Israel is again centre of His wheel.. visible evidence of the patient perseverance and ability of those skillful hands of the Lord. Israel is the first visible evidence of a new phase of the divine programme, the age of an emerging and gradually developing kingdom of God.
The various points of comparison with the previous thousand-year age of gradual development of the shadowy typical kingdom are of great interest. They help us to understand the apparently drawn-out nature of the sequence of events in our day. The interval between the ending of the Gentile Times (1914) and the infiltration of the land by the Jew (1945), and the appearance of the sovereign State of Israel. It is all there in that shadowy previous kingdom age, even to the tragic deaths of so many Jews at the very threshold of deliverance, under Hitler. Between 24000 and 25000 died there in the wilderness at that similar time just before entry of the Land of Promise. This was the result of a particular testing time for the Jew in both ages, and the nature of the test is also revealing. Marriage with the daughters of Moab, marriage with this world, leading to indifference towards the pursuit of the divine purpose. The same test applied in the last days of the first wilderness march and again in this our time prior to 1945. There is, of course, a lesson here too for the church. The breaking of covenant vows that separate us to the Lord, like the cutting of Sampson's hair, lead to our spiritual loss and demise. But we are centring our focus on Israel, and it was in those days parallel to the attempts of Hitler and others to wipe out the Jew that Balak, king of Moab, sort to do exactly the same thing in his own day. The sight of that great army appearing out of the wilderness brought fear to his heart. He felt his time was up if he did not do everything within his power to eliminate this threat, to exterminate the people of the God of Israel. It requires little imagination to recognise the fear of the god of this world at the coming of Christ on 1874. Why so much hatred centred in the Jew? We know why! The time has come for the kingdoms of this world to be overthrown, for Israel to be restored, and for the Lord to achieve in her His wondrous purpose as the earthly representatives of His kingdom of righteousness and light.
Now we know that nothing will thwart that purpose, but Satan has an arrogant blind-spot on such matters. Drunk with power, he, like Pharoah of old, and like the king of Moab, attempts the impossible. Why? Romans 9:17, "Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show My power in thee, and that My Name might be declared throughout all the earth." We have noted that 31 years after the seven times from Adam's fall ran out in Moses's day the Israelites ended their wandering and began to pour into the land of Canaan. Exactly parallel was the period of 31 years from the ending of the Gentile Times in 1914 which saw the ending of the wandering Jew in 1945 and the pouring of the Jews into their land. Within a similar brief period to that of Joshua a tangible kingdom of Israel was to be seen in that land. Let us just glance back that 40 years leading up to 1945 and note the remarkable points of comparison with those former times of Moses in modern Jewish history.
It is interesting to note first, however, that the precise point of time those seven times ran out in the days of Moses completed a jubilee cycle of 49 years from the first advent of Moses when he left his exalted and high abode to visit and to become identified with his people, then slaves in Egypt. As Stephen later explained (Acts 7:25,)"He supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not." (vse 27) but "thrust him away, saying Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us?" Moses there came under the death sentence and went away, to return, in God's due time for the people's deliverance by his hand. We cannot help but see a graphic depiction of that wondrous link between the rejection and death of Our Lord Jesus when He came to His own and His own received Him not, and His return at God's due time, not again to die a sacrifice for sin, but to deliver.
What we see taking place concerning Israel is part of the restoration process promised by all the prophets to which Peter referred in Acts 3:21. These are the days of Jubilee, the freeing of a captive people from a Gentile yoke of bondage, like Jacob from Laban, first stage in a process that will achieve salvation both for them and for all mankind from the real enemy of sin itself. The two events are wondrously linked.. the rejection and the death of Christ, and the events now in these our days of His return to set up His kingdom. This link is shown too in that 49 years Jubilee cycle link between those two events in the days of Moses.
Now 40 years before 1945 would correspond to the time the people were led forth from Egypt accompanied by various incidents and situations. That would be 1905. Let us remember that the hope of deliverance was already high in many Hebrew minds in Egypt in those days of the second advent of Moses. This was very true in the period before 1905. Up to then the concept of a Jewish state was dreamlike. In his book, "The Jewish State", Theodore Hertzl, a Jewish lawyer, who had become deeply affected by the "death to the Jews" cry he had heard from the crowds in Paris, left the Jews with a vision in his words.. "The Jews who wish it will have their own state. We shall live at last as free men on our own soil, die peacefully in our own homes. The world will be freed by our liberty, enriched by our wealth, magnified by our greatness." It was a beautiful dream.
