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The Message is Greater Than the Messenger

October 20, 2009 2 comments

This is the prophecy Balaam delivered: “. . . A star will rise from Jacob; a scepter will emerge from Israel.” (Numbers 24:15-17 NLT)

Sometimes prophecies came from an unexpected source. That’s the case with the prophecy above, which was given by Balaam, who happens to be one of the more curious characters in the Bible.

He was not an Israelite but was said to be a diviner from the region of the Euphrates River. Balak, a king who was hostile toward Israel, hired Balaam to curse God’s chosen people as they wandered through the wilderness. At first, Balaam wouldn’t comply because he knew that God was with the Israelites. But Balak upped the ante, Balaam’s greed got the better of him, and he agreed to pronounce a curse upon the people of Israel.

Instead of getting a curse out of Balaam, Balak got the prophecy that a “star will rise from Jacob” and “a scepter will emerge from Israel.” In other words, a mighty King would arise out of Israel and a star would signal His coming. This is actually a prophecy pointing to Jesus Christ and adds significance to the star that led the wise men to Him ( Matthew 2:2). Moreover, Balaam went on to say that Balak’s nation, Moab, would be cursed instead of Israel (Numbers 24:17). This certainly wasn’t what Balak had paid for!

This unexpected turn of events underscores something fascinating about prophecy. It shows that God can even use a covetous mercenary like Balaam to proclaim His truth. The message is what truly matters, not the messenger who delivers it.

Balaam eventually provided Balak with a strategy to corrupt the Israelites and was killed when God called His people to do some spiritual housecleaning (Numbers 31:1-16). He stands as a tragic figure in God’s Word. And yet, even his sin wasn’t enough to prevent the prophetic word concerning Christ from being proclaimed. The message is always greater than the messenger, and in Balaam’s case, it was much greater.

Discuss and share with the group about a time when you received something significant from an unexpected source. What message did you receive from the messenger?

Dig into Numbers 24. Where do you see the difference displayed between the message and the messenger? What were the prophetic words pointing to the future? When have you compromised with the truth God has entrusted to you? What can you learn from this lesson?

Decide to be messengers to those who have given their lives to giving the message. As a group, write a letter of encouragement and support to someone on the mission field. Remind them of the importance of their faithful service and sacrifice.

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Perfection or Deception

October 13, 2009 Leave a comment

“And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’; when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.”-Deuteronomy 18:21-22 (NKJV)

Satan is the ultimate counterfeiter. Where there’s something of spiritual value and benefit for God’s people, you can be sure that our adversary has devised a deceptive “stand-in” to lead us astray. Prophecy is no exception. The devil was hard at work during Israel’s infancy as he sought to infect the Israelites with false prophets who said they spoke “in the name of the Lord.” His agenda? To get God’s people off-track by convincing them to follow false prophets.

The problem with counterfeits, however, is that there’s always a test to reveal their true colors. When people are patient enough to apply the appropriate test, the deception will become evident and the deceiver will be exposed. God gave the Israelites a specific test when it came to the false prophets in their midst. It was really simple. If their prophecies came to pass, they were true prophets of God. If their prophecies didn’t go down as predicted, they were to be marked as false prophets and executed. No gray ground there!

By establishing this standard, God teaches us three things. First, there will be false prophets we need to watch out for. Second, true prophecy will always have a perfect track record. And last, any prophecy containing the slightest bit of error is part of the devil’s deception. When it comes to prophecy, it’s either a matter of perfection or deception, absolute acceptance or utter rejection.

This is the standard we apply to the Bible in determining it is God’s Perfect Word. There is not a single prophecy in the Bible that has proven incorrect or inaccurate in the slightest degree, and keep in mind that nearly one-third of it is prophetic in nature! This should produce a healthy appreciation in our hearts for prophecy. May we seek out opportunities to share about the Bible’s perfect prophetic track record.

Discuss an experience where you learned something was not as you had thought. How did God teach you through this?

Dig into Deuteronomy 18:15–22. What is the true test of a prophetic utterance? What was the penalty for the false prophet, and why do you think this was the case?

Decide as a group to enjoy the blessing of prophetic preaching. Set aside a time to meet together and listen to one of the messages from the Active Word archive. Choose from hundreds of messages found at ActiveWord.org.

The Bible Tells Me So

February 7, 2008 Leave a comment

For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.–Romans 15:4 (NKJV)

It all starts with the Scriptures. That’s what we need to remember when it comes to our beliefs and behaviors. Why do you think that? Why do you do that? Why don’t you do that? These are questions you and I are faced with as we walk out our Christian lives in this world. And the answer to each of these questions is essentially the same: because the Bible tells me so.

