Evening Bible Study
The nation of Israel
was miraculously set free from their slavery in Egypt by the mighty works of a
They spent their first year out of Egypt at the base of Mount Sinai where Moses
received the commandments of God and they built their portable worship center
called the Tabernacle.
Their journey from Sinai
into the Promised Land should have taken two weeks, but because the people were
not willing to trust God to help them, they ended up wandering in the wilderness
for forty years.
The book of Numbers covers that period of forty years.
We are now at
the end of the forty years. Instead of
the shortcut to Jericho, they had to take a detour around the Edomites, but
they are finally here, across the Jordan River from Jericho. Before they cross though, they need to clear
out some of their enemies on the eastern side of the Jordan River.
:21 Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, saying,
– (“warrior”) Sihon’s capital was in Heshbon (see map)
This fight with Sihon was a turning point for Israel. God seems to have
considered this the beginning of their taking the Promised Land (Deut. 2:24-25)
(Dt 2:24–25 NKJV) —24 “ ‘Rise, take your journey, and cross over the River
Arnon. Look, I have given into your hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon,
and his land. Begin to possess it, and engage him in battle. 25 This day I will
begin to put the dread and fear of you upon the nations under the whole heaven,
who shall hear the report of you, and shall tremble and be in anguish because
with the next king, Og, though we don't think about them much, were quite
significant parts of Israel's history.
Sihon alone, outside our passage here in Numbers 21, is found in 27 others
verses in the Bible! Even by Solomon's time (some 400 years later) that part of
the country, Gilead, was known as Sihon's kingdom. (1Ki.4:19)
The battle here would be so important, that God would use this victory to
shake up future enemies!
(Jos 2:10–11 NKJV) —10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red
Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of
the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed.
11 And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there
remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the Lord your God, He is
God in heaven above and on earth beneath.
One victory builds on another.
God often uses the victories in our past to build upon, preparing us for
(1 Sa 17:34–37 NKJV) —34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his
father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the
flock, 35 I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its
mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and
killed it. 36 Your
servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will
be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.” 37 Moreover David said,
“The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the
bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to
David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!”
Even if you've suffered a few defeats, remember that God is able to give you
:22 “Let me
pass through your land. We will not turn aside into fields or vineyards; we
will not drink water from wells. We will go by the King’s Highway until we have
passed through your territory.”
:23 But Sihon would not allow Israel to pass through his territory. So
Sihon gathered all his people together and went out against Israel in the
wilderness, and he came to Jahaz and fought against Israel.
Jahaz (see map)
:24 Then Israel defeated him with the edge of the sword, and took
possession of his land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, as far as the people of
Ammon; for the border of the people of Ammon was fortified.
:24 Israel defeated
Though it is Israeli men wielding Israeli weapons, later on Israel would
realize that it was God who was doing the real battle.
(Dt 31:4 NKJV) And the Lord will do to them as He did to Sihon and Og, the kings
of the Amorites and their land, when He destroyed them.
God’s deliverance, my hand.
We can get the idea sometimes that if I’m “trusting in the Lord” with my
problems, that I can’t be doing anything about it.
And sometimes it does mean standing back and doing nothing
Moses was told at the Red Sea: “Stand by and see the
salvation ...” (Ex.14:13)
But sometimes, like here, trusting in God can mean getting up and letting
God lead you to do something.
:24 from the Arnon
to the Jabbok
This was the territory of the Amorites, of Sihon.
Moab's border (though it had extended north of the Arnon before Sihon captured
The Jabbok was the Ammonite border.
God had warned Israel not to take the land of the Ammonites (Deut.2).
The Jabbok river was halfway between the Dead Sea and Kinnereth (Galilee).
:25 So Israel
took all these cities, and Israel dwelt in all the cities of the Amorites, in
Heshbon and in all its villages.
– these were some of the ancient people living in this land that God was
sending Israel to drive out of the land. (Ex. 33:2)
Their wickedness had grown to the point where God was bringing them
judgment, through the nation of Israel.
(Dt 9:4 NKJV) “Do not think in your heart, after the Lord your God has cast them
out before you, saying, ‘Because of my righteousness the Lord has brought me in
to possess this land’; but it is because of the wickedness of these nations
that the Lord is driving them out from before you.
:26 For Heshbon
was the city of Sihon king of the Amorites, who had fought against the former
king of Moab, and had taken all his land from his hand as far as the Arnon.