Hertzl died in 1904. "With his death, the first stage of the Jewish revolution ended and the second stage began." So writes the historian of that time. 1905 saw the beginning of a new stage in the process leading up to the State of Israel. The concept had been formulated, now the ideas began to germinate into motivation! The Jews who shared this hope were on the move. In the days of Moses the Jews moved in mass, their faces towards Zion. From 1905, what was know as the Zionist revolution took practical steps towards realisation of their vision. Ben Gurion, in 1906, arrived in Palestine as a farm-worker, like those spies of the land of Moses' day. He was not there just to grow oranges. He came away with much practical knowledge of what lay before them. Chaim Weizmann was appointed lecturer of biological chemistry in England, later to become director of the British Admiralty Chemical laboratories. The first president of Israel and its first prime-minister were being prepared for their future role. And they were not alone. Others were now actively planning the practicalities of finance, and the fighting power for their future land.
45 years later Weizmann was to recall those days.. "Zionism (he said) was at the crossroads.. I had to take a decisive step.. A new start had to be made." He spoke of the first chapter of Zionism closing at the point of Herzl's death, 1904, and 1905 a new chapter beginning. Certainly it was so in the days of Moses. The time for dreams of the promised land were now demanding action and commitment. The dream became a live movement. In both cases this was to mark the beginning of 40 arduous years before that dream would begin to be realised.
But the thousands of Jews following Moses out of Egypt were by no means ready for claiming the promises of God. It was at the people's instigation that the Lord agreed to them sending spies to spy the land. The result we know well. The Jews lacked faith. They were daunted by the giant obstacle in the way. Many were faint-hearted and ready to go back into Egypt. Then, when they were shamed for their lack of trust in God they decided to go up after all, and when the Lord said He would not now go with them, then they decided to go it alone.. to achieve themselves by human strategy what they had felt beyond divine power to do for them. How like dear Jacob of old!
At the parallel time to this in the years from 1905 a somewhat similar situation was developing. The new-found energy and determination was in contrast to the attitudes of a small number of ultra-orthodox Jews to whom the notion of a Jewish state was little short of blasphemous. For them, the Jews could return home and establish a Jewish state only when Messiah comes. They failed, of course, to recognise their Messiah in their midst, fulfilling His great task of deliverance just as did the people of Moses' day. The authority and power, even the identity of the deliverer sent of God was frequently questioned,, and this not only by individuals, such as Korah, and even Miriam, his own flesh, but also by all the people. They murmured against Moses, and in doing so, against the Lord Who had sent him.
Of our own times Dimont wrote of the godless Jew.. "that dared to shift the mission of leading a return to Palestine from the shoulders of the Messiah to the shoulders of the Jews themselves." The Hasids and Talmudists at first opposed any such move. They opposed Zionism. Dimont continues.. "they cursed it, vilified it, spat on it, but in the end joined it." However, those Jews we know of today, who are deeply puzzled by what is taking place, what is happening even now around them, the things they know to be the works of Messiah, though they recognise not the One Who stands amongst them, give interesting witness by their very perplexity to the presence of the Lord. The people murmured against their deliverer saying, (Numbers 14:2) "Would God we had died in this wilderness." And verse 28, "As truly as I live, said the Lord, as ye have spoken in Mine ears so will I do to you."
A whole generation would pass and fall before the land was taken. Verses 33,34.. "And your children shall wander in the wilderness 40 years.. after the days in which ye searched the land, even 40 days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even 40 years." There follow most striking words which have caused no small concern amongst expositors.. "and ye shall know my breach of promise." Had God changed His purpose? Would He break a promise? Attention is drawn in such words to the conditional basis of the covenant God had entered with Israel, and which they now had broken. They were to taste the consequences of rejection of God's enabling power. As the NIV reads.. "you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have Me against you." The Syriac version of Lamsa reads.. "Then you shall know that it is because you have murmured against Me."
