Numbers 23* Balak's sacrifice, Balaam pronounces a blessing instead of acurse. (1-10) Balak's disappointment, and second sacrifice,Balaam again blesses Israel. (11-30)1-10 With the camps of Israel full in view, Balaam orderedseven altars to be built, and a bullock and a ram to be offeredon each. Oh the sottishness of superstition, to imagine that Godwill be at man's beck! The curse is turned into a blessing, bythe overruling power of God, in love to Israel. God designed toserve his own glory by Balaam, and therefore met him. If God puta word into the mouth of Balaam, who would have defied God andIsrael, surely he will not be wanting to those who desire toglorify God, and to edify his people; it shall be given whatthey should speak. He who opened the mouth of the ass, causedthe mouth of this wicked man to speak words as contrary to thedesire of his heart, as those of the ass were to the powers ofthe brute. The miracle was as great in the one case as in theother. Balaam pronounces Israel safe. He owns he could do nomore than God suffered him to do. He pronounces them happy intheir distinction from the rest of the nations. Happy in theirnumbers, which made them both honourable and formidable. Happyin their last end. Death is the end of all men; even therighteous must die, and it is good for us to think of this withregard to ourselves, as Balaam does here, speaking of his owndeath. He pronounces the righteous truly blessed, not only whilethey live, but when they die; which makes their death even moredesirable than life itself. But there are many who desire to diethe death of the righteous, but do not endeavour to live thelife of the righteous; gladly would they have an end liketheirs, but not a way like theirs. They would be saints inheaven, but not saints on earth. This saying of Balaam's is onlya wish, not a prayer; it is a vain wish, being only a wish forthe end, without any care for the means. Many seek to quiettheir consciences with the promise of future amendment, or takeup with some false hope, while they neglect the only way ofsalvation, by which a sinner can be righteous before God. 11-30 Balak was angry with Balaam. Thus a confession of God'soverruling power is extorted from a wicked prophet, to theconfusion of a wicked prince. A second time the curse is turnedinto a blessing; and this blessing is both larger and strongerthan the former. Men change their minds, and break their words;but God never changes his mind, and therefore never recalls hispromise. And when in Scripture he is said to repent, it does notmean any change of his mind; but only a change of his way. Therewas sin in Jacob, and God saw it; but there was not such asmight provoke him to give them up to ruin. If the Lord sees thatwe trust in his mercy, and accept of his salvation; that weindulge no secret lust, and continue not in rebellion, butendeavour to serve and glorify him; we may be sure that he looksupon us as accepted in Christ, that our sins are all pardoned.Oh the wonders of providence and grace, the wonders of redeeminglove, of pardoning mercy, of the new-creating Spirit! Balak hadno hope of ruining Israel, and Balaam showed that he had morereason to fear being ruined by them. Since Balaam cannot saywhat he would have him, Balak wished him to say nothing. Butthough there are many devices in man's heart, God's counselsshall stand. Yet they resolve to make another attempt, thoughthey had no promise on which to build their hopes. Let us, whohave a promise that the vision at the end shall speak and notlie, continue earnest in prayer, #Lu 18:1|.
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