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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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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

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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.