It is interesting to look back over the 40 years preceding 1945 and ask, what parallel situation we have found concerning the Jews in their quest for the independent State of Israel? Was the 40 years of very mixed "wilderness" experience again related to their unreadiness of heart at the time of their visitation? Without recognising that they live in the days of Messiah's presence, the Jews, nevertheless, decided to do it themselves, and to face the enemy without the help of divine presence and favour. Nevertheless, the Lord had mercy in the days of Moses and still achieved His purpose in terms of the typical kingdom of Israel. And we in our day see the same evidence of divine mercy, notwithstanding the unbelief in which they return, and their pride in self-achievement.
Are we beginning to glimpse some meaning in the very difficult circumstances and frequent failure of this wayward tribe in our own days leading up to and beyond the 1945 turning point in their history? Why the holocaust? Why so much Jewish blood to spill before the land was entered? Perhaps the visible parallel with the days of Moses help us to glimpse something of the underlying significance of the event of so many Jewish deaths at the very threshold of their entry to claim the land. Certainly Joshua did not give them that promised rest, and we must confess that the people of Israel still are far from entering into rest. It will not be brought about by war-plane or fiendish modern weaponry. And if it depends upon Israel's continual vigilance of her great spy net-work, then "rest" it is not!
Now this background, both in the days of Moses and the 40 years wilderness wandering, and in the parallel times up to 1945, serves to bring home the wonder of the words of Balaam's unwilling blessing upon the Jewish race. The Balaam episode came at the end of those years, but prior to their entry into the land. The strength and intensity of anti-semitism had reached a critical stage. The Jew was seen as a threat, and this provoked such hatred as wished their extermination as a race. The weapon to be used to this end was the curse of Balaam. He was the heathen prophet of such unquestioned prestige that it was believed that nothing could resist the effect of a curse laid by him. It would be a death sentence that could not be revoked.
The political aims of Hitler in the parallel period closing these 40 years were, like Balaam, to destroy the Jews, to wipe them our as a race, and at the same time to make gain for himself. The Jews were by no means the only victims, of course. As many million "Christians" were to die under Hitler as well as Jews. But "whereas the Germans exterminated Pole, Russian, Ukranian and other Slavs for their presumed intellectual inferiority, they killed the Jews for their intellectual superiority." So writes the historian of our day. We see reflected there not only human fear, but that of the god of this world.
It would seem that this again was the hour of Satan, and the power of darkness. And yet it was the shock of this very same nightmare experience and its effect upon the nations of earth that paved the way for the birth of the nation and their re-entry to the land of Palestine, to be established forevermore as the State of Israel. The very would-be curse turned to blessing. The spasm of greatest travail brought forth in one day what all human effort had failed to achieve before.. the birth of a nation.
And so, with such a stirring background in mind, both of the encounter of Moses with Balaam, and with the more recent encounter of the Jews with Hitler and fascism, that ruthless power beyond the ability of its victims to defeat, let us look more carefully at the way the Lord causes human wrath to praise Him, makes the curse of the satanic spirit in man to turn to blessing, the triumph of divine purpose, notwithstanding the threat of every evil force. Let us look at the prophetic utterances of Balaam, and view them in the light of our times.
It is not without interest that the name "Moab" contains the word, "father", as well as implying "progeny" or "race", thus crudely portraying the self-proclaimed "father race" of our time. The name Balak, king of Moab, means "wasting, destroying," and not only characterises the ruthless mind of Hitler, but behind him the Satanic spirit of enmity with the seed of divine promise, both the natural seed and the spiritual. But the purpose of these evil powers being raised up is to declare throughout the earth the power and Name of God, the Name of a faithful and everlasting love. This day is this word being once more fulfilled, and we, sheltering in the Rock of Ages, have the inestimable privilege of a blessed preview of what Israel and the world of mankind are yet to behold, the result of which will be that the knowledge of His glory will fill this earth as the waters cover the great deep.
To the meaning of the name Moab, "father race", we may add that of Midian, also involved, meaning "strife, contention," while the name Balaam means "treader down of the people." Those jack-boots of the German armies so aptly represent this attitude of Satan to all who would oppose his evil ways. The word Balaam has an equivalent in the Greek, "Nikolaos", and from this word we get the reference to the Nicolaitans in Revelation 2:6 & 15, the latter verse following an allusion to the sin of Balaam. Spiritual Israel has already felt the power of such an enemy that in these last days plays so fierce a role in Israel's experience. All these names speak of the release of Satanic hatred against the people of God. Yet the Satanic purpose to devour and destroy that seed is thwarted by the power of God, though not without cost to that seed. This was true of Jesus. It was true of the church, and again of Israel, each in turn to know the fury of the powers of darkness. In this last phase concerning Israel, as with the others, whatever evil powers the Adversary uses, the end turns out far from Satan's design, but in total alignment with the purpose of God.
