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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 23

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-30

Num 23:1-30 And God met Balaam: and Balaam said to him, I have prepared seven altars, and I have offered upon every altar a bullock and a ram. And the LORD put a word in Balaam's mouth, and said, Return to Balak, and tell him this. And so he returned to him, and he was standing by the burnt sacrifice with all of the princes of Moab. And so Balaam took up this parable, and he said, Balak the king of Moab hath brought me from Aram, out of the mountains of the east, saying, Come, curse me Jacob, and come, defy Israel. How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed? or how shall I defy, whom the LORD hath not defied? For from the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him: and lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations. And who can count the dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his! And the king said, Hey why have you done this unto me? I brought you to curse my enemies, not to bless them. And Balaam answered and said, I must take heed to speak that which the LORD has put in my mouth? ( Numbers 23:4-12 )

Now this one part of this prophecy is interesting. He said, "May I die the death of the righteous and may my last end be like his". Interesting thing how many people want to die the death of the righteous but they don't want to live the life of the righteous. They think of Christianity as something that is good to die by. Well, I wouldn't want to die any other way, but it's something that's great to live by. And yet there are people that aren't so interested in living a life of righteousness, only dying; "Let my last end be as his". I wanna die the death of the righteous. You wanna die the death of the righteous then you better live the life of the righteous.

So Balak said, "Come, and I'll show you another place, because you didn't see all of them here: there's another part, and maybe you can curse this part over here". And so he took him to the mount, the top of the mount Pisgah, and there again they built seven altars, and they offered seven rams and seven bullocks, one on each altar.

And so Balaam went to meet the Lord

And the Lord met Balaam, and put a word in his mouth, and said, Go again to Balak, and tell him this. And so he said, Rise up Balak, and hear; hearken unto me, thou son of Zippor: God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?( Numbers 23:16 , Numbers 23:18-19 )

Now this is a very interesting scripture but it is even more interesting in its context. What is the context? The context is that God has spoken his blessing upon the nation Israel. Now, he's trying to get God to turn and to curse the people that God has blessed. And "God is not a man that he shall lie or the son of man that he should repent or should change. Hath he not spoken and shall he not do it?" The immutability of God's word; He doesn't change, he's not a man.

If God has declared His blessing, His blessing shall come. That's the context. But it is a very important scripture that declares to us the nature and the character of God because there are some passages of scripture in the Old Testament that, from the passage, you might infer that God changed his mind in a situation. But "God is not a man that he should lie nor the son of man that he should change." God's purposes remain steadfast and sure.

Now there are times when it appeared that God changed. God said to Jonah "Go down and warn Nineveh I'm gonna destroy the place in forty days." And Jonah went down and preached to the Ninevites and they repented in dust and ashes, and God forestalled the judgment. Had they not repented, they would've been destroyed in forty days. Because they repented, God gave them an extension of time, but God knew all along he was gonna give them the extension of time.

We have extreme difficulty in thinking as God thinks. For a little while this afternoon I watched SC playing Washington. I wasn't really excited about it. In fact, I was so unexcited I finally turned the thing off because I knew what the score was, the final score that is. I knew who was gonna win.

I looked at that game today entirely different from what I would have looked at it yesterday. Rather an exciting game yesterday, but today it didn't nearly have the excitement because it's all a replay. So I know the score, I know what's gonna happen. I know what's gonna be the result. Oh, they just got penalized five yards, oh no. That's all right. White's gonna, you know, bust through on the next play. See you don't get all shook and upset because of the penalty. You know that Garcia's gonna catch the pass in the in-zone. And it's a thing where you're watching it but it's a funny thing because you're not really getting too much into it because you know exactly what the result is gonna be.

Now this is the way that God looks at our lives. In Psalms it says, "We spend our lives like a tale that has been told"( Psalms 90:9 ), or a story that's already told. We spend our lives like a rerun. God knowing the end from the beginning looked at us, knowing what the effect and the result of every step I take is gonna be, every move, every decision. God already knows the end result of it. And there are times when it looks from my angle, "Oh, the Lord's changed on this, all right. No, he already had that in mind. He knew that from the beginning. My attitude towards it has changed, my perspective has changed but God remains the same.

