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Balak / Destroyer
Numbers 22:2-25:9
HafTorah Portion Micah 5:6-6:8
Brit Chadasha 1 Corinthians 1:20-31

     “In the path that man wishes to follow, he is led.” Chesbon HaNefesh.
     This parsha opens with Balak, the king Moab, witnessing the strength of the Israelites. Numbers 22:3-4 ‘… ‘and Moab was terrified because there were so many people. Indeed, Moab was filled with dread because of the Israelites…. this horde is going to lick up everything around us as an ox licks up the grass of the field.’
    In Numbers 22:6 Balak sends men to Balaam with a message to ‘come and put a curse on these people because they are too powerful for me’ an apparently effective military strategy of the ancient world. Balak’s motive was to defeat them.  Balaam tells the messengers to spend the night and that he will return with the answer that God will give him.
     God instructs Balaam not to go, then Balak sends more officials. Balaam again inquires with God. God instructs him to go but wait.
      The prophet, Balaam who was called to curse the children of Israel for Balak, utters in Numbers 23:8-9: ‘How shall I curse whom God has not cursed? And how shall I denounce whom the Lord has not denounced? For from the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him. There! A people dwelling alone, not reckoning itself among the nations.
Numbers 23:10 ‘Who can count the dust of Jacob, or number one fourth of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my end be like his!”
     What a profound statement made by the pagan prophet Balaam: to not think itself one of the nations, to not reckon among the nations, to dwell alone in solitude.  Israel was set apart. Even Balaam saw it.  God’s people were to be outsiders, a different and distinctive people, a people who swam against the tide and challenged the idols of the age. Largely, God’s people, Judah specifically remained Judah and refused to assimilate to the dominant culture or convert to the dominant faith. We are to be the same.  We as followers of Yeshua and walking in the covenants of God. We are to be different. We don’t assimilate into the nations; we are not of the world. ‘If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.’ John 15:18-19.  1 John 2:15 ‘Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.’
     Often, we say that the world is only material or political things. It is, but the ‘world’ is much deeper than that. The trappings of the world are the snares to us given by the great deceiver. He is considered the prince of the world, Ephesians 2:2. He is the ruler of the darkness in the world, John 12:31 and he blinds, 2 Corinthians 4:4. There is dark, and there is light. Where is the grey area?
     Balaam’s second prophecy holds so many answers to the character of God and His will.
     Numbers 23:18-24 ‘Then Balaam made his pronouncement: “Get up, Balak, and listen! Turn your ears to me, son of Tzippor! 19 “God is not a human who lies or a mortal who changes his mind. When He says something, He will do it; when He makes a promise, He will fulfill it. 20 Look, I am ordered to bless; when He blesses, I can’t reverse it. 21 “No one has seen guilt in Ya‘akov, or perceived perversity in Isra’el; Adonai their God is with them and acclaimed as King among them. 22 “God, who brought them out of Egypt, gives them the strength of a wild ox; 23 thus one can’t put a spell on Ya‘akov, no magic will work against Isra’el. It can now be said of Ya‘akov and Isra’el; “Here is a people rising up like a lioness; like a lion he rears himself up — he will not lie down till he eats up the prey and drinks the blood of the slain.”
     Verse 19 states that God is not human or mortal, thus He does not change His mind.  His promises do not waiver. Jacob is guiltless and no one can cast a spell on them. How profound!
     Numbers 23:19 is a second witness to Malachi 3:6 ‘But because I, Adonai, do not change,
you sons of Ya‘akov will not be destroyed.’
     Some will try and insist that a spell is cast upon them like the old excuse “the devil made me do it.” But if one is walking in the covenants of God, there is no spell that can be cast.  We can be influenced, and we can succumb to the snare that creeps up on us, but we cannot be cursed. We are told to be vigil against those that would like to sway us which 1 Peter 5:8 warns us about. Satan cannot directly curse God’s people. So, he finds another approach.
      Balaam, appears that he is a true prophet of God. He took the time to ask God what to do, and he listened when God instructed him not to go with Balak’s men. The king sent his men back a second time with more money to persuade this seer to come curse Israel, and again he refused. He seems very spiritual and obedient to the will of God. But in Numbers 22:18-19 we see a clue: ‘Then Balaam answered and said to the servants of Balak, “Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more. 19 Now therefore, please, you also stay here tonight, that I may know what more the Lord will say to me.’
     He already received the word from God. But he is stalling, and really wants to do his own will. God allows us to do what we want to do even when we directly oppose His will.  Why? Because in verse 18 we see that is his heart is really on the bounty- the silver and gold.  Why mention it? Just say no. Peter writes about Balaam in 2 Peter 2:15-16 ‘They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 16 but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man’s voice restrained the madness of the prophet.’ Jude 11 also mentions the greed of Balaam, ‘Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.’
     In Revelation 2:14 John tells us that the fault lies with Balaam, ‘But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Bilaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.’ 
       In 2 Peter 1:3, Peter/Kefa states regarding Yeshua, ‘His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue’…(remembering that He is the Torah incarnate, He is the Word made flesh, John 1:1). 
     Peter closes this first chapter with a serious warning: ‘And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.’ 1 Peter 1:19-21.
     Like many false teachers and prophets today, Balaam was consumed with greed, wanting to do his own will and was a stumbling block to the children of Israel, causing them to sin. He became the great influencer. We must ask ourselves, how have God’s people been influenced today to sin against the Word of God and His will? 


