Summary: Although God’s way can seem must unusual, trust him with patient hope. Parts: A. His way amazes. B. His way brings hope. C. His way prevails.

Text: Numbers 24:17

Theme: God’s Way Does Not Fail

A. His way amazes

B. His way brings hope

C. His way prevails

Season: Christmas 1

Date: December 27, 2009

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Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Word from God through which Jesus shines into our hearts is Numbers 24.

""I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise of Israel"" (Numbers 24:17 NIV)

Dear friends in Christ, fellow saints washed clean in the blood of our risen Savior:

"’My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD. ’As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’" (Isaiah 55:8, 9 NIV). Bible history again and again illustrates how true those words are.

Consider the details of our Savior’s birth. Would we have planned it that way? None of us would choose to lay our newborn in a trough where animals had fed. But that was God’s way for his Son. And maybe we would have thought, "Yea! Let’s send some angels!" But would we have sent them to no-name shepherds, out in the country where no one else could see them? God’s way is not our way.

But God’s way does not fail. That’s something for us to take to heart, especially when we want to cry out, "Why God, why this way? It’s too hard for me!" God’s ways are far beyond our ways. But his way does not fail. Let’s think about that as we ponder the prophecy from Numbers 24. I think you’ve heard this prophecy many times before. You know how it’s fulfilled in Jesus. But as we look at the context, God’s way becomes all the more amazing.

A. His way amazes

1. What was so unusual about the way this prophecy came to be spoken?

This prophecy did not come about in the usual way. It wasn’t spoken directly by the Lord, as when he promised the Savior to Adam and Eve or to Abraham. It wasn’t spoken by a believing prophet of Israel, such as Isaiah or Micah. It was spoken by someone whom we would call a sorcerer. His name was Balaam son of Beor.

Do you remember how it happened? The Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt about forty years earlier. It was now time to enter the promised land. On the east side of the Jordan they had defeated Sihon king of the Amorites and Og king of Bashan. When the people of Moab saw this, they were terrified. Their king, Balak son of Zippor, took action.

If the Amorites couldn’t stand against Israel, he figured he couldn’t either. So he tried another tactic. He sent an envoy to Balaam son of Beor in Pethor. He wanted to hire Balaam to curse Israel. If they were cursed, then perhaps he could better them in battle.

That night the LORD told Balaam not to go. So he sends King Balak’s envoy away the next day. But Balak was persistent. He sent more princes who were more distinguished and promised Balaam even greater rewards. That night the LORD allowed him to go, if and only if he did what they LORD told him.

When Balaam set out, he apparently had decided in his heart not to do what the LORD would tell him. For you see the angel of the LORD stood in his way and would have killed him, except Balaam’s donkey saw the angel and went off the path around him.

Since Balaam couldn’t see the angel, he became anger with his donkey. Finally the third time, when there was no room for the donkey to go around, it just sat down and Balaam beat it. Then the donkey spoke "Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?" (Numbers 22:29 NIV). And the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes to see the angel, and he agreed to speak only what the LORD told him.

Now King Balak readied seven altars with sacrifices as preparation for Balaam to curse Israel. But instead of a curse Balaam spoke a blessing, since those were the words the Lord had given him. King Balak had Balaam try again at another place. Again he blessed Israel. They try a third time. Instead of resorting to sorcery as he had on other occasions, Balaam continued to bless Israel as the LORD had told him. By now King Balak was furious, but before he left, Balaam spoke some more words of blessing and prophecy, including our text.

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