Balaam’s Parables (5)

We have noted in this parable (Num 24:3-9) that Israel is viewed as a transformed people through the work of the gracious Spirit of God. In a coming day Israel shall be fragrant and fruitful, bearing testimony for God and being a source of blessing to the nations.

Today, each local assembly is viewed as a garden in the wilderness (1Cor 3:3 – “husbandry”). It is a garden exclusively for God where there will be fragrance and fruitfulness, the fragrance of Christlikeness and the fruit of the Spirit for the deep satisfaction of the heart of God. The living waters of the Spirit’s ministry are essential for the assembly to be fragrant and fruitful. Only the ministry of the gracious Spirit of God can make God’s garden, the assembly, a place of beauty for the pleasure and glory of God.

The ministry of the Word of God is not merely to impart knowledge or truth, but it is also intended to produce something for God in the lives of the saints. Only when the ministry is of the Spirit, and the assembly is marked by separation and harmony, can the assembly, as God’s garden, blossom and fulfill the purpose for which it has been planted.

In Numbers 24:7, we have Israel’s testimony and influence throughout the world: “He shall pour the water out of his buckets.” We understand that this expression likens Israel to a man carrying two buckets overflowing with water, thus indicating the effective witness of Israel and the rich blessing of God that will flow through them to the Gentiles (Isa 4:3; 61:6). The buckets, filled to the brim, overflow at every step the man takes so that water flows everywhere. The Hebrew word for “pour” has for its primary meaning, “to flow as a stream.” This is clearly a figure of divine blessing (Isa 44:3; Eze 47; Zech 14:8) which flows abundantly through the nation of Israel. The buckets are but vessels, nothing in themselves, yet when filled with water they dispense blessing to others. In a coming day Israel, having appreciated that they are nothing apart from the Lord, will be a source of rich blessing to others and wherever they go they will carry the fame and glory of a greater than Solomon Who is in their midst. As Israel has been a curse among the nations through their idolatry, so shall Israel be a blessing to the nations. The influence of Israel shall be worldwide: “His seed shall be in many waters” (Num 24:7); “As dew from the Lord, as the showers upon the grass” (Mic 5:7).

The figure now changes. “His king shall be higher than Agag.” It is not Israel who is exalted, but Israel’s King. The supremacy of Christ is now emphasized. Agag does not refer to one particular king, but is rather a title of all the Amalekite kings in general, just as all the Egyptian kings were called Pharaoh. The mention of Agag is not because the Amalekite kings were the greatest of all time, although Amalek might have been chief among the nations at that time, but being the first nation to attack Israel, they are representative of all the enemies of Israel, of all the Gentile powers.

“Agag” means “sublime or very high,” but Israel’s King shall be higher than the highest emphasizing the greatness, supremacy, and majesty of the Lord Jesus Christ. “His kingdom shall be exalted” (Num 24:7). In that day the promises to David (Psa 132:11; Acts 2:30) and to Mary (Luke 1:31-33) will be brought to fruition. Christ, the King of Israel, is to be higher than all the kings of this world and His kingdom shall be exalted above all other kingdoms.Amalek was not exterminated here in this parable in the wilderness, but, rather, in the final parable (Num 24:20).

“God brought him forth out of Egypt” (Num 24:8). We see that deliverance from Egypt in the past is linked with the future glory of Israel. The same power of God will be displayed in the end times, both in the deliverance and judgment, as was manifested when Israel was brought out of Egypt. “He hath the strength of an unicorn.” “The Lord is my strength and song, and He is become my salvation” (Exo 15:2). “The Lord will be the hope of His people, and the strength of the children of Israel” (Joel 3:16). This power will be displayed in the destruction of all who oppose Israel. “He shall eat up the nations His enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with His arrows” (Num 24:8; cf. Deut 32:42; Dan 2:34-35).

This parable closes with two statements linked with older prophecies reaffirming the Word of God. The first is found in Jacob’s prophecy of Judah (Gen 49:9). “He crouched, he lay down as a lion.” The attitude here is that of expectation, awaiting the moment when the lion will spring upon its prey. The time is not yet come when the Lord will rise in judgment upon the nations. It is now the day of grace, but the day will come when He shall “break them with a rod of iron” and “dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel” (Psa 2:9).

The second is found in God’s promise to Abram (Gen 12:3) and in Isaac’s blessing of Jacob (Gen 27:29). Both declare how sure and unchangeable are the promises of God. They will most certainly find their fulfillment in a future day.