Posts Tagged ‘numbers 24’

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.