"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .

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Friday, July 8, 2022

NUMBERS – From SINAI To The PROMISED LAND: Chapters 23

Contributing commentaries by pastors Sonny Islas, Albert Lopez and James Fire

NUMBERS 23: “The Saga of Sovereignty and Sorcery Continues” – James Fire

For the full message, watch it on the Facebook video.

INTRODUCTION:
“The Hebrew nation and its accomplishments under YHWH’s control had struck fear into the hearts of everyone in the path of their national advance [towards and into Canaan land]. The countries through which the incoming nation of Israel passed through faced not just the challenge of a new neighbor but also the progress of the Divine purpose in the world and history.

GOD said to Joshua, “No man shall be able to stand before you”.
No doubt word had spread from caravans on trade routes throughout the Middle East of a nation of Hebrew slaves, whose GOD defied and defeated the world power of their day, and their ten primary gods, Egypt. Then the Amalekites in the Sinai (EX 17), then the Amorites, and Moab and Midian; any hope and sense of security that the Hebrews would be stopped by the mighty city-state of Jericho was crushed to dust just like the hugely thick walls of that Canaanite capital! (From Zondervan’s Pictorial Encyclopedia).

In this section of NUMBERS 22 – 25 Balaam the mercenary soothsayer and sorcerer, along with the corruption of Israel is covered.
Here we find ourselves in a sorry-looking contest between sorcery and the Sovereignty of GOD! Balak the king of the Moabites was in a panic because these Hebrews and their GOD, YHWH was on their way (Moab, Ammon and Edom make up today’s Syria).
He needs to stop the Hebrews at all costs if he’s to save his nation, but he realizes that standard warfare won’t work on them, so he turns to spiritual power to fight the spiritual power of the GOD of Israel

From NUMBERS 22 "Balak [said] 'Look, a people has come out of Egypt, and they cover the face of the earth. Come now [Balaam], curse them for me; perhaps I shall be able to overpower them and drive them out.' – lots of luck!

We also saw in NUMBERS 22 that Balaam, lusted for the wealth promised to him by king Balak, but he just wouldn’t be able to curse Israel, but rather bless them, compelled by the very power of GOD! The same GOD Who will be glorified when every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess (including Satan’s) that Jesus Christ His Son is LORD of all (IS 45:23; ROM 14:11)!

So king Balak is trying for success from a different perspective, hoping that victory might be obtained from a different mountain.

NUMBERS 23:1-3
1 Then Balaam said to Balak, "Build seven altars for me here, and prepare for me here seven bulls and seven rams." 2 And Balak did just as Balaam had spoken, and Balak and Balaam offered a bull and a ram on each altar. 3 Then Balaam said to Balak, "Stand by your burnt offering, and I will go; perhaps the LORD will come to meet me, and whatever He shows me I will tell you." So he went to a desolate height
.

Previously in NUMBERS 22, we read:
NUMBERS 22:39-41
39 So Balaam went with Balak, and they came to Kirjath Huzoth [Mount Pisgah]. 40 Then Balak offered oxen and sheep, and he sent some to Balaam and to the princes who were with him. 41 So it was the next day, that Balak took Balaam and brought him up to the high places of Baal, that from there he might observe the extent of the people
.
We might wonder why king Balak is bringing Balaam to all of these different high places on these various mountains. What difference does it make where Balaam attempts to curse Israel – if it failed on one mountain top, why would it succeed on a different mountain top?
In many pagan religions, especially those of nature worship, it was believed that trees, rivers, mountains, and other forms found in nature contained spirits, even the spirits of gods; king Balak is bringing Balaam to these different mountain tops, hoping to employ the use of their spirits in overcoming Israel.

But just as GOD proved Himself supreme over all the gods of Egypt, He is faithful to prove Himself supreme over these, and all false gods.
In our modern society, so-called ‘gods’ or beliefs and really, “doctrines of demons” as the Bible calls them, are worshiped: evolution, of hedonism or sensual pleasure, money, new age occultism – yet our GOD reigns supreme. Such false gods (beliefs and Satan behind them) will fall one day when our LORD returns.

