Monday 14 December 2009

Bible Book:

"I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near – a star shall come out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall rise out of Israel." (v.17a)

Numbers 24:2-7, 15-17 Monday 14 December 2009


The book of Numbers gets its name from the 'numbering' or censusof Israel described in several parts of the book. It covers 38years of Israelite history - the period of wandering in the desertin the Sinai peninsula. Numbers begins 2 years after the escapefrom Egypt (the Exodus) and ends shortly before the entry intoCanaan, the land which God had promised to Israel. Much of it is astory of struggle, complaint and discontent. An entire generationhad witnessed the wonders of God's deliverance from Egypt, but onlythree individuals - Moses, Joshua and Caleb - survive to the end ofthe book. Only two, Joshua and Caleb, were to enter Canaan.

Israel had arrived at the plains of Moab. With the Israelitesencamped on his doorstep Balak, king of Moab, sends for Balaam thediviner to come and curse his enemies. This would have been aroutine matter for a prophet at a time when everyone thought words,especially blessings and curses, had the power to influenceevents.

But Balak doesn't get what he asked for. Balaam's knowledge comesdirectly from God and neither bribes or threats can persuade him tosay anything other than the truth as God reveals it to him. Threetimes Balak and Balaam go through the same ritual (22:41 -23:10; 23:13-24; 23:27 - 24:9). Andeach time the prophet blesses Israel and the king becomesincreasingly angry.

Balaak's fourth oracle (24:15-24) is aprediction of Israel's future. The prophet says Israel will defeatMoab and Edom. This occurred during the reign of King David. 'Astar' was a way of referring to a king (see Revelation 22:16),but this passage influenced the belief that the birth of theMessiah ('anointed one') would be heralded by a star. Matthew'sGospel describes how a star led the Wise Men to Jesus (Matthew2:1-12).

To Ponder

What are the unpopular truths that you need totell or hear? What will help you to do so?

How has God spoken to you through unlikelypeople?

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