Balaam utters four prophecies concerning Israel. In these he describes their separation, their justification, their sanctification, and their exaltation. The Spirit of God prompts Balaam's words, and in Numbers 23:7, 18 & 24:3, 15, 20, 21, & 23, the word "parable" is used in our AV. The Hebrew word "mashal" (4912) has often the sense of an extended parable, something which becomes proverbial. It is the same word translated in Deut. 28:37 and Psalm 44:14, etc, as "byword", and is spoken of Israel made a byword among the nations. In the Theological Wordbook of the O.T. we read on this word.. "Much more is involved than simply scorn or derision. The point is that God has made Israel a public example, an object lesson for others to observe and learn from." He did the same of Job (17:6).. "He hath made me also a byword of the people, and aforetime I was a tabret (a drum)" to the sound and warning of which the people gave heed. In His work in Israel today God is calling the earth. Sooner or later men will hear, and recognise herein the voice and Name of a mighty God, able and willing to fulfil His Word, regardless of the utter unworthiness of the clay, and every power of Satan that has opposed.
Before Balaam's pronouncement there was a great holocaust. Not one fire, but sevenfold the flames that consume the sacrifices on seven altars. This holocaust continues throughout the subsequent prophetic statements making a remarkable background to these words. Three different sites were chosen in order to survey more of the extent of the great Israelite throng below. These sites were high-places linked with pagan worship. In 1896, Geikie, in his series, "Hours with the Bible", describes the work of Condor in visiting these sites and discovering there still seven ancient stone monuments at one site, and circles in each place with central cubical stone, all speaking of the idolatrous worship of ancient time. From each height a different view was gained of the teeming thousands of Israel in the valleys below, camped and waiting for the moment of entry into the land. What follows is to demonstrate that all the material gods of earthly might and power worshipped by man can in no way influence the outworking of the Divine Purpose.
In the first parable, recorded in Numbers 23:7 to 10, we have the first great prophetic utterance since the promise to the fathers, and that promise is repeated now.
7 And he took up his parable, and 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.
8 How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed? or how shall I defy, whom the LORD hath not defied?
9 For from the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him: lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations.
10 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!
How shall I curse, and God hath not cursed? God had said to him.. "Thou shalt not curse this people, for they are blessed." What was first told in private must now be made plainly public. "If God be for.. who can be against?" "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn." Those who think that God, having broken off the branches, has cursed Israel forever, will have much to open their eyes in the days before us. "I shall not cast them away."
From his vantage point high up, Balaam now sees Israel as a nation outstanding from all nations. It is one on its own. This is because God has made it so. When Moses spoke in Exodus 33:16, "so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth.", he was speaking of a nation walking in the presence of God. Even when the visible tokens of His presence were removed and the glory rose up and departed from the Temple, the eyes of the Lord were still upon them. During its long period of adversity and treading-down, though scattered far among the nations, the Jew retained his identity, just as during the two centuries of Israel in Egypt. This is surely one of the miracles of time, and wondrous attestation to the certainty of the Word of God. Not only so, but Israel is uniquely chosen for the manifestation before all mankind of the manifold wisdom and grace of God.
Next to their separateness the prophet notes their increase.. "Who hath counted the dust of Jacob?" What a sight it must have been, those two men standing beside their smoking altar, wishing Israel's doom. The smoke that rose from the incinerators of the gas chambers produced its sickening stench, but could not obscure the future of that race. The plotters look before them at the vast multitude, tent after tent, gathered there below. Yet these were only a part, a quarter of the whole. Gen 28:14 "And thy seed (Jacob) shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." The generations of that race today are yet to be joined by those future hosts of resurrected Israelites spoken of in Dan 12:2.
When Balaam prays that his death be as theirs, he is speaking not so much of his death, we feel, but of that glorious end or goal which lies before Israel.. something to be greatly esteemed and prized. Balaam would have wished to meet the end of this present life with such a resurrection prospect as that of the Jew. How such men as Hitler would have loved to be in the position decreed of God for His people!