:27 Therefore those who speak in proverbs say: “Come to Heshbon, let it be
built; Let the city of Sihon be repaired.
:27-29 Sihon's song
Apparently this was one of the top forty tunes of Sihon's day, after he had
captured all this territory from the Moabites.
:28 “For fire went
out from Heshbon, A flame from the city of Sihon; It consumed Ar of Moab, The
lords of the heights of the Arnon.
:29 Woe to you, Moab! You have perished, O people of Chemosh! He has given
his sons as fugitives, And his daughters into captivity, To Sihon king of the
The god of the Moabites.
He was known in other places as Moloch or Milcom.
Chemosh was worshipped by burning your children to him.
:30 “But we have shot at them; Heshbon has perished as far as Dibon. Then
we laid waste as far as Nophah, Which reaches to Medeba.”
Sihon’s tune and did a “remix”, adding verse 30 which talked about their
:31 Thus Israel
dwelt in the land of the Amorites.
:32 Then Moses sent to spy out Jazer; and they took its villages and drove
out the Amorites who were there.
:33 And they turned and went up by the way to Bashan. So Og king of Bashan
went out against them, he and all his people, to battle at Edrei.
Another term for the land
of Gilead, the land east of the Jordan to the north, east of the sea of Galilee
:34 Then the
Lord said to Moses, “Do not fear him, for I have delivered him into your hand,
with all his people and his land; and you shall do to him as you did to Sihon
king of the Amorites, who dwelt at Heshbon.”
:35 So they defeated him, his sons, and all his people, until there was no
survivor left him; and they took possession of his land.
Og was no ordinary guy, he was a giant.
(Dt 3:11 NLT) (King Og of Bashan was the last survivor of the giant Rephaites.
His bed was made of iron and was more than thirteen feet long and six feet
wide. It can still be seen in the Ammonite city of Rabbah.)
The Rephaim were a race of giants.
A bed that’s 13
˝ feet long and 6 feet wide! That’s a BIG bed!
Goliath wasn’t the only giant in the Bible.
The Israelites were originally afraid of going into the Promised Land
because of the giants (Num. 13-14). And yet here they are conquering a giant
before they have even crossed the border.
Life is full of giants. You won’t be able to avoid them.
The truth is, God is bigger than the giants.
:34 Do not fear him
Even though Og and his surroundings were huge, God was bigger.
What kind of fears do you face?
He’s on your side
Why should I be afraid?
(Ro 8:31 NKJV) What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can
be against us?
That doesn’t mean that God is our excuse to do whatever we
want and then say, “Well God is on MY side”.
It’s important that we’re on God’s side.
22:1-21 Prophet for
:1 Then the children of Israel moved, and camped in the plains of Moab on
the side of the Jordan across from Jericho.
:1 plains of Moab
Show “Plains of
Moab” map video.
:2 Now Balak
the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites.
The battles with Sihon and Og had been all over the newspapers…
:3 And Moab was exceedingly afraid of the people because they were many,
and Moab was sick with dread because of the children of Israel.
– the Moabites were the descendants of Abraham’s nephew Lot, children from Lot’s strange incestuous
relationship with his daughters after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The
Ammonites were also descendants of Lot.
Think of Moab's situation: Here you are, safe and comfortable in your own
home, when suddenly a huge
swarm of TWO MILLION people come marching toward your little country. And these
two million people were so rough and tough that they just got wiping out the
last guy who beat up your little country. Lots of reason to be afraid, right?
Talk about an “illegal alien” problem!
The Moabites are afraid of these Israelites, but what they don’t realize is
that God has already told Israel to keep their hands off of the Moabites:
(Dt 2:9 NKJV) Then the Lord said to me, ‘Do not harass Moab, nor contend with
them in battle, for I will not give you any of their land as a possession,
because I have given Ar to the descendants of Lot as a possession.’ ”
In actuality, they are afraid of nothing. They are afraid of the “what
:4 So Moab said
to the elders of Midian, “Now this company will lick up everything around us,
as an ox licks up the grass of the field.” And Balak the son of Zippor was king
of the Moabites at that time.
:4 elders of Midian
– more than just Moabites were involved. Midian is south of Moab, but there were apparently
Midianites living in Moab.
