Remembering God’s Promises, a lesson from Balaam a foreign prophet

Sunday Lesson Notes

Question: When you were a child, do you remember who you wanted to be like and why?

Read Numbers 23: 4-12

Balak was a King that did not like the Israelites. He hired a prophet by the name of Balaam to put curses on Israel for him. However, something happens to Balaam as he tries to curse Israel. Why did Balak want to curse Israel? Was he jealous? Did he want to be like the Israelites, why? 

Balaam could not and did not curse the Israelites. Instead, he only could bless them and recite the promises that God had for them. This made Balak upset. Why? Maybe he was jealous of the Israelites? Maybe he wanted to be like the Israelites but realized he couldn’t? Maybe he was upset because he could not get Balaam to do what he wanted him to do?

What were the blessings that Balaam recited?

  • The Israelites would be numerous
  • They would be set apart and chosen by God
  • They were not to be cursed by God only blessed
  • They could raise a strong army and be rich

Were the Israelites aware of the Great situation they were in? Did God withhold their blessings because they could not see that they were blessed?

It is clear from earlier readings that the Israelites did not realize what a great situation they were in. They were being led in the wilderness by God Himself as a pillar of smoke and still forgot that God was among them. How do we know? They were complaining and grumbling about not having water to drink, meat to eat or a place to settle down and live. They could not perceive the blessings they were receiving from God, but God blessed them anyway. 

The Israelites, with Moses as the leader, had just defeated the Amorites with a small number of fighters. God gave them the victory. Therefore, the Israelites were seen by other surrounding nations as a threat to their existence. This is part of why Balak wanted to curse them. 

(Remember the Amorites, later on in the old testament,  were a people that were to be destroyed completely by Saul, who did not listen and kept their plunder and lost leadership as King as a result)

Read Numbers 23: 13-26

God spoke to Balak through Balaam and told him he was not going to change his mind about blessing Israel. He would always keep his promise to bless that nation. God did this to show Balak that he was a very different GOD, different from all the other gods of the other nations. God’s love for the people did not depend on the actions of the people. God loved and took care of the people despite their actions. 

Balak should have learned that he could not buy his way into getting what he wanted. Sometimes as disciples, we can feel like we need to work our way into God’s blessings and forget God does not change his mind when he makes a promise to us. 

God took the time to personally talk to Balak, why? God is a personal God and takes an interest in our personal lives. Maybe God wanted to let Balak know that he would also have a chance to have a relationship with him too. Or, maybe God wanted to personally correct Balak’s misconception of who HE was. 

Read Numbers 23:27 - Numbers 24:17

Balak here is still mad at Balaam for not being able to curse the Israelites. He is now more blind to the situation than before. However, Balaam is now starting to see that the Israelites were chosen by God and were to be blessed and there was no changing that. He said he could see God’s plans clearly and spoke the truth about God’s promises.

Jesus spent lots of time teaching us how to see God’s promises clearly. Jesus would take the time to teach people how to see the truth and what is real and from God. 

Read Genesis 12: 1-3

In Genesis, God gave promises to Abram. We can see in Numbers where these promises are continuing to be fulfilled.  For example, God promised Abram that his offspring were to be blessed and not cursed, his name would be a great name and whoever cursed him would be cursed.. This is a promise for you in Christ!!

Although Israel was having a hard time perceiving their blessings, they still received them. It took a prophet from outside of Israel to help them to see that they were blessed and chosen by God. 

As disciples we can feel like we need to manipulate God to get what we want. Also, we can lose sight of our blessings in God when we are going through hard times. Jesus is our good shepherd and takes care of us always. He feeds us and clothes us and protects us. It is easy to get frustrated when we want more than what the shepherd provides. 

Read Numbers 24:15-19

This is a prophecy of David or Solomon’s future coming and also a prophecy about the birth and coming of Jesus. It is so encouraging to see we are deep in the Torah and there are prophecies about the coming of Jesus. Remember, don’t let a heathen prophet, ie Balaam, see God’s promises before you!

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