All this took place from the heights of Baal worship. Baal, means Lord, and the whole world has lain under the lordship and dominion of Satan and sin, cruel taskmaster of the human race. From this time that marks the ultimate of human degradation, the outcome of sin's sad course, the vision is granted of a people resting under every divine blessing. How vexed would Hitler be to see the outcome of his wicked plan for the Jew.. the pricking of the world's conscience that paved the way for the emergence of the nation of Israel, like the Phoenix from the flames, as something rising from the grave. What of Satan's response too? Num 23:11, 'And Balak said unto Balaam, What hast thou done unto me? I took thee to curse mine enemies, and, behold, thou hast blessed them altogether.' Was it that he had not sufficiently impressed the powers that be as to the potential danger to them of these developments of Israel's prosperity?
So the man that fearful king was trying to use to bring about the destruction of the Jew was hurried to another situation.. verse 14, "the top of Pisgah." The holocaust continues with its seven-fold heat. The sacrifices, in these our days, were Jews. This was Satan's ironic offering to God of a people consumed in his hatred, as if to taunt the Lord.
Num 23:18 And he took up his parable, and said, Rise up, Balak, and hear; hearken unto me, thou son of Zippor:
19 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?
20 Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and he hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it.
21 He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the LORD his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them.
22 God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn.
23 Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel: according to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought!
24 Behold, the people shall rise up as a great lion, and lift up himself as a young lion: he shall not lie down until he eat of the prey, and drink the blood of the slain.
Balak was determined to use every situation to his evil ends. But the Word of God stands and cannot be changed, for God is not man. Every word He utters is a word of total TRUTH. His every command becomes incontrovertible law. The Lord does not change His mind or go back on His purpose.
Zechariah 3, speaks of this very same hour in Israel's end-of-age experiences, as pre-figured in the days subsequent to the coming of Cyrus. Her deliverer had come, yet still her state seemed so incongruous with her hopes, and Satan stood there ready to resist and accuse, to discourage and destroy.. pointing to the filthy garments on Joshua the high priest, Israel's representative.
The word of the Lord cuts through that of the Adversary. With awful command He says, through then prophet, "Balak, stand up and listen!" All powers of earth, all kings and great ones, principalities and powers, will yet rise up and close their mouths at Him Who stands at Israel's side today. "The gifts and calling of God are without repentance." Sadly, many Christians are amongst those needing such salutary reminders of Paul's words.
To think that Israel have fallen so far, have been in need of such discipline under the mighty hand of God, have proved so unworthy of such great love, and yet He loves them still. Jer 31:3, "Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee." Hosea 2:19 "And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. (20) I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD."
What wonderful words now follow. How can they possibly be understood? Num 23:21 "He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel:" Do we see here the tender forgiving love of a father pitying his child, knowing that he is but dust, not dealing with him according to his iniquities, but putting them from him as far as the east is from the west?
Jer 31:37 "Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD." Zech 3:4 "..Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment."
The language of the Lord's love is so touching to our hearts, as so beautifully expressed in the last three verses of Micah 7:18 "Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth over the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in lovingkindness. (19) He will again have compassion upon us; he will tread our iniquities under foot; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. (20) Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, (and) the lovingkindness to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old." (ASV) We are looking ahead with the eyes of God towards that New Covenant blessing.. "I will remember their sin no more."
Then come the words we have chosen for our theme text. "the LORD his God is with him, and THE SHOUT OF A KING is among them."
Did Balaam's prophetic eye pierce that cloudy pillar resting in their midst? Could he see down the stream of time this day of all days of which the Spirit in him spoke, that angel of His presence which is Christ, standing in their midst today, though they know Him not?
HE is the great and wonderful CAUSE of all that is happening to Israel today.. He, the great and mighty arm of the LORD. "The shout of a king is in their midst." As often happens, the Hebrew here is delightful for its variety of meaningful thought. The word for "shout" (Strong 8643, Harris 2135b) carries the meaning of sound or signal. It is used to mean the sound of trumpet, that is the silver trumpets or the curved horn shofar. In Leviticus 25:9, it is translated "jubilee.." Elsewhere it is translated "alarm", and most frequently a jubilant and triumph-ant shout. Here the shout of the King in the midst of His people Israel is a beautiful reminder to us of the shout of triumph with which our Lord descended from heaven at His return. This is the trumpet signal the Lord's people now hear and recognise, and indeed, the same word is used in Psalm 89:15, "Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound.." They recognise the triumphant shout of their King. It is the time of gathering of the church to Himself, gathering too of Israel, first to her land, then to her Lord.. the Saviour out of Zion, Who will turn away iniquity from His people.
