move in pity or self-interest, you are walking on dangerous ground. Hearing from God is not a matter of clairvoyance or psychic ability. Listen to the first witness that comes to you before your mind or outside influences attempt to persuade you to violate the leading of the still, small voice.
In v. 5, we hear the blessing of the Lord in the mouth of a misguided prophet. He blesses Israel while seeking an advantage against them. This is the sovereignty of God at work. Israel pleased the Lord in this season, and God used their enemies Balaam and Balak to bless them. When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies be at peace with him (Psa. 16:7).
“How goodly are thy tents and tabernacles…” The tents and tabernacles speak of our own persons, for our physical bodies are the tabernacles of God. Isaiah wrote in the psalms that we are trees of righteousness (Isa. 61:3). In v. 7, we read, “He shall pour water out of His buckets…” God has waters in his buckets that he pours out upon our seed. What are God’s buckets? God’s ministers and teachers are vessels in God’s hands (Rom. 9:21). Paul spoke of his life being poured out (2 Tim. 4:6). God wants his ministers to pour out the many waters of His Spirit onto the seed of the people of God. What is the seed? Your seed is your faith. God wants your seeds to be in many waters. Your seed is anything that you are planting for kingdom purposes. You see, the ministry’s place is to pour out their anointing on to the seeds that you are sowing. God doesn’t want your pastor or minister to pour just a little dropper on Sunday morning on to your seeds sown – God wants your minister to pour buckets full of many waters on your seed. The minister provides the water, and you must provide the seed. What is being sown, and what is being poured out, and what is the result?
In v. 8, mention is made of the exodus from captivity. The Egypt that God brings us out of as believers is the world system. We are not of this world. The world puts Christians in the ghetto of religion to marginalize our effectiveness. You are either going to walk in religion or walk in the kingdom. When you walk in the kingdom, you are like Jesus going through the locked doors and walls of the natural finding the disciples cowering in fear and breathing the Holy Ghost upon them that they might live and be bold.
In vs. 10-13, Balak is angry yet continues to entice Balaam with great riches. In v. 13, Balaam surreptitiously suggests that Balak give him more God. This is a veiled enticement of the king on Balaam’s part. He suggests that Balak give him more gold, and perhaps he could find a way to curse Israel. You cannot be influenced by money. Most people will agree with this “yes, those money-grubbing preachers…” But how many of God’s people will not entertain one suggestion of seeking the Kingdom of God that places them in financial instability? God tells you to drag up stakes and make a costly move. The fleshy response is “that couldn’t possibly be God…” We look at pastors and ministers who live comfortable lives and are deeply offended. Yet, we rejoice and are proud to wear our sports idols’ jerseys who make obscene salaries.
In v. 17, we see a distinct and clear prophecy of the coming Messiah as the “Star out of Jacob” with a “Scepter that shall smite” the enemies of God. So amazing that in the mouth of the most hated prophet in the Old Testament comes one of the most straightforward and early prophecies of the coming Messiah. He speaks of Jesus as the one who will smite Moab. Moab is the incestuously born son of Lot. Lot represented Abraham’s compromised choices that eventually produced one of the most bitter enemies of Israel throughout her history. We have talked previously about removing the Lots from your life and blessing them away from you. The Lot figure in your life will always be attached to you with very tender heartstrings. Abraham had pity on Lot, but this misplaced empathy ultimately destroyed Lot’s destiny and brought much heartache to Abraham and his descendants for generations.
Balaam makes his exit and goes on his way, continuing his unending declaration of blessing upon the Israelites to the deep anger and disappointment of King Balak. Thus concludes Balaam’s story, who tried with all that was within him to curse Israel for hire. The only epilogue is in De. 30, when he ultimately loses his life in battle against Moses and Israel. You may have a Balaam in your life today. Here you see their eventual end. Learn to go low and worship. Learn to maintain your focus and not be distracted by your enemies’ efforts to do you harm. Listen to the voice of God and obey. The most powerful thing you can do is keep seeking the kingdom. If you will keep seeking the kingdom, all things will be added to you – including God dealing with those who seek your hurt.