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He sends messengers to a man who is perfect for the job. The prophet’s name is Balaam. Balaam’s home town is probably in Northern Syria  about four hundred miles from Moab. So this man obviously has quite a reputation as a prophet. He’s not just a local want-a-be prophet. He is widely recognized as a man who can operate powerfully in the spiritual realm. At the end of verse 6 Balak has said to Balaam, “For I know that those you bless are blessed, and those you curse are cursed.”
One thing about Balaam is certain—he is very spiritual. He hears God speak to him. He has dreams and visions. His problem is not a lack of spirituality. He uses the name Yahweh, which is a strong indication that he knows the true God of Israel. There are interesting paradoxes in this man and some have tried to deal with them by simply labeling him as an evil “baru”—a pagan diviner. But the flow of the story tells us it’s not that simple. In fact, when we do that we miss a significant message about guidance. Balaam hears God speak to him. He gives some of the most powerful prophecies in all the Bible. We see his moral struggles in Chapters 22-25 and then in Chapter 31 and comments in the New Testament we see his ultimate choice.
Now let’s watch Balaam as he seeks to know God’s will in this situation. Follow with me as we read Numbers 22:7-13.
"The elders of Moab and Midian left, taking with them the fee for divination. When they came to Balaam, they told him what Balak had said."
(Notice the Moabites and Midianites have
joined together in this endeavor.
Midian was one of the children Abraham
had with his second wife Keturah.
"And Moab was the child Lot had by his oldest daughter."
Notice they brought with them the fee for
divination. This plays prominently in
8 "Spend the night here," Balaam said to them, "and I will bring you back the answer the LORD gives me." So the Moabite princes stayed with him. 9 God came to Balaam and asked, "Who are these men with you?" 10 Balaam said to God, "Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, sent me this message: 11’A people that has come out of Egypt covers the face of the land. Now come and put a curse on them for me. Perhaps then I will be able to fight them and drive them away.’" 12 But God said to Balaam, "Do not go with them. You must not put a curse on those people, because they are blessed." 13 The next morning Balaam got up and said to Balak’s princes, "Go back to your own country, for the LORD has refused to let me go with you."
Balaam seems to get off to a good start here in verse 8. He knows enough to seek God for direction. Sometimes we fail to get guidance simply because we don’t ask for it. One of the big mistakes Joshua made as a leader was to make a treaty with the Gibeonites without going to God in prayer about the matter. As it turned out the Gibeonites were not being totally honest and Joshua and the leaders in Israel. Leaning on his own understanding Joshua got deceived and missed God. But Balaam does not make that mistake. He insists upon asking God before he gives them an answer. And notice that it is Yahweh (the true God of Israel) that he is going to in prayer.
The answer God gives him
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