Here He stands up as Michael, God's representative or arm, standing up for the children of Daniel's people in the midst of the ensuing trouble that marks the winding up of Gentile Times. It is His shout of triumph in the face of certain victory that thrills the hearts of God's people today, as He rides forth prosperously in glory and in majesty on behalf of truth, meekness, and righteousness. (Psalm 45:3 & 4.)
At this very special moment of God's plan of the ages only the Lord's spiritual people are blessed with recognition of the meaning of the trumpet-like signal of their King's royal presence. We long for the moment of truth for Israel, when the shout of the king will become echoed by a jubilant shout of every heart FOR their King. Like the brethren of Joseph, they already receive blessing at His hand without realising who He is, though with those blessings, strange and trying experiences that will yet produce that essential change of heart to one of unselfish protective and sacrificial love, and deep respect for the things that please their Father. All of this is aptly illustrated in Joseph's work within his brethren while they still knew him not. What a wonderful demonstration of divine mercy and skill is taking place, centre of the Potter's wheel, before the eyes of angels and men! Are you watching world? You will behold and marvel.. for in Israel is a great and wonderful example that will become the byword for every child of Adam.
The prophet continues to utter what the Spirit dictates. The God Who brought them thus far, Who brought them out of Egypt, the God Who has brought Israel today so far along the road towards Zion, is stronger than all. There is no power that can resist His Will. "In its time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, "What hath God wrought?" It is His mighty power invested in His Son and through Him in His people, that guarantees their victory be it spiritual or natural seed.
Remember that these are wards of assurance and vision before Israel ever entered to take their land. They are uttered at a time when, in antitype, Israel's hopes would seem to have very little ground. At the approach of the last war British and Arab resistance hardened to bring down Jewish immigration to the merest trickle, and with a total end in view. The door was closed and barred. How wonderful that at such a time such hope was given in these words of God's Spirit through Balaam. But in the midst of Hitler's attempts to destroy it required faith to perceive such a wonderful outcome to their veil of tears. This faith they lacked. That was why they were there under Hitler's domain.
The worst thing that could happen to a Jew would be to become a Gentile. That means, to become married to the people of this world, in attitude, spirit, hopes, and goal.. losing the vision.. "next year in Jerusalem.." The same applies to the spiritual seed. This was to be the most crucial test for Israel in the desert, and again for Israel in recent times. What Balaam could not achieve by direct opposition he would attempt by alluring them away from their hope. The daughters of Moab, the attractions of this world, and the worship of its gods, what a test this would prove in both parallel periods! In this way thousands would die without reaching the land.
Sadly, this seemed to be true of many Jews in Europe.. Jews who had lost their way, regarding themselves as true citizens of whichever nation they adopted rather than a separated people unto God. The Gentilised Jew, known as "reform Jews", have a history dating back to the days of the Babylonian empire, followed by that of Persia. It is too large an issue to discuss here, but again at the end of the age, just as in Ezra's day, there were to be those who clung to this world, and who needed such experiences as would cause them to stand up to be counted among the people of God.
The reform Jews strongly resisted and resented the Zionist movement. They were happy in Babylon, at home in Egypt, very comfortable thank you in the U.S.A. or wherever. There are 300,000 Jews in the United Kingdom today. The Jewish people were divided into three parts. One part were to pass through fire, to die in Europe. Another part would find its way to Zion, and the last part would remain scattered in the world. The British Government viewed the Balfour declaration as a means of winning over the American Jewish public opinion. They needed allies to influence the U.S.A. to enter the war on the side of Britain. But they badly misjudged the position. Many influential Jews in America, as in Europe, were opposed to Zionism. They feared that the concept of a Jewish homeland would threaten their position in the world.
