And the children of Israel set forward, and pitched in the plains of Moab on this side Jordan by Jericho. And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites. And Moab was sore afraid of the people, because they were many: and Moab was distressed because of the children of Israel. And Moab said unto the elders of Midian, Now shall this company lick up all that are round about us, as the ox licketh up the grass of the field. And Balak the son of Zippor was king of the Moabites at that time. He sent messengers therefore unto Balaam the son of Beor to Pethor, which is by the river of the land of the children of his people, to call him, saying, Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt: behold, they cover the face of the earth, and they abide over against me: Come now therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people; for they are too mighty for me: peradventure I shall prevail, that we may smite them, and that I may drive them out of the land: for I wot that he whom thou blessest is blessed, and he whom thou cursest is cursed.(Numbers 22:1-6)
It is unfortunate that all too often Bible Stories are relegated to Sunday school morality lessons, flannel-graph pictures, Veggie Tales or children’s coloring books. This is a shame, because Bible Stories are revealed as salvation history, from God and to adults. They are not mere morality tales, they are history. And they are prophecy. They serve to reveal the first and second comings of the Messiah.
The story of Balaam in the book of Numbers is an example of how relevant and prophetic Bible stories really are.
The setting is in the Exodus wanderings of Israel, the newly redeemed slave nation, entering into the land God promised them, through Abraham,Isaac and Jacob. They had been in exile from the land for 400 years and were in the process of possessing it.
Is that not the position Israel is in today? Having been exiled since 70 AD, Israel has come back to life again, and in the process of returning to the land God promised Abraham ,Isaac and Jacob.
But there was much consternation among those who dwelt in the land in Israel’s absence, particularly Israel’s Arab neighbors, the Midianites, Moabites and Ammonites.
Even so today, Israel’s Arab neighbors are very concerned about the Jewish State, and continually raise a tumult whether it be the five major wars, the ongoing terror campaign of the last 40 years, or the aggressive use of oil as leverage, to force the nations to disinherit Israel.
Balak, one of their Kings, was particularly frightened of Israel, having seen the destruction wrought upon the stronger Amorite Kingdom, also upon the Kingdom of OG, and the total devastation of Egypt. This man did not think that He could defeat Israel by military means, He would have to resort to something else to resist them.
The modern return to the land has had a startlingly similar impact upon the Arabs of Jordan, Egypt, Arabia, Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon. Having failed to defeat them in five major wars, in spite of overwhelming superiority of numbers, weapons and wealth, as well as the element of surprise, the humiliated Arabs have had to adapt.
They united to use oil as a leverage, they would make Europe and America pay for their support of Israel. Petro wealth would be wielded strategically to affect the foreign policy of the nations against Israel. This has been successfully achieved over the last forty years.
In the story in Numbers, Balak seeks a Diviner to “curse Israel”, offering wealth in exchange for pronunciations of doom, failure and defeat. The word “curse” here is a term which means to hollow out, to drain, to empty.
He would hire someone to hollow out Israel’s confidence, her legitimacy to drain her of resolve, to empty her of inward conviction.
Is this not startlingly modern? Politicians, news anchors, Leaders in Education, even whole departments in Universities have been bought by Arabs. Pop stars, foreign ministers, opinion shapers and molders, and even religious leaders now publicly delegitimize her, to demoralize her sense of being in the right, to hollow out Israel’s conviction to stay the course. Even Fox news is now owned in part by a Saudi prince.
Those millions of petro-dollars have steadily had their effect, eroding the support for Israel since the Six-Day War, glamorizing the “Palestinian cause”, and repeating calumny after calumny. World opinion is slowly turning against Israel, there have been boycotts, street demonstrations and even open persecution of Jews in Europe, and the pro-Israel climate in America has cooled rapidly.
The last bastion of support for the state of Israel, has been the world of Evangelicalism, but now even there, voices are calling for a more pro Palestinian outlook, in the name of “social justice” combined with replacement theology.
But how will it end? Can Israel really ever successfully be cursed?