– Balaq – “devastator”
:5 Then he sent
messengers to Balaam the son of Beor at Pethor, which is near the River in the
land of the sons of his people, to call him, saying: “Look, a people has come
from Egypt. See, they cover the face of the earth, and are settling next to me!
northeast in modern Syria, located on the Euphrates River near the site of
ancient Carchemish. See map video “Pethor”.
– “not of the people”
The more you look at Balaam, the question will come up, “What do we do with
Balaam?” Is he a real prophet? Is he a “believer”?
In the next couple of chapters you will see Balaam being hired to put a
“curse” on the Israelites.
He will not be able to do that because God wanted to bless Israel, not
Then in Numbers 25, something strange happens, Moabite women come into the
Israelite camp and begin to tempt the men into sexual immorality and worship of
their Moabite gods. The next thing you know, Israel is in trouble with God.
You don’t find out until later that the sexual immorality was all Balaam’s
idea. (Num. 31:16). He was the one who gave the Moabites the advice to send in
the young ladies.
Balaam is a guy with two problems:
One of Balaam’s hidden driving forces is that of money.
You’ll see him offered lots of money to make Balak’s problem go away.
At first you think that Balaam is not going to bend to the financial
It’s just that you don’t see all the story in these chapters.
Peter warns his readers about “false teachers” who will lead them astray
and he mentions Balaam:
(2 Pe 2:15 NKJV) They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following
the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;
In reality, the thing that drives Balaam is the almighty
Be careful when you find yourself making decisions solely
on the basis of the profit and loss statement.
Some things in life are more important than money.
(1 Ti 6:6–10 NKJV) —6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we
brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and
clothing, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich
fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which
drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of
evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and
pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Balaam’s other issue has to do with sex – not his own sexual sins, but the
fact that he encouraged other people into sexual sin. You won’t see the full evidence of this until
we get to Numbers 31.
He’s like the “Hugh
Hefner” of prophets.
Jesus rebukes the church at Pergamos for holding the “doctrine of Balaam”
(Re 2:14 NKJV) But I have a few things against you, because you have there
those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before
the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.
This “doctrine of Balaam” was the idea that he didn’t have
any trouble teaching Balak how to cause the Israelites to stumble by having the
Moabite women lead the Israelites away from God through sexual immorality.
(1 Th 4:3 NKJV) —3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that
you should abstain from sexual immorality;
(1 Co 6:18 NKJV) —18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is
outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own
God is real concerned that we keep sex where it was designed for –
please come at once, curse this people for me, for they are too mighty for me.
Perhaps I shall be able to defeat them and drive them out of the land, for I
know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed.”
:6 curse this
people – Balak figures he can’t take on the Israelites without some
help from the “gods”. He’s heard that Balaam has pull with the gods.
Since God was on Israel's side, He didn't pay much attention to what Balak
and Balaam were trying to do.
(Dt 23:5 NKJV) Nevertheless the Lord your God would not listen to Balaam, but the
Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your
God loves you.
:7 So the elders
of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the diviner’s fee in their hand,
and they came to Balaam and spoke to him the words of Balak.
They were going to pay Balaam to put a curse on Israel.
Apparently the fees must have caught Balaam’s eye, since he didn’t seem to
want to drop the whole thing but pursue it. Remember he’s a “material guy”.
:8 And he said to them, “Lodge here tonight, and I will bring back word to
you, as the LORD speaks to me.” So the princes of Moab stayed with Balaam.
:8 the LORD
– Balaam calls God “Yahweh”. This is God’s “covenant” name, the name generally
reserved for those who have a relationship with God.
Was Balaam a “believer”?
It’s possible. Some
have argued that this might be the case.
He will have some amazing
prophecies about the nation of Israel.
It’s also possible
that Balaam only had a “passing acquaintance” with God.
The New Testament seems to pretty clearly rank Balaam with false teachers.
(2Pet.2:15; Jude 1:11; Rev. 2:14)
Even if you make the case that he is a “believer”, he’s
DEFINITELY not one you want to be like.
Why would Balaam refer to God as “Yahweh” if he wasn’t a true believer?
It was pretty well understood by everyone that Yahweh was the name of
Israel’s God, and if you are a diviner, you have to convince your client that you’re
on a first name basis with the target’s God.
Contrary to popular opinion, God does not limit His conversations to
There were other instances where God spoke to an unbeliever:
To Abimelech (Gen.20:6-7); To Pharaoh (Gen.41:25); To
Nebuchadnezzar (Dan.2; 4:1-18)
:9 Then God
came to Balaam and said, “Who are these men with you?”
