Balaam's Call to Curse Israel

Scripture Passage: 
Numbers 22:1-41

INTRODUCTION: Balaam is one of the strangest characters in the Bible. On one hand, he is deceitful, greedy, and disobedient and works against God and His people Israel. Yet, on the other hand, God speaks through him as a true prophet and he gives some glorious prophecies concerning the coming of Christ. In the end, he is killed after using Moabite women to seduce the Israelites and is mentioned only in evil terms in the New Testament (2 Peter 2:15; Jude 1:11; Revelation 2:14).

  1. BALAK FEARS THE COMING ISRAELITES (Numbers 22:1-4)
    1. The Israelites Pitch Their Tents (Numbers 22:1).
      1. In the plains of Moab – a wide plain directly north of the Dead Sea
      2. On the eastern side of the Jordan River
    2. The Moabites Are Filled with Fear (Numbers 22:2-4).
      1. They take note of what had happened to the Amorites (Numbers 22:2; Numbers 21:21-35).
      2. The Moabites react (Numbers 22:3-4).
        1. With fear (Numbers 22:3a)
        2. With distress (Numbers 22:3b)
        3. With defeatism (Numbers 22:4)
          1. This was an unnecessary fear (Deuteronomy 2:9).
          2. Israel had defeated one of Moab’s enemies (Numbers 21:26).
          3. As the ox licketh up the grass
            1. Licketh up means to devour or consume (1 Kings 18:38).
            2. Israel is elsewhere likened to an ox (Deuteronomy 33:17).
            3. The wicked are elsewhere likened to grass (Psalm 37:1-2).
  2. BALAK CALLS BALAAM TO CURSE ISRAEL (Numbers 22:5-7)
    1. He Sends for Balaam (Numbers 22:5).
      1. The son of Beor
      2. A soothsayer (Joshua 13:22)
      3. A prophet (2 Peter 2:16)
      4. Of Pethor of Mesopotamia (Deuteronomy 23:4)
    2. The Job for Balaam (Numbers 22:6)
      1. Curse this people.
      2. That we may drive them out
      3. Balaam’s reputation for results
    3. He Sends “Rewards of Divination” (Numbers 22:7).
      1. The rewards of divination – gifts and money given to those who tell fortunes, bless, curse, etc.
      2. Balaam’s love for the wages of unrighteousness (2 Peter 2:15)
  3. BY GOD’S COMMAND BALAAM REFUSES (Numbers 22:8-14)
    1. Balaam Seeks God’s Permission (Numbers 22:8-11).
      1. Balaam expected to hear from God (Numbers 22:8).
      2. God questions the identity of the men with Balaam (Numbers 22:9).
      3. Balaam explains why these men sought his services (Numbers 22:10-11).
    2. God Refuses To Send Balaam (Numbers 22:12-14).
      1. God gives Balaam a response (Numbers 22:12).
      2. Balaam refuses to go with the princes (Numbers 22:13).
        1. Balaam only gave them part of God’s answer.
        2. If he declared all that God said, they would have known his uselessness.
      3. The princes return (Numbers 22:14).
  4. BALAK CONVINCES BALAAM (Numbers 22:15-21)
    1. Balak Sends Another Delegation (Numbers 22:15).
      1. Larger in number (Numbers 22:15)
      2. Greater in prestige (Numbers 22:15)
    2. They Make Many Promises (Numbers 22:16-17).
      1. “Let nothing hinder” is their message (Numbers 22:16).
      2. They promise promotion to Balaam (Numbers 22:17a).
      3. They offer anything Balaam wants (Numbers 22:17b).
    3. God Again Refuses To Send Balaam (Numbers 22:18-20).
      1. Balaam says the right words (Numbers 22:18).
      2. Balaam tries to get God to change His mind (Numbers 22:19).
      3. God gives a stipulation: if they come to call (Numbers 22:20).
    4. Balaam Went against God’s Will (Numbers 22:21).
      1. Balaam rose up in the morning and went with them.
      2. The men had not come again. They were still there from the night before.
      3. Balaam had already heard from the Lord that he was not to go. Notice in Numbers 22:18, he says that he cannot do less or more than what God tells him.
