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The Unexpected

Read Numbers 23:27–24:25

King Balak flew into a rage against Balaam. He angrily clapped his hands and shouted, “I called you to curse my enemies! Instead, you have blessed them three times. Now get out of here! Go back home! I promised to reward you richly, but the Lord has kept you from your reward.”

Balaam told Balak, “Don’t you remember what I told your messengers? I said, ‘Even if Balak were to give me his palace filled with silver and gold, I would be powerless to do anything against the will of the Lord.’ I told you that I could say only what the Lord says! Now I am returning to my own people. But first let me tell you what the Israelites will do to your people in the future.”

This is the message Balaam delivered: “This is the message of Balaam son of Beor, the message of the man whose eyes see clearly, the message of one who hears the words of God, who has knowledge from the Most High, who sees a vision from the Almighty, who bows down with eyes wide open:

“I see him, but not here and now. I perceive him, but far in the distant future. A star will rise from Jacob; a scepter will emerge from Israel. It will crush the foreheads of Moab’s people, cracking the skulls of the people of Sheth.

“Edom will be taken over, and Seir, its enemy, will be conquered, while Israel marches on in triumph.

“A ruler will rise in Jacob who will destroy the survivors of Ir.”
(Numbers 24:10-19)


The star out of Jacob is often thought to refer to the coming Messiah. This is possibly the prophecy that convinced the Magi to travel to Israel to search for the baby Jesus (see Matthew 2:1-2). For God to use a sorcerer like Balaam to foretell the coming of the Messiah is strange, but this shows that God can use anything or anyone to accomplish his plans. By using a sorcerer, God did not make sorcery acceptable; in fact, the Bible condemns it in several places (Exodus 22:18; 2 Chronicles 33:6; Revelation 18:23). Rather, God shows his ultimate sovereignty over good and evil.

Although Balaam had greedy motives, he acted with integrity in blessing Israel. God’s message had so filled him that Balaam spoke the truth. In so doing, he forfeited the reward that had lured him to speak in the first place.


Staying true to God’s Word may cost us promotions and advantages in the short term, but those who choose God over money will one day acquire heavenly wealth beyond measure (Matthew 6:19-21). What has staying true to God’s Word cost you? Ask God to give you the strength to remain faithful, regardless of the cost.

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