Numbers 22:2-25:9
Micah 5:5-6:8
1 Corinthians 1:20-31

       Balak was no friend to God’s people. He was afraid and hated them. ‘Now Balak son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites, and Moab was terrified because there were so many people. Indeed, Moab was filled with dread because of the Israelites. The Moabites said to the elders of Midian, “This horde is going to lick up everything around us, as an ox licks up the grass of the field.” Numbers 22:2-4a.
However, there are two interesting statements in this parsha:
Numbers 23:8-9 ‘How shall I curse whom God has not cursed? And how shall I denounce whom the Lord has not denounced? For from the top of the rocks I see him, And from the hills I behold him. There! A people dwelling alone, not reckoning itself among the nations.

Numbers 23:10-11 Who can count the dust of Jacob, or  Or number one fourth of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous,
And let my end be like his!”

    In regards to Numbers 23:9-10, ‘There! A people dwelling alone, not reckoning itself among the nations’ - it is argued that Israel’s destiny is to be isolated, friendless, hated, abandoned and alone as if antisemitism were somehow written into the script of history. It is not. None of the Prophets said so. To the contrary, they believed that the nations of the world would eventually recognize Israel’s God and come to worship Him in the Temple in Jerusalem. 
     We see this in Zechariah 8:23 when the prophet foresees the day when: “ten people from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jewish man by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.’” This is of course a prophesy of the Messiah and the 10 men represent the descendants of the Northern Ten Tribes that were dispersed.  Zechariah 14:16 ‘And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.’
       We also see this in Ruth 1:16, ‘Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.’
     There are nations with many religions just like there are different religions governing many nations: Christianity and Islam are obvious examples. Only in the case of Israel is there a one-to-one correlation between religion and nationhood. It is the Torah of God that connects the people with God directly. It is essentially governed by Him. Balaam was right. God’s people really are unique.
     What makes God’s people “a nation dwelling alone, not reckoned among the nations,” is that their nationhood is not a matter of geography, politics or ethnicity. It is a matter of being in God’s covenant, being an example of a nation among the nations made distinctive by its faith and way of life. When we walk in the ways of Elohim, we too become a nation not reckoned among the nations.
     The other statement reminds the nations how great the people of God were and how great they are. ‘Who can count the dust of Jacob, or number one-fourth of Israel?’ Numbers 23:10. 
Are we great and strong when we stand alone? No, we are not when we stray from the righteous word of Adonai. That’s exactly what the people did. They were like pawns, wandering to and fro.  Having failed to curse them, Balaam eventually devised a plan that worked. He suggested that Moabite women seduce Israelite men and then invite them to take part in their idolatrous worship. 24,000 people died in the subsequent plague that struck the people, Numbers 25 and Numbers 31:16.
     And yet, God’s protection over His people and His complete truth are the witnesses to proof of His steadfast love.  In Numbers 23 God gives a message to Balaam to give to Balak; ‘The Lord met with Balaam and put a word in his mouth and said, “Go back to Balak and give him this word.”  So he went to him and found him standing beside his offering, with the Moabite officials. Balak asked him, “What did the Lord say?”
18 Then he spoke his message:
“Arise, Balak, and listen;
    hear me, son of Zippor.
19 God is not human, that He should lie,
    not a human being, that He should change His mind.
Does He speak and then not act?
    Does He promise and not fulfill?
20 I have received a command to bless;
    He has blessed, and I cannot change it.’ Numbers 23:16-20.
Hebrews 6:18
 ‘So that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.
Titus 1:2 ‘In hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began…’
Malachi 3:6 ‘For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.’
John 4:24 ‘God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Isaiah 55:11 ‘So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.’
      When we don’t stand with and for the entire word of Adonai, we live in confusion.  We travel to and fro in muddy waters, a little bit of this, a little bit of that. We waffle.
1 Chronicles 16:11 ‘Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!’
Ephesians 6:10 ‘Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.’
1 Corinthians 16:13  ’Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.’
Ephesians 3:20-21 ‘Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.’
Deuteronomy 31:6 ‘Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
Proverbs 18:10 ‘The Name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.’