Numbers 24* Balaam, leaving divinations, prophesies the happiness ofIsrael. (1-9) Balak dismisses Balaam in anger. (10-14) Balaam'sprophecies. (15-25)1-9 Now Balaam spake not his own sense, but the language of theSpirit that came upon him. Many have their eyes open who havenot their hearts open; are enlightened, but not sanctified. Thatknowledge which puffs men up with pride, will but serve to lightthem to hell, whither many go with their eyes open. The blessingis nearly the same as those given before. He admires in Israel,their beauty. The righteous, doubtless, is more excellent thanhis neighbour. Their fruitfulness and increase. Their honour andadvancement. Their power and victory. He looks back upon whathad been done for them. Their power and victory. He looks backupon what had been done for them. Their courage and security.The righteous are bold as a lion, not when assaulting others,but when at rest, because God maketh them to dwell in safety.Their influence upon their neighbours. God takes what is done tothem, whether good or evil, as done to himself. 10-14 This vain attempt to curse Israel is ended. Balak brokeout into a rage against Balaam, and expressed great vexation.Balaam has a very full excuse; God restrained him from sayingwhat he would have said, and constrained him to say what hewould not have uttered. 15-25 Under the powerful influence of the Spirit of prophecy,Balaam foretold the future prosperity and extensive dominion ofIsrael. Balaam boasts that his eyes are open. The prophets werein old times called seers. He had heard the words of God, whichmany do who neither heed them, nor hear God in them. He knew theknowledge of the Most High. A man may be full of the knowledgeof God, yet utterly destitute of the grace of God. He calls Godthe Most High and the Almighty. No man could seem to express agreater respect to God; yet he had no true fear of him, love tohim, nor faith in him; so far a man may go toward heaven, andyet come short of it at last. Here is Balaam's prophecyconcerning Him who should be the crown and glory of his peopleIsrael; who is David in the type; but our Lord Jesus, thepromised Messiah, is chiefly pointed at, and of him it is anillustrious prophecy. Balaam, a wicked man, shall see Christ,but shall not see him nigh; not see him as Job, who saw him ashis Redeemer, and saw him for himself. When he comes in theclouds, every eye shall see him; but many will see him, as therich man in hell saw Abraham, afar off. He shall come out ofJacob, and Israel, as a Star and a Sceptre; the former denotinghis glory and lustre; the latter his power and authority. Christshall be King, not only of Jacob and Israel, but of all theworld; so that all shall be either governed by his goldensceptre, or dashed in pieces by his iron rod. Balaam prophesiedconcerning the Amalekites and Kenites, part of whose country hehad now in view. Even a nest in a rock will not be a lastingsecurity. Here is a prophecy that looks as far forward as to theGreeks and Romans. He acknowledges all the revolutions of statesand kingdoms to be the Lord's doing. These events will make suchdesolations, that scarcely any will escape. They that live then,will be as brands plucked out of the fire. May God fit us forthe worst of times! Thus Balaam, instead of cursing the church,curses Amalek the first, and Rome the last enemy of the church.Not Rome pagan only, but Rome papal also; antichrist and all theantichristian powers. Let us ask ourselves, Do we in knowledge,experience, or profession, excel Balaam? No readiness of speech,even in preaching or prayer, no gifts of knowledge or prophecy,are in themselves different from, or superior to the boastedgifts of him who loved the wages of unrighteousness, and diedthe enemy of God. Simple dependence on the Redeemer's atoningblood and sanctifying grace, cheerful submission to the Divinewill, constant endeavours to glorify God and benefit his people,these are less splendid, but far more excellent gifts, andalways accompany salvation. No boasting hypocrite ever possessedthese; yet the feeblest believer has something of them, and isdaily praying for more of them.
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