NUMBERS 23:4-7
4 And God met Balaam, and he said to
[GOD], "I have prepared the seven altars, and I have offered on each altar a bull and a ram." 5 Then the LORD put a word in Balaam's mouth, and said, "Return to Balak, and thus you shall speak." 6 So he returned to him, and there he was, standing by his burnt offering, he and all the princes of Moab. 7 And he took up his oracle and said: "Balak the king of Moab has brought me from Aram, From the mountains of the east. 'Come, curse Jacob for me, And come, denounce Israel!'

It's quite possible that Balaam mistook YHWH as a mere tribal god of the Hebrews, and so in addition to offering up these sacrifices to the many pagan gods of Canaan, that this sinful soothsayer might have included the GOD of Israel, seeking to honor both Him and the false gods by these sacrifices – but as we know, GOD will never share His glory with another! He will never share the affections from people for Him, plus other gods, or religions!
So much for ecumenism!

Nevertheless, the purpose of those sacrifices was so that Israel might be cursed – and the LORD already made it quite clear:

NUMBERS 22:12b
"… you shall not curse the people, for they are blessed
.

So Balaam speaks to king Balak:

NUMBERS 23:8-10
8 "How shall I curse whom God has not cursed? And how shall I denounce whom the LORD has not denounced? 9 For from the top of the rocks I see him, And from the hills I behold him [Israel]; There! A people dwelling alone, Not reckoning itself among the nations. 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!


Balaam is saying to the king that he can see the nation of Israel from the heights of the mountains that these two men climbed with the intent on cursing them. Remember from NUMBERS 1, when we saw how the camp of Israel was laid out, numbering all twelve tribes and where they were located in the camp that surrounded both the Tabernacle and the tribe of Levi – and it was in the shape of a cross!

What can Satan do to curse the people of GOD, the church of the LORD Jesus Christ?
We know that the antichrist will blaspheme the name of GOD, as well as those who dwell in heaven (REV 13:6) – those “in heaven”, I believe speaks of the church raptured to glory to be with the LORD Jesus Christ.
But that’s all he can do is badmouth the name of the Holy GOD and His people, which is bad enough – but as far as cursing the saints of the church or casting a spell or a hex – such things are useless against a Spirit-filled born again believer!

My niece’s husband was a missionary in the African nation of Senegal, and a witch doctor tried to place a curse on him – much to the shock and dismay of that witchdoctor, it didn’t work!
For a very brief time I was corresponding with a witch in Syracuse, my native town; she ended up throwing a hex at me, contained in an envelope she mailed to me – didn’t work. It actually backfired and came back on her, much to her ruin!

Is this to say that as Christians, we have nothing to fear from Satan? That he can’t attack us?
Obviously we are subject to attacks by the enemy; Job was (JOB 1,2), Peter also (LK 22:21), Paul as well (2 COR 12:7); the church collectively through persecution and martyrdom (REV 2:10), all orchestrated by Satan, but permitted by GOD.
If we never needed to be attacked by Satan, then the LORD wouldn’t have provided the spiritual armor. As a wise man once said, “the armor of GOD is not for decoration”!

Scripture warns us to be sober minded because our adversary the devil prowls about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 PET 5:8).

While he may attack, we need not fear Satan, because he was defeated at the cross; but even in defeat, he can still be subtly dangerous and wily, so we must be aware and cautious, ever vigilant.

Martin Luther once wrote in his hymn A Mighty Fortress Is Our GOD:

“For still our ancient foe, doth seek to work us woe.
His craft and power are great and armed with cruel hate.
On Earth is not his equal…
“And though this world with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us.
We will not fear for GOD hath willed,
His truth to triumph through us.
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him.
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure.
One little word [from the LORD Jesus!] shall fell him”

The only Christians that are vulnerable by the attacks of Satan are those who are not walking in the Spirit, who aren’t taking up the armor of GOD, particularly the sword of the Spirit and the shield of faith.
Those who are walking in the flesh are susceptible and may likely suffer damage by the devil. Also, for a time, GOD may allow Satan in and mess with us, but for GOD’s own purposes and with Divine restrictions – as we mentioned, such was the case with Job, Peter, and Paul.