:9 God –
you will notice that when God is talking to Balaam, He is called “elohim”, the
generic term for God (not Yahweh).
:10 So Balaam
said to God, “Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, has sent to me, saying,
:11 ‘Look, a people has come out of Egypt, and they cover the face of the
earth. Come now, curse them for me; perhaps I shall be able to overpower them
and drive them out.’ ”
:12 And God said to Balaam, “You shall not go with them; you shall not
curse the people, for they are blessed.”
:13 So Balaam rose in the morning and said to the princes of Balak, “Go
back to your land, for the LORD has refused to give me permission to go with
At this point you get to feeling that Balaam is a guy who is “right on”. God
speaks and he does what God wants.
:14 And the princes of Moab rose and went to Balak, and said, “Balaam
refuses to come with us.”
:15 Then Balak again sent princes, more numerous and more honorable than
:15 more honorable
– kabad – to be heavy, be weighty, be
rich, be honorable
It might mean that they came with more money.
Did Balaam give the first group the impression that they weren't important
enough? Or perhaps they hadn’t come up with enough financial incentive.
Maybe if they raised the stakes a bit, then he would listen?
:16 And they
came to Balaam and said to him, “Thus says Balak the son of Zippor: ‘Please let
nothing hinder you from coming to me;
:17 for I will certainly honor you greatly, and I will do whatever you say
to me. Therefore please come, curse this people for me.’ ”
:18 Then Balaam answered and said to the servants of Balak, “Though Balak
were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the
word of the LORD my God, to do less or more.
:18 house full of
silver and gold – Is Balaam really saying "no", or is he
just dropping a big hint?
:18 the LORD my God
– Balaam is calling Yahweh his “god”. Is he a believer or is he just trying to
impress his client, Balak? Hmmm.
:19 Now therefore,
please, you also stay here tonight, that I may know what more the LORD will say
:20 And God came to Balaam at night and said to him, “If the men come to
call you, rise and go with them; but only the word which I speak to you—that
you shall do.”
:21 So Balaam rose in the morning, saddled his donkey, and went with the
princes of Moab.
:20 go with them
It might sounds as if God is changing His mind through the story.
I see it as if God is trying to make sure that Balaam understands clearly
that if he is going to go, he needs to be sure to only speak the things that
God is telling him to speak.
It seems to me that God is allowing Balaam to go in order to get a message
to Balak – that God loves Israel.
22:22-41 The Talking
:22 Then God’s anger was aroused because he went, and the Angel of the LORD
took His stand in the way as an adversary against him. And he was riding on his
donkey, and his two servants were with him.
:22 God’s anger
It can look as if God can’t make up His mind.
I think that Balaam is the one that is wavering, not God.
Balaam is getting excited about being able to go to Moab and make some
God is getting concerned that Balaam is going to get
carried away with his lust for money and do something stupid.
:22 the Angel of
Or, the “messenger of Yahweh”.
This is a specific, unique person in the Old Testament.
He was the one
who stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac (Gen. 22:11)
He was the one
who appeared to Moses in the burning bush (Ex. 3:2)
He appeared to
Gideon (Judg. 6:11)
He appeared to
Samson’s parents (Judg. 13:3)
appears over 50 times in the Old Testament.
It is Jesus Christ
making an appearance before He was born in Bethlehem.
:23 Now the
donkey saw the Angel
of the LORD standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand, and the
donkey turned aside out of the way and went into the field. So Balaam struck
the donkey to turn her back onto the road.
The awesome prophet doesn’t see the Angel, but the donkey does?
:24 Then the Angel of the LORD stood in a narrow path between the
vineyards, with a wall on this side and a wall on that side.
:25 And when the donkey saw the Angel of the LORD, she pushed herself
against the wall and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall; so he struck her
:26 Then the Angel of the LORD went further, and stood in a narrow place
where there was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left.
:27 And when the donkey saw the Angel of the LORD, she lay down under
Balaam; so Balaam’s anger was aroused, and he struck the donkey with his staff.
:28 Then the LORD opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam,
“What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?”
:29 And Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have abused me. I wish
there were a sword in my hand, for now I would kill you!”
