An Unwilling Prophet

The story of Balaam in Numbers 22-24 is fascinating, perhaps a little funny. Balak offers Balaam a bribe to get him to speak a curse against Israel. Balaam is willing, though he knows that he is limited to speak only what the Lord will allow. Thus, Balaam would like to be able to say things that have power, but he knows that the words of true prophecy only come from the Lord.


When Balaam sees Israel, and when Balak tells him to let them have it, Balaam opens his mouth. But the only words that come out are words of blessing over Israel. It reminds me, in a sad way, of the movie “Liar Liar,” when the main character wants to lie, but as he speaks, he unwillingly tells the truth.


It is strange, but in the midst of Balaam’s frustration, God allows him to speak an amazing word that points to God’s ultimate plan for Israel and for all the saved.


Numbers 24:17-19


17 I see him, but not now;

I behold him, but not near:

a star shall come out of Jacob,

and a scepter shall rise out of Israel;

it shall crush the forehead of Moab

and break down all the sons of Sheth.

18 Edom shall be dispossessed;

Seir also, his enemies, shall be dispossessed.

Israel is doing valiantly.

19 And one from Jacob shall exercise dominion

and destroy the survivors of cities!”


Consider those words of prophecy. A  star and scepter will come out of Israel. The one to come will crush the enemies of God and rule the world, having dominion (v 19). This is Messiah, the one who will rescue, the promised king sent by God. And Balaam predicts it.


The plan of God is amazing. Nobody can stop it. Balak did not want to hear it. Balaam did not want to speak it. But the Lord told us anyway. He promised a King to come who will reign. Jesus is that King to come.