Certainly any Christian dabbling in things that they ought not to – whether you’re talking about tarot cards, the newspaper horoscope, Ouija boards, or indulging in porn or demonic movies – these can open doorways that in turn can lead not only to demonic attacks, but demonic influences – particularly in these increasingly dark days.

For the LORD’s children, walking in the Spirit, closely with our Shepherd, we are safe, secure, and established and what Balaam said of Israel, others should say of us, the church:
“Let me die the death of the righteous, And let my end be like his!"

NUMBERS 23:11-13
11 Then
[king] Balak said to Balaam, "What have you done to me? I took you to curse my enemies, and look, you have blessed them bountifully!" 12 So he answered and said, "Must I not take heed to speak what the LORD has put in my mouth?" [I think Balaam is beginning to understand that this is no tribal god he’s dealing with, but the Almighty!] 13 Then Balak said to him, "Please come with me to another place from which you may see them; you shall see only the outer part of them and shall not see them all; curse them for me from there.

So, from the perspective of another pinnacle, Balak hopes that Balaam will secure for him the ruin of Israel through a wicked and sorcerous curse.
As much as these two men intended on bringing defeat to the nation of Israel, GOD in His Sovereignty has the last word – and He put that word into Balaam’s mouth. I’m sure this wicked man would say to GOD if he could, “Don’t put words in my mouth!” But GOD did, and Balaam had no choice but to bless bountifully Israel.

See how the LORD watches over His people, caring for them, protecting them? They probably weren’t even aware that any of this was going on! This makes me think about how many dangers that the LORD saved me from, that I was never even aware of!

If you’re a born again disciple of Christ, you really have no cause for worry. If you’ve made Jesus your LORD and Savior – then you’re under GOD’s management; the same One Who manages this entire universe, and still has time to hear and answer the prayers of multitudes of saints that cover this planet!

Your problems and concerns become His ‘problems and concerns’. He will be faithful to manage your life according to His wisdom and knowledge, His power and abilities, His plans, and purposes.
We’re not in good hands – we are in the best hands, the nail scarred hands of our beloved, tender hearted LORD Who is with us in blessings and burdens, happiness and heartache, triumphs, and tragedies.
ROMANS 8:28
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose
.
NUMBERS 23:14-20
14 So he brought him to the field of Zophim, to the top of Pisgah, and built seven altars, and offered a bull and a ram on each altar. 15 And he said to Balak, "Stand here by your burnt offering while I meet the LORD over there." 16 Then the LORD met Balaam, and put a word in his mouth, and said, "Go back to Balak, and thus you shall speak." 17 So he came to him, and there he was, standing by his burnt offering, and the princes of Moab were with him. And [king] Balak said to him, "What has the LORD spoken?" 18 Then he took up his oracle and said: "Rise up, Balak, and hear! Listen to me, son of Zippor! 19 "God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? 20 Behold, I have received a command to bless; He has blessed, and I cannot reverse it
.

Here we are witnessing a failing attack on Israel by the kingdom of darkness; no doubt all the powers of hell were ‘hellbent’ on seeing Israel destroyed. But GOD contests the enemy and puts him down!
Much later we see another contest on another mountain – Mt. Carmel with the prophet Elijah and 400 prophets of Baal, (I call this “Showdown at the OK Carmel”!) and likewise Satan would’ve loved to keep Israel in apostasy and spiritual ruin by worshiping the false gods of Ahab and Jezebel, but GOD through His prophet won that contest too, and the people declared, “The LORD He is the GOD”!

Vs. 19 God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?

