Who is Balaam?
At this point on my journey in the wilderness with the Israelites, I think I need a little context and perspective. Today’s chapters about a donkey that somehow talks, and a spiritual medium who somehow talks to God, left me scratching my head. So, I think I’ll turn to my husband’s trusty old Bible with the great notes at the beginning of each book.
Published in 1976 by Thomas Nelson
As I mentioned in a previous post, these notes are so good to me that I wrote some of them in my own Bible on whatever nearby blank page that I could find. I’ll share those below, in case they’re also helpful to you…
In the book of Numbers, we see the children of Israel depart from Mt. Sinai and march to Kadesh-barnea where the attitude of unbelief is crystallized in to actual disobedience (Hebrew 3:19).
After Kadesh-barnea they began to wander until that entire generatin died in the wilderness (except Joshua and Caleb.)
Numbers 14:29-31: These verses outline the experiences of the children of Israel during the time of wandering until the new generation came to the east bank of the Jordan in the land of Moab.
They spent 40 years on a journey that should have taken 40 days. At the end of the wanderings they came back to the same place (Numbers 20:1).
From Egypt to Mt. Sinai: The first 10 chapters deal with the order of the camp. Israel was not a mob crossing the desert. Every man had to know who he was and where he belonged in the camp.
The years of wandering were not exactly wasted. God taught them many precious lessons during this period.
The rebellion of Korah led to the confirmation of the priesthood of Aaron by the budding of the almond rod. This has become a picture of the priesthood of Christ which is based on His resurrection.
The constant complaining of the people led to the judgment by serpents, and the provision of the serpent of brass as the remedy. This teaches us that Christ was made sin for us.
Balaam is one of the badmen of the Bible. He was a heathen prophet with magical powers. He is specifically labeled as a soothsayer (Joshua 13:22).
Balaam gave four of the most remarkable prophecies in the Scriptures regarding Israel:
Numbers 24:17-24 (This is the source from which the wise men could have known about the star.)
Balaam had some knowledge of God and God used him.
The Scriptures have a great deal to say about Balaam:
Jude 1:11 – The error of Balaam was that he concluded a righteous God must curse Israel.
2 Peter 2:15 – The way of Balaam was that he prostituted his gift for gain.
Revelation 2:14 – The doctrine of Balaam was his counsel to Balak.
At chapter 26 the new generation has come of age. Preparation is made for entering the promised land.
Now, that I have some understanding, I think I can proceed. But, there’s still no explanation of the talking donkey. Why wasn't Balaam startled that the donkey was speaking? Was this a common occurrence for him? Maybe Balaam was so spiritually intuitive that he could even communicate with animals. Clearly he wasn’t surprised that the donkey could speak because he responded right away, as if they’d had conversations before.
What did you think of Balaam and his donkey? Feel free to comment below, or by visiting my Facebook page.
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