“When Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to bless Israel, he did not go as at other times to seek omens but he set his face toward the wilderness. And Balaam lifted up his eyes and saw Israel camping tribe by tribe; and the Spirit of God came upon him. He took up his discourse and said, ‘The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor, and the oracle of the man whose eye is opened; The oracle of him who hears the words of God, who sees the vision of the Almighty, Falling down, yet having his eyes uncovered” (Num 24:1-4).

The strategic importance of these four verses cannot be overemphasized because they highlight the great importance of Balaam’s third discourse. In these verses, the inspired author sets the stage as Balaam prepares to curse the people of Israel for the third time (see Num 24:10). Six remarkable details stand out. First, Balaam does not use omens as he had on previous occasions (Num 24:1). Second, Balaam sees ALL the tribes of Israel this time, and not just a portion of the people (compare Num 24:2 with 22:41; 23:13). Third, the Spirit of God comes upon him (Num 24:2). Fourth, the author identifies Balaam’s third discourse as an “oracle.” Though only used two other times in the Torah (Gen 22;16; Num 14:28), the word “oracle” appears six times in Numbers 24 (Num 24:3-4, 15-16). An “oracle” in the Scripture is an inspired word from the LORD. Fifth, Balaam speaks this prophetic oracle with eyes completely opened (Num 24:3-4, 15-16; compare Num 22:31). Sixth, Balaam’s third discourse is called a “vision” (Num 24:4, 16), a word used only one other time in the Torah to describe God’s appearance to Abraham in Genesis 15 (Gen. 15:1).

A ferocious, yet infinitely compassionate lion!

Why is Balaam’s third discourse so heavily marked? Because God desperately wants the people of Israel and the nations of the world to see with open eyes the fount of all his blessings! C.S. Lewis was certainly correct when he described the only hope for Adam’s sons and daughters to escape the witch’s curse as the coming of a ferocious, yet infinitely compassionate lion!

“He couches, he lies down as a lion, and as a lion, who dares rouse him? Blessed is everyone who blesses you, and cursed is everyone who curses you…. I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; a star shall come forth from Jacob, a scepter shall rise from Israel, and shall crush through the forehead of Moab, and tear down all the sons of Sheth” (Num 24:9, 17).

“Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He couches, he lies down as a lion, and as a lion, who dares rouse him up? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples” (Gen 49:9-10).

Show the world you are One for Israel!

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