GOD can’t lie – it’s impossible for the Person Who is Truth, to lie. GOD can’t learn (Omniscient), He can’t travel through time and space (Omnipresent), He can’t fail (Omnipotent). Imagine if a person that you know was always truthful – couldn’t lie – you could trust their word because you know it’s not false.

This is how trustworthy GOD is, why He exalts His Word even above His own Name (PS 138); why He is honored by those who will trust in Him. Job said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in him:” That’s unshakable faith!
The Psalmist declared: “In God is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, And my refuge, is in God. Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for usPSALM 62.

This is why we as Christians are realists and the ultimate optimists. An optimist will think the best of things without necessarily having any of the facts.
We have the truth of GOD’s Word, what our future holds according to the LORD’s promise: the reality of eternity prepared for us! So no matter how bad our lives may get, we have this Rock-solid, very real hope in Christ.

Vs. 20 Behold, I have received a command to bless; He has blessed, and I cannot reverse it.
No one can reverse the will of GOD, not the collective will of all humanity, not the entirety of evil represented in the kingdom of darkness – this is the essence of what the sovereignty of GOD is, as spoken of in these passages found in ISAIAH:
ISAIAH 43:10,13
10 "You are My witnesses," says the LORD, "And My servant whom I have chosen, That you may know and believe Me, And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, Nor shall there be after Me. 13 Indeed before the day was, I am He; And there is no one who can deliver out of My hand; I work, and who will reverse it?"

ISAIAH 55:11
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
NUMBERS 23:21-24
21 "He has not observed iniquity in Jacob, Nor has He seen wickedness in Israel. The LORD his God is with him, And the shout of a King is among them. 22 God brings them out of Egypt; He has strength like a wild ox. 23 "For there is no sorcery against Jacob, Nor any divination against Israel. It now must be said of Jacob and of Israel, 'Oh, what God has done!' 24 Look, a people rises like a lioness, And lifts itself up like a lion; It shall not lie down until it devours the prey And drinks the blood of the slain
.

This is the grace of GOD, that for all the ways in which Israel had already transgressed, and fallen into idolatry, sin, rebellion, and pride – still, our eternal GOD Who sees all, including the last and final state of His people Israel, He can declare in the now, what will be in the future (from our perspective) “no iniquity in Jacob, nor wickedness in Israel.”

This shout of the King Who is among them, is the Messiah, Y’shua – we know Him as Jesus Christ, and this particular victorious shout of the LORD will happen at the commencement of the Millennium:
PSALM 47:5-9
5 God has gone up with a shout, The LORD with the sound of a trumpet. 6 Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! 7 For God is the King of all the earth; Sing praises with understanding. 8 God reigns over the nations; God sits on His holy throne. 9 The princes of the people have gathered together, The people of the God of Abraham…
A king once asked his court attendants for evidence that GOD exists; a bishop stood forward and said one word: “Israel”.
No other nation has been so severely persecuted, with objectives by various empires and Gentile nations to see her destroyed, and yet she has persisted, even though the Jews were dispersed from their land twice and the second time, she was deserted for over 1800 years – and brought back in 1948, an unprecedented event that’s never happened before or since.
For a modern nation that’s been in existence for barely seventy five years, she has one of the finest military in the world, and their Air Force is second to none!

“'Oh, what God has done!' Look, a people rises like a lioness, And lifts itself up like a lion; It shall not lie down until it devours the prey and drinks the blood of the slain.”

NUMBERS 23:25-30
25 Then Balak said to Balaam, "Neither curse them at all, nor bless them at all!" 26 So Balaam answered and said to Balak, "Did I not tell you, saying, 'All that the LORD speaks, that I must do'?" 27 Then Balak said to Balaam, "Please come, I will take you to another place; perhaps it will please God that you may curse them for me from there." 28 So Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor, that overlooks the wasteland. 29 Then Balaam said to Balak, "Build for me here seven altars, and prepare for me here seven bulls and seven rams." 30 And Balak did as Balaam had said and offered a bull and a ram on every altar
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