  5. GOD ALMOST KILLS BALAAM (Numbers 22:22-30)
    1. Balaam’s First Encounter with the Angel (Numbers 22:22-23)
      1. God’s anger was kindled (Numbers 22:22).
        1. God was angry with Balaam for going with the men.
        2. The angel of the Lord stood in the way as an adversary.
      2. The ass’s first vision of the angel of the Lord (Numbers 22:23)
        1. The ass saw the angel of the Lord with His sword drawn.
        2. The ass turned aside out of the way and went into the field.
        3. Balaam smote the ass to turn her into the way.
    2. Balaam’s Second Encounter with the Angel (Numbers 22:24-25)
      1. The angel of the Lord stood in a path of the vineyards.
        1. A wall being on this side
        2. A wall on that side
      2. The ass saw the angel of the Lord.
      3. She thrust herself unto the wall and crushed Balaam’s foot.
      4. Balaam smote the ass again.
    3. Balaam’s Third Encounter with the Angel (Numbers 22:26-27)
      1. The angel of the Lord went and stood in a narrow place where there was no way to turn to the right hand or to the left.
      2. Note:  Notice the progression of difficulty to avoid the angel of the Lord:
        1. The first time the ass could turn into the field to avoid the angel.
        2. The second time the ass thrust herself against a wall to avoid the angel.
        3. This time the ass could only fall down.
      3. The ass saw the angel of the Lord.
      4. She fell down under Balaam.
      5. Balaam smote the ass with a staff.
    4. God Opened the Mouth of the Ass (Numbers 22:28-30).
      1. The Lord opens the mouth of the ass (Numbers 22:28; Job 12:7-8).
      2. The ass’s first question (Numbers 22:28)
        1. What have I done unto thee
        2. That thou hast smitten me these three times
      3. Balaam’s response (Numbers 22:29; Proverbs 12:10)
        1. Thou hast mocked me.
        2. I wish I had a sword for now would I kill thee.
      4. The ass’s second question (Numbers 22:30)
      5. The ass’s third question (Numbers 22:30)
      6. The irony of Balaam’s response (Numbers 22:30)
        1. The ass speaks as does a man and makes complete sense.
        2. Balaam responds “nay” like an animal.
  6. THE ANGEL OF THE LORD SPEAKS TO BALAAM (Numbers 22:31-35)
    1. The Angel Is Revealed to Balaam (Numbers 22:31).
      1. He could not see the angel until his eyes were opened. This is not said of the ass, only that the Lord had to open its mouth.
      2. He sees the angel standing in the way with His sword drawn (Revelation 2:12-14).
      3. He bowed down his head and fell flat on his face.
    2. The Angel Accuses Balaam (Numbers 22:32-33).
      1. The angel of the Lord defends the ass (Numbers 22:32).
      2. The angel of the Lord rebukes Balaam (Numbers 22:32).
      3. If the ass had not turned from the angel of the Lord, Balaam would have been slain, and the ass would have been spared.
    3. Balaam Responds to the Lord (Numbers 22:34).
      1. He confesses his sin; a confession later action would show to be false.
      2. He offers to return home.
    4. The Command of the Lord (Numbers 22:35)
      1. Go with the men.
      2. Speak only the words that I speak unto you.
  7. BALAAM COMES BEFORE BALAK (Numbers 22:36-41)
    1. Balak Scolds Balaam for Not Coming Sooner (Numbers 22:36-37).
    2. Balaam Declares God as the Source of His Words (Numbers 22:38).
    3. Balak Takes Balaam to the High Places of Baal (Numbers 22:39-41).

CONCLUSION: The stage is set for some of the greatest prophecy from one of the greatest rascals. Balaam is a great puzzle; yet, God’s word is still true and God’s work still gets done. Balaam ends up dead and disgraced by the end of this story.

David Reagan and Andrew Ray

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 27:23

Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.