"God is not a man that he should lie, nor the son of man that he should repent." So those scriptures said, "And it repented God that he created man" and all. It is only looking at God from a human standpoint and trying to define the actions of God with human language, which is impossible to do because God dwells in a dimension that is so totally outside of our time zone and our space dimension that we cannot. And we don't even have words to describe the activities of God. Thus, we have to use words that we have but they are very limited and do not truly describe the full actions of God. If he is God he cannot change. "Hath I not spoken and shall I not make it good? ( Numbers 12:2 )"

Behold, I have received a commandment to bless: and he has blessed; and I cannot reverse it. For he has not beheld iniquity in Jacob ( Numbers 23:20-21 ),

"Oh, help us." What do you mean? He just sent the fiery serpents among them two weeks ago or two months ago, whatever the case was, because of their complaining. Hey, isn't that a neat God? He has not beheld iniquity in Jacob. It isn't because there wasn't iniquity in Jacob, but it's because God chose not to see it. That is what David was talking about when he said, "Oh how happy is the man to whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity."

Now we hear or told of Santa Claus that he's making out a list and checking it twice and gonna find out who's naughty and nice. And a lot of people picture God that way, making out His list. But God has no list for me of evil. "Oh how happy is the man to whom the Lord doesn't impute iniquity." That account was destroyed.

God said that He did not see any iniquity in Jacob. That, to me, is glorious; that's grace. That is God's grace because it was there but God chose not to see it, even as He is chosen not to see the iniquity of those who are believing and trusting in his Son Jesus Christ. But we'll leave that to Romans to deal with as we move along and get there later, but I think that's a fabulous scripture.

neither is there any divination against Israel: according to this time it shall be said of Jacob and Israel, What God hath wrought! ( Numbers 23:23 )

Oh, when see what God-people are gonna say, "What God hath wrought". As God brings the people in the land, establishes a nation they're gonna say, "Oh, look what God has wrought!" I love that. I love that, I love that whole concept; "Look what God has wrought!"

That's the neat thing about Calvary Chapel is that men can't put a finger on the success of this place. God's chosen to use a nobody and a bunch of nobodies to do a beautiful work. And people come around, the scholars and the geniuses all come around and try to analyze it and figure out what's happening and why it's happening and classify it and codify it and everything else and they walk away scratching their heads. They can't figure it out. Preachers go away and say, "Man, I can preach a better sermon than that and I'm much better looking than he is. Why don't I have success?" Isn't that neat? They just can't figure it out. You can only say, "What God hath wrought!" choosing again the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. Just to put them in total consternation and confusing them, doing a work that only He can receive praise and credit and glory for and I absolutely love it. "What God hath wrought!"

Interesting verse there. The prophet said there's no divination, no enchantment that can be used against him. And I want you to know this: that as a child of God there is, there is no charm, enchantment, divination and all, hex or anything else that people can put on you that will have any effect. Now there are a lot of times people get worried because there are people with psychic powers, great psychic powers. They can bend nails and kinds of stuff like this with their psychic powers and they can put curses and hexes on people. And sometimes I think "Oh my, you know, I've been praying and maybe they're gonna put a hex on me". No.

There's-the scriptures declares, Isaiah 51:1-23 , I think. "No weapon that is formed against thee". Fifty-four, thank you. I was close. "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper. And every mouth that is raised up against thee; thou shalt condemn, for this is the heritage of the children of the Lord". What is the heritage? No weapon against you can prosper. There's no divination, no enchantment, no hex that can be put on you that will have any effect at all because you're God's child and because God has chosen to bless you as His child. It can't be reversed. There's no curse or hex that anyone can put on you and the prophet recognized it; there's, there's nothing I can do, there's no divination against Israel.

Behold, the people shall rise up as a great lion, and lift himself up as a young lion: and shall not lie down until he eats of the prey, and drinks the blood of the slain. And Balak said to Balaam, Look if you can't curse them, then don't bless them ( Numbers 23:24-25 ).

In other words, you can't something bad, don't say anything.

And so Balaam answered Balak and said, Didn't I tell you that all that the Lord speaks to me, I must do? And so Balak said to Balaam, Now come on, I'll bring you to another place; maybe God at that point will curse them. So Balak brought him to the top of another mountain, Peor, that looks towards Jeshimon. And Balaam said to Balak, Build me seven altars ( Numbers 23:26-29 ),

And they did, went through the same routine.


Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Numbers 23". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/numbers-23.html. 2014.
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