(Numbers 24, Psalm 66-67; Optional 1 John 4:1-6, Proverbs 23:15-18)
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SEE May 11 for SPECIAL NOTE on format change…
NUMBERS 24 – Although definitely a guy who received God’s eternal judgment (Josh 13:22, 2 Pet 2:15-16, Jude 11, Rev 2:14), God’s Spirit really does give Balaam true prophecy and compels him to BLESS Israel whom he was trying to collect money to CURSE (see Deut 23:5, Josh 29:9-10). Reflections… 1) Sometimes lost people have real insights and correctly proclaim even spiritual truths. Don’t assume that they’re believers or that you should pay much attention to other things they say. The ONLY reason we pay attention to prophecies like these from Balaam is because God’s authority stamped on it by the inspired author in Num 22:12, 18-20, 34-35; 23:4-5, 16; 24:1-2). 2) Just because you’ve had some amazing spiritual experiences does NOT ensure that you’re a true believer! Make sure your trust is in the one true God as revealed through Jesus, and that HE is in charge of your life as Lord and Savior and your Everything. Balaam is a powerful illustration of both Matt 7:21-27 and Heb 6:4-8.
Num 24:9 – The first half of this verse reaffirms the prophecy (ultimately Messianic) in Gen 49:9 pertaining to the tribe of Judah which God would turn into the Davidic kingly line leading to Messiah Jesus. The second half reaffirms the promise God made to Abraham in Gen 12:3. It certainly applies to how nations treated Israel, but there’s a Messianic application as well. From MacArthur Study Bible: [“The ultimate fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant centers around the coming Messiah. It is the one who blesses him who will ultimately reap God’s blessing in the future.”]
Num 24:17 – Clearly a prophecy of something in the distant future (Jesus was born about 1400 years later)… A star linked to a king! There are no other prophecies in Scripture that refer to a star, and it’s my educated guess that the wise men in Matt 2:2 were aware of this prophecy (Balaam is something like an ancient wise man / spiritual guru) and that God used this and the star to draw them to Israel searching for the recently born King of kings!
PSALM 66-67 – Both these Psalms call to ALL peoples over ALL the earth to recognize and rejoice in God’s greatness! Compare Num 24 emphasis on God blessing and ruling the whole earth by One who would come from Israel but have authority over all lands.
Ps 66:10-12 – God is in charge of the sad / tough times, too! He uses them like a refiner’s fire for silver. Wicked people were certainly INVOLVED (v 12), but it’s God and His good and wise refining / testing purposes that win. And the END of the story for every believer is complete deliverance and eternal abundance (compare v 12b to Rev 21-22).
Ps 66:16 – Biblical foundation for making opportunities for testimony times when the congregation is gathered!
Ps 66:18 – Whoa! Strong encouragement to repent linked to effective praying! For a NT example, see 1 Pet 3:7.
Ps 67 – Wonderful missionary psalm!
Ps 67:1-2 – The prayer is for God to bless His people SO THAT they can help in witnessing to the nations (NOT so that we can be comfy)!
Ps 67:3, 5 – A wonderful missions prayer and also the repeating chorus of this prayer song. I’ve set the first part of this Psalm to music – hopefully get a recording out soon 😊
Ps 67:4 – This (and really this whole Psalm) led to the title of my FAVORITE book on missions, John Piper’s Let the Nations Be Glad. If you only had time to read ONE book on missions (and you SHOULD make the time to read a book on missions and inspire your praying, giving and maybe going) it would be this one.
Ps 67:7 – Since I’m tracing the vital but oft-neglected theme of proper Fear of God, I’ve written “F” by this verse with this note: “not separate from praise and singing for joy!!”
Optional Prov 23:15-18 – Prov 23:15-16 – We need to let kids/grandkids know that what would REALLY thrill us is not worldly “success,” but this!
Pr 23:17-18 – ANOTHER reference to proper fear of God connected to benefits – CONFIDENCE because God-fearers know the glorious END of the story. Sinners (those whose life/identity is defined by what the Bible calls sin) may SEEM to do well for a while, but don’t envy them – their end is eternal judgment (yes, again see Rev 21-22).