Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

Advent 2023: November 28 - Promise

Tuesday, November 28th: Promise

Read Numbers 22-24.

When you read the book of Numbers, we get the conflict that occurs between the faithfulness of God and the wickedness of God’s own people who rebel and constantly fight against God’s direction.
As the book wears on, you wonder if God will continue to be faithful to his promises. 
This comes together in the climax of the book.  The people of Israel are nearing the promised land and it is freaking out the King of Moab, who calls for some spiritual reinforcements.

Balaam, a prophet that seems to be rather popular in the ancient world based on recent excavations, is called in to come and curse the people of Israel in Numbers 22.
Balaam has his own struggles with God because God takes this threat head on himself and forces Balaam to only say what God will allow him to say.

Three times Balaam is called upon to curse the people, and each time God makes him give a blessing to his people instead.  Which makes the King of Moab mad since he is paying for this and not getting a return.  This shows us that God is in control and even here uses a false prophet to do his will, even while the people of Israel down below in the valley are still stubborn against God.  We see that God will remain faithful to his people, no matter what.
But there is a point here that we should not overlook.  Balaam gives a bonus oracle in Numbers 24:15-25.  If we pay attention to it, we see Jesus clear as day.

Balaam says this in verse 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…”
The oracle goes on in ways that would also point us to Jesus, but just take the verse listed above. Balaam sees a figure that is coming.  He is not here yet, but he is coming.  He will come from the people of Jacob and be King over all, and he will crush the head of Moab.

The crushing should bring us back to Genesis 3:15. The serpent’s head will be crushed.  The context helps us see that the Moab is looking to curse Israel, and that Moab is acting in the stead of the devil.  But there will come one from Israel who will destroy him by crushing his head.

Numbers 24 gives us an image of Jesus and the spiritual warfare that is behind the scenes.  It also shows us that God is invested in the story of his people Israel and is defending them because of God’s plan for salvation through his Son, Jesus Christ.