It was against this background situation that we find Balaam now viewing the children of Israel from the top of Peor, which was again a site of Baal worship. Peor means "opening". The Adversary is indeed expert at looking for any opening, any way to attempt to thwart the purpose of God. It was the matter of Baal Peor, an opening for the Adversary, that formed the last crucial test for Israel in her wilderness days, and many thousands were to fall.. in that day 24,000, but in total 600,000 died in the whole wilderness journey without entering the land. The 6000,000 who died in Europe under Hitler bear a remarkable resemblance to this figure. But here it was that, at the instigation of the frustrated Balak, Balaam once more fell under the power of God's Spirit and failed again to effect the curse Balak so desperately sought to invoke upon the Jew.
3 And he took up his parable, and said, Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open hath said:
4 He hath said, which heard the words of God, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open:
5 How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel!
6 As the valleys are they spread forth, as gardens by the river's side, as the trees of lign aloes which the LORD hath planted, and as cedar trees beside the waters.
7 He shall pour the water out of his buckets, and his seed shall be in many waters, and his king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted.
8 God brought him forth out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn: he shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with his arrows.
9 He couched, he lay down as a lion, and as a great lion: who shall stir him up? Blessed is he that blesseth thee, and cursed is he that curseth thee.
Rather than curse he now proclaims instead the total victory of this nation of destiny, and the supreme power of its glorious King. Perhaps in those opening lines Balaam had in mind the time when even his ass could see more than he could of the things of the Lord. Now his eyes were opened too, and the vision was glorious. As valleys verdent, fruitful and and widely extending; luxuriant gardens on the banks of a river of living waters; and his people would be as aromatic trees diffusing fragrance as the plantation of God on the river banks. Goodly tents, beautiful tabernacles spread forth as valley, waters of life abundant, every vessel or bucket overflowing with abundant life for all his seed. The Jews still chant these very words each feast day.. "How goodly are thy tents O Jacob, thy tabernacles O Israel."
In two lines Balaam then speaks of the King and His kingdom, a king higher than Agag. Agag could well have been the name or title of a whole succession of kings of Amalek, or this could be a reference, like that of Isaiah to Cyrus, of prophetic anticipation of that named king to one day be spared by Saul but slain by Samuel. Agag, king of the Amelekites.. This tribe so epitomised the great invincible enemy of "doubt", that which, as the name implies, robs the strength of those whose faith grows weak. Agag's name means "to blaze as a fire", and this is indeed the effect of doubt once it takes hold. We must not, like Saul, at the end of battle give place to doubt. It is a ruthless enemy of the soul and must be ruthlessly dealt with. Here is a King greater than all our fears and all our doubts, a King of Love, Faithful and True, Who will defeat this cruel enemy, and forever destroy this close-girding sin.
Under His domain the people, once hesitant, become willing, and are brought to the state of perfect trust and trustworthiness. It is with this very context that Isaiah 26:1-4 speaks..
1 In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city;
salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks.
2 Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in.
3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
4 Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength: (a Rock of Ages.)
Here is the rest Israel will at last enter.
Again Balaam refers (verse 8) to the mighty power of God that brought them out of Egypt. Jeremiah gives us the up-date on "Egypt" in Jer 16:14-15
14 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be said, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt;
15 But, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers.
The God Who can bring them out can also bring them in. Leaving Egypt was but a stage. The conquering of every obstacle, and the overcoming of every enemy of human happiness lies ahead, all within the power with which He endues His people. The "unicorn" of verse 8 is probably the "rhino", and the strength of a rhino in its charge is here used to depict the unchallengeable and unstoppable course of this victorious King. He pierces His enemies through with His arrows.. Truths that go right home to the heart of the King's enemies.. the realities of disarming love that will capture the heart, dismissing all enmity, and bringing every thought into the obedience of Christ. He is Lion of the tribe of Judah, glorious in majesty. He Who is willing to die for His people as a little lamb on the altar of sacrifice, was raised to triumph over every foe.. as lion, undisputed King over the whole creation.
"Blessed is he that blesseth thee.." the subjects of so great a King, "and cursed is he that curseth thee." (Verse 9) Do we see Balak wincing at those dreadful words? If his face grows pale it is with very rage. The Adversary does not enjoy his frustration. He does not enjoy having to flee before the superior armoury of faith and light of the Lord's people. Balak is now jumping up and down in fury and frustration. He had sought a mouthpiece for his wrath upon the seed, an instrument he could use to destroy them. Instead a blessing results beyond all dreams. He wants it all to stop right there. "Go away!", he screams. "Go home!" But Balaam has one more message to deliver. The Spirit of God respects no human dictator. It speaks the knowledge of the Most High Who sees the end from the beginning.