The centrality of Scripture is the foundation of our faith. For without the Bible, we don’t have an objective standard to define right from wrong, truth from error. Think it through. If the Bible didn’t exist, everyone would be placed in the driver’s seat of truth. Each person would have his or her own concepts concerning morality, God, death, and the afterlife. But the Bible eliminates all this by declaring that it speaks the truth on all issues of life. If a philosophy or teaching conflicts with what the Bible says, then it’s untrue.

God gave us His Word for our learning in this world and so that we might have hope in the world to come. Without Scripture, we would be on shaky ground on both counts, which is why we, as Christians, need to be people of God’s Word. We need to know what it says, believe it, and practice it with every ounce of life that God graciously grants to us.

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes . . . . (Psalm 19:7’8 NKJV)

DIG – What role does the Bible play when it comes to the Christian faith?

DISCOVER – How central are the Scriptures when it comes to your personal walk with God? Cite a few examples.

DISPLAY – How will you answer those who ask you why you believe what you believe and behave the way you behave?

This Bible Study was prepared by Pastor Bob Coy of The Active Word.

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The Message Is Greater Than the Messenger

December 19, 2007 1 comment

View all our studies on Prophecy | Our Homepage

This is the prophecy Balaam delivered: ‘. . . A star will rise from Jacob; a scepter will emerge from Israel.’ (Numbers 24:15-17 NLT)

Sometimes prophecies came from an unexpected source. That’s the case with the prophecy above, which was given by Balaam, who happens to be one of the more curious characters in the Bible.

He was not an Israelite but was said to be a diviner from the region of the Euphrates River. Balak, a king who was hostile toward Israel, hired Balaam to curse God’s chosen people as they wandered through the wilderness. At first, Balaam wouldn’t comply because he knew that God was with the Israelites. But Balak upped the ante, Balaam’s greed got the better of him, and he agreed to pronounce a curse upon the people of Israel.

Instead of getting a curse out of Balaam, Balak got the prophecy that ‘A star will rise from Jacob’ and ‘a scepter will emerge from Israel.’ In other words, a mighty King would arise out of Israel and a star would signal His coming. This is actually a prophecy pointing to Jesus Christ and adds significance to the star that led the wise men to Him (Matthew 2:2). Moreover, Balaam went on to say that Balak’s nation, Moab, would be cursed instead of Israel (Numbers 24:17). This certainly wasn’t what Balak had paid for!

This unexpected turn of events underscores something fascinating about prophecy. It shows that God can even use a covetous mercenary like Balaam to proclaim His truth. The message is what truly matters, not the messenger who delivers it.

Balaam eventually provided Balak with a strategy to corrupt the Israelites, and was killed when God called His people to do some spiritual housecleaning (Numbers 31:1-16). He stands as a tragic figure in God’s Word. And yet, even his sin wasn’t enough to prevent the prophetic word concerning Christ from being proclaimed. The message is always greater than the messenger, and in Balaam’s case, it was much greater.

DIG – What prophetic principle do we learn from Balaam’s bad example?

DISCOVER – How can this principle be applied to other areas of your life?

DISPLAY – What safeguards will you put in your heart based on what happened to Balaam?

This Bible Study was prepared by Pastor Bob Coy of The Active Word.

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Out of Time

November 12, 2007 Leave a comment

Visit PlanetHoly.com for more bible studies. More studies on Prophecy.

And do not forget the things I have done throughout history. For I am God–I alone! I am God, and there is no one else like me. Only I can tell you what is going to happen even before it happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.--Isaiah 46:9-10 (NLT)

Prophecy proves that the Bible is, in fact, God’s Word to mankind. But how? How do we know that the Bible isn’t just another human’s take on the truth? In order to understand this better, we need to define our terms.

First, when we speak of prophecy, we’re talking about the foretelling of events. The word prophecy can also have the broader meaning of speaking forth God’s will for His people (1 Corinthians 12:10). But for our purpose, we’ll concentrate on predictive prophecies, or prophecies that deal with future events.

Second, we need to recognize that we, as human beings, are trapped in time. We can only experience life in the present tense. It’s impossible for us to see and know the future with the same certainty as the present. This places a serious limitation on humanity but lends power to prophecy.

Finally, we must understand that God is not trapped in time like we are. He inhabits eternity according to Isaiah 57:15, which means He can look down from His vantage point and see our entire timeline–past, present, and future–all at once. Think through the implications of this. Because God has an eternal perspective, He can tell us in advance what will occur in our future. He has done this by providing us with prophecies.

Each prophecy in Scripture comes to us from the Eternal God, who inhabits a space outside of time and has the power to tell us what’s going to happen before it actually does.

DIG – How does predictive prophecy prove that God is responsible for the Bible?

DISCOVER – What should you consider when you encounter a prophecy in Scripture?

DISPLAY – How can you use predictive prophecy in sharing your faith?

This Bible Study was prepared by Pastor Bob Coy of The Active Word.