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Jesus as the Star/Scepter of Jacob

13 Nov

scepter.png
The narrative recorded in Numbers 22-25 sounds like a fanciful story because of the talking donkey. But it’s no more difficult for the God who created the universe out of nothing to make one of his creatures speak than it was for Him to produce a child in the womb of a virgin.
In this account, we see a king (Balak) who is terrified when he sees the children of Israel approaching. He had heard that they had come up out of Egypt (Num.22:5), were numerous, “they cover the face of the earth” and were too close for comfort; they were settling next to him. (Num. 22:5) They were camped in the plains of Moab on the side of the Jordan across from Jericho. (Num. 22:1) He had heard what Israel had already done to the Amorites, in defeating them and taking their land. (Num. 22:2, 21:21-35) This made him “sick with dread.” (Num. 22:3)
So, desperate, he calls for a famous seer named Balaam. “Therefore, please come at once, curse this people 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.” Num. 22:6
As a side note, in 1967 archeologists unearthed an Aramaic inscription from the 8th century B.C. that cites Balaam the prophet, thus showing that he was known broadly in his day. (What the Old Testament Authors Really Cared About Jason S. DeRouchie p. 122)
Although in this story we see that a dumb animal sees the Angel of the LORD and knows enough to bow in His presence while the ‘seer doesn’t see.’ We also understand that the money-grubbing prophet acknowledges the superiority of Israel’s God, while the children of Israel were blind to God’s plan. (Ex. 19:5, Deut. 7:6)
Hope shines brightest in the oracles of the pagan prophet. He is a prime example of how God can draw a straight line with a crooked stick. Even though he is wicked, God uses him to further bless His people.
The Angel of the LORD
Balak offers Balaam money to come and curse the children of Israel. He agrees, but God intervenes to make sure he will “not curse the people, for they are blessed.” Num. 22:12 He seems to refuse to go, but it’s probably a ploy to try to get more money to tell Balak what he wants to hear. When it appears Balaam is determined to go to Balak, God intervenes again, this time physically as the Angel of the LORD. We studied the idea of theophanies in a previous study. This seems to be the case here. It’s not merely an angel who appears but someone whose word is used interchangeably with the word of God. (Num. 22:20, 35) Also, both the donkey and eventually, Balaam bow down before him. He also has the power of life and death in His hand. He is armed with a sword, which is similar to the Commander of the army of the LORD who appears to Joshua (Josh. 5:13-15) and He tells Balaam that if the donkey hadn’t turned aside, He would have killed Balaam and let the donkey live.
There are three rounds between the donkey and Balaam and the Angel of the LORD. There are three oracles from the prophet, three location changes by Balak, thinking that the probable reason Balaam blessed Israel instead of cursing them was because he didn’t have a good enough view of them. After the first two prophecies, Balak protests.
“Then Balak said to Balaam, ‘What have you done to me? I took you to curse my enemies, and look, you have blessed them bountifully!” Num. 23:11
“Then Balak said to Balaam, ‘Neither curse them at all, nor bless them at all!’” Num. 23:25
After the third, he just walks away, defeated. (Num. 24:25)
The Bible consistently portrays Balaam as a false teacher, greedy for profit. His life provides a warning against covetousness and immorality and reminds us to seek God’s glory above all else.
“Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.” Jude 1:11 This verse condemns murder,(Gen. 4)greed,(Num.20) and rebellion.(Num. 16)
“They have forsaken the right way, and gone astray, following the way of Balaam, son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but he was rebuked for his iniquity; a dumb donkey speaking with a man’s voice restrained the madness of the prophet.” 2 Peter2:15,16
“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.” Rev. 2:14
The Substance of His Prophecies/ The Star and Scepter of Israel
Some key verses:
“How shall I curse whom God has not cursed? And how shall I denounce whom the LORD has not denounced.” Num. 23:8
“God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? Behold, I have received a command to bless; He has blessed, and I cannot reverse it.” Num. 23:19, 20
“For there is no sorcery against Jacob, nor any divination against Israel. It now must be said of Jacob, and of Israel, ‘Oh, what God has done!’” Num. 23:23 This is an interesting comment considering that for his first two prophecies, he had used sorcery. When he realized God was giving him the messages, he didn’t do it for the third. “Now when Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to bless Israel, he did not go as at other times, to seek to use sorcery, but he set his face toward the wilderness.” Num. 24:1
“I see Him, but not now;
I behold Him, but not near;
A Star shall come out of Jacob;
A Scepter shall rise out of Israel,
And batter the brow of Moab,
And destroy all the sons of tumult.” Numbers 24:17
This is agreed to be a Messianic prophesy. We see the star in relation to the birth of Jesus in Matt. 2:1,2 “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came from Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East, and have come to worship Him.’”
This refers both to the star as a marker pointing to the Messiah, and the Scepter, relating to his reign as King of the Jews.

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Jesus as the Red Heifer

13 Nov

red_heifer
Read Numbers 19:1-10
On the surface, this is yet another sacrifice and ceremony. But on closer inspection we find hints of Jesus. It’s another Scarlet Thread.
First, like other sacrificial animals, it had to have no defect and be without blemish. This points to the sinlessness of Christ.
Second, it was given to Eleazar the priest, taken outside the camp and slaughtered before him. It was also burned there. Likewise, Jesus was crucified outside the city of Jerusalem at Golgotha (Calvary). Some of its blood is sprinkled in front of the tabernacle of meeting. After it is burned, a ceremonial clean person gathers up the ashes and stores them outside the camp in a clean place, kept for the congregation, to make the water of purification for the purifying from sin.
This statute was not only for Israel but also for the stranger who dwells among them, pre-figuring the worldwide nature of the gospel.
If the water of purification is not applied, “his uncleanness is still upon him.” It must be applied. Likewise we must be cleansed by Christ. When His side was pierced on the cross, blood and water flowed out. Blood for covering (atonement) and water for cleansing.
As with many types and shadows in the Old Testament, it’s only when the light of the New Testament shines on it that we understand its significance.
Hebrews 9:11-15
“But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”
This is a comparison from the lesser (blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer) to the greater (the blood of Christ). Also from the lesser (the purifying of the flesh) to the greater (to cleanse your conscience). Because of this difference between the old and new covenants, (for this reason) he is the Mediator of the new covenant.

Hebrews 13:11-13
“For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.”
As the heifer was slaughtered outside the camp, Jesus also suffered outside Jerusalem. Since He identified with us in our sin, we ought also to identify with Him in His shame.

Jesus as the Water from the Rock

11 Nov

water from the rock
Read Numbers 20
This event is to be set in contrast to Exodus 17:1-7, when God specifically told Moses to strike the rock, to provide water for the people. God provided this event as a type of our Lord Jesus Christ from whose sacrifice flows pardon, cleansing, eternal life and daily sustenance. This represented the stroke of God the Father on Jesus at Calvary. “The LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Isa. 53:6b That Rock is Christ (1 Cor. 10:4).
In this instance, the children of Israel complain yet again. They contend against Moses and Aaron, yet God sees it as contending against Him. (vs 13) Their complaint included longing for death with their brothers (probably referring to the rebellion of Korah in chapter 16). They forget God brought them out of Egypt, but instead say, “Why have you brought up the assembly of the LORD into this wilderness, that we and our animals should die here?” (vs 5)
They feel they were compelled. “And why have you made us come up out of Egypt, to bring us to this evil place? It is not a place of grain or figs or vines or pomegranates; nor is there any water to drink?” They forget they’re not in the Promised Land yet. And God had given them a foretaste of what is to come with the example of the fruit (grapes, pomegranates and figs) brought back by the spies. (Num. 13:23)
Moses and Aaron leave them and go to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, where the LORD usually meets with them. The door also signifying Christ, who is the Door through whom we access the Father. (John 10:9) They fall on their faces in humility. The glory of God appears to them (probably in the form of a cloud).
Although Moses is instructed to retrieve Aaron’s rod from before the Testimony (Num. 17:10), and go with Aaron before the congregation, he is specifically instructed to “speak to the rock before their eyes; and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals” (whom they were concerned about in verse 4). So far, so good.
Moses and Aaron gather the people together before the rock (still ok), but then instead of speaking to the rock as ordered, he reacts angrily, referring to the people as rebels, and saying, “Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” as if he and Aaron were responsible for the miraculous provision, instead of God.
Moses then strikes the rock twice, (oh-oh), water flows out of it, and they and their animal drink. God still provided for them. This also shows God’s concern for their animals as well as the people. The judgment from God is swift and the sentence is pronounced; to be carried out soon for Aaron, later for Moses.
“Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron” (both were guilty). “Because you did not believe Me to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you (both) shall not bring this assemble into the land which I have given them.” (Num. 20:12) This is the first and last time Moses is disciplined by God.
Aaron is further singled out just before he is brought up onto Mount Hor to die (vs. 25,26). The reason is the same, “Aaron shall be gathered to his people, for he shall not enter the land which I have given to the children of Israel, because you rebelled against My word, at the water of Meribah.” (Num. 20:24) God calls them the actual rebels, even though that was what they called the children of Israel.
Does this punishment seem harsh to you? Do you feel God ‘over-reacted’ to the situation? You would think that if you didn’t understand the reason God was giving this picture to us.
Christ, our Rock is not to be smitten again. His death was sufficient. He said, “It is finished” (accomplished). Speaking to the Rock is equivalent to prayer. We don’t re-sacrifice Him, as the Roman Catholics do in the mass. This resulted in Moses being shut out of Canaan/the Promised Land.
God was determined to give us these two pictures of faith. We first trust in the Rock smitten for us (Isa. 53:4, 1 Cor. 10:4) and then we approach Him by faith in prayer. Even though it would seem that Moses frustrated God’s plan to teach us this, we see by God’s response that the lesson will be taught regardless.
A further reason why Moses could not enter the Promised Land is because he represented the Law, and the law cannot inherit the promises of God. It had to be Joshua, who represented Yeshua/Jesus, who would bring His people into the Promised Land.
“For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:17
“But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.” Rom. 7:6
“For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Rom.8:3,4
“Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.” Acts 13:38,39
“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” Rom.10:4
Jesus is the Rock, and He is the Water from the Rock. In the book of Isaiah 55:1,2 prefigures the free offer of the gospel.
“