Talking donkey? Why doesn’t Balaam
A dad liked to read his two young sons fairy tales at night. Having a deep
rooted sense of humor, he often ad-libbed parts of the stories for fun. One day his youngest son
was sitting in his first grade class as the teacher was reading the story of
the Three Little
Pigs. She came to the part of the story
where the first pig was trying to acquire building materials for his home. She
said “...And so the pig went up to the man carrying a load of straw and said ‘Pardon me
sir, but might I have some of that straw to build my house with?’” Then the teacher asked the class “And what do
you think that man said?” and the man’s son raised his hand and said “I know! I
know! He said ‘Holy smoke! A talking pig!’”
That kid got it right!
Could it be that Balaam had watched too many episodes of … horse? Play “Mr. Ed” clip.
find it amazing that a donkey is talking.
I find it more amazing that Balaam wasn’t bothered by it and even answered
A city man was
tooling down a country road when his car sputtered to a complete stop near a
field filled with cows. The driver, getting out to see what was the matter,
noticed one of the cows
looking at him. “I believe it’s your radiator,” said the cow. The man nearly
jumped right out of his city slicker britches! He ran to the nearest farmhouse and knocked on
the door. “A cow just gave me advice about my car!” he shouted, waving his arms
frantically back toward the field. The farmer nonchalantly leaned out beyond the
doorframe to glance down the field. “The cow with them two big black spots on
it?” the farmer asked slowly. “Yes! Yes! That’s the one!” the excited man
replied. “Oh. Well, that there’s Ethel,” the farmer said, turning back to the
man. “Don’t pay no attention to her. She don’t know a thang about cars.”
:30 So the
donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden, ever
since I became yours, to this day? Was I ever disposed to do this to you?” And
he said, “No.”
:31 Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the Angel of the LORD
standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand; and he bowed his head and
fell flat on his face.
If this had been an ordinary angel, he
would have refused worship (Rev. 22:8-9).
But it wasn’t an ordinary angel, it was Jesus.
:32 And the
Angel of the LORD said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three
times? Behold, I have come out to stand against you, because your way is
perverse before Me.
:33 The donkey saw Me and turned aside from Me these three times. If she
had not turned aside from Me, surely I would also have killed you by now, and
let her live.”
:32 your way is
God did not change His mind about Balaam going.
Balaam changed his heart. Instead of going simply and purely to do what God
wanted him to do, God could see that Balaam was beginning to cook up ideas of
how he was going to make some money.
:33 If she had not
The Angel was going to kill Balaam and let the donkey live.
It’s a pretty sad state of things when your donkey has more favor with God
than you do.
Delays aren’t always bad.
Sometimes things happen to delay us, hold us up, etc, and we get mad.
But rather than get mad at the “donkey” that slowed me down, perhaps we
ought to consider that God was sparing my life.
:34 And Balaam
said to the Angel of the Lord, “I have sinned, for I did not know You stood in
the way against me. Now therefore, if it displeases You, I will turn back.”
:35 Then the Angel of the Lord said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but only
the word that I speak to you, that you shall speak.” So Balaam went with the
princes of Balak.
God has given Balaam several warnings.
Hopefully he’s got the message that God is serious about him only saying
that God wants him to say…
:36 Now when Balak heard that Balaam was coming, he went out to meet him at
the city of Moab, which is on the border at the Arnon, the boundary of the
:36 the Arnon
– the border between Moab and Sihon. Look at Map.
:37 Then Balak
said to Balaam, “Did I not earnestly send to you, calling for you? Why did you
not come to me? Am I not able to honor you?”
:38 And Balaam said to Balak, “Look, I have come to you! Now, have I any
power at all to say anything? The word that God puts in my mouth, that I must
:39 So Balaam went with Balak, and they came to Kirjath Huzoth.
:39 Kirjath Huzoth
– “city of streets” or “city of the “highway”
We’re not sure where this is. It most likely was up in the hills
overlooking the plains. Balaam will want to get a look at these people before
he tries “cursing” them. Perhaps
it was a city located on the “King’s Highway”. See map.
:40 Then Balak
offered oxen and sheep, and he sent some to Balaam and to the princes who were
rituals begin. Sometimes divination
involved the examining of an animal’s internal organs to tell the future.
:41 So it was, the next day, that Balak took Balaam and brought him up to
the high places of Baal, that from there he might observe the extent of the
They went up to higher ground to get a glimpse of the invading people. The
higher ground also happened to be a worship place of one of the local gods.