15 And he took up his parable, and said, Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open hath said:
16 He hath said, which heard the words of God, and knew the knowledge of the most High, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open:
17 I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.
18 And Edom shall be a possession, Seir also shall be a possession for his enemies; and Israel shall do valiantly.
19 Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion, and shall destroy him that remaineth of the city.
20 And when he looked on Amalek, he took up his parable, and said, Amalek was the first of the nations; but his latter end shall be that he perish for ever.
21 And he looked on the Kenites, and took up his parable, and said, Strong is thy dwellingplace, and thou puttest thy nest in a rock.
22 Nevertheless the Kenite shall be wasted, until Asshur shall carry thee away captive.
23 And he took up his parable, and said, Alas, who shall live when God doeth this!
24 And ships shall come from the coast of Chittim, and shall afflict Asshur, and shall afflict Eber, and he also shall perish for ever.
"Star out of Jacob.. a sceptre risen out of Israel.." What glories of majesty will yet appear before the wondering eyes of all mankind. Star of Hope, and sceptre of righteousness, a perfect rule able to put everything right that is wrong in this earth. Human arrogance and pride, what enemies these have been to human happiness. The mighty men of Moab. We see their portraits hanging in the corridors of time. The Nimrods, Caesars, Napolians, Hitlers of our day..
But something of this spirit of Satan lurks in every heart that is yet untouched by the Lord's Spirit, and from every heart it will be destroyed with all other enemies of the soul. Edom, that old Adam in man that ever resists the things and ways of God, this too will come under the accepted Lordship of the King of kings when all are gathered under the headship of Christ. It is difficult for us to imagine a world in which these elements of the human nature are removed, where no-one will say to his neighbour, "Do you know the Lord?" They will not need to for all will know Him from the least to the greatest. Everyone will be in the Truth! The going down and weakening of these enemies will concur with the growth and strengthening of His people.. "Israel shall do valiantly.. Israel shall grow in strength.
Is Amalek standing outside the gates of the City forbidding entrance, as doubt always does, to all the riches of that dwellingplace of God? As verse 20 shows, "Amalek was first of the nations.." Skepticism concerning the things of the Lord has been a most notable feature of all peoples of earth. Like a thick veil it has lain over all nations lest the light of the knowledge of divine glory should shine in. "But its latter end shall be that it perish forever." What wonderful words!
The Kenites lived mainly in the rocky heights beyond the reach of others. The name means "a nest". (verse 21) "Strong is thy dwellingplace, and thou puttest thy nest in a rock." How impregnable seems the place of those inner thoughts of the mind. No one knows, no one can reach to explore those innermost recesses. How true it is that while we may not be able to prevent birds flying over our heads we can stop them building a nest in our hair. How wonderful when the King of Righteousness and Prince of Peace brings into subjection every thought, and sees the satisfaction of His desire.. "Truth in the inward parts." No evil thought will make its nest in the mind.
No unkind attitude, no bitter resentment, no unworthy feeling will attempt to cohabit when the Lord's throne is found in every heart. For He must reign until all enemies are subdued. Verse 23 "And he took up his parable, and said, Alas, who shall live when God doeth this!" He speaks of the Kenites, the enemies, all enemies, of the human mind, whose days are now numbered, as the progress of this little Sovereign State in the midst of the nations today now declares.
Hitler's obsession with Jews was publicly expressed in a speech at the Sportpalast. "I do not want to even speak of Jews," he said, "They are simply our old enemies.. We realise that this war can only end either in the wiping out of the Germanic nations, or by the disappearance of the Jews from Europe." He reminded his audience.. of his 1939 prophecy that the Jews would be destroyed. Only later did Goebbels himself learn the exact meaning of Final Solution. Then Hitler told him flatly that Europe must be cleansed of Jews, if necessary by applying the most brutal methods." The Fuhrer was so explicit that Goebbels could now write in his diary; "A judgment is being visited upon the Jews that, while barbaric, is fully deserved... One must not be sentimental in these matters. If we did not fight the Jew they would destroy us. It's a life-and-death struggle between the Aryan race and the Jewish bacillus. No other government and no other regime would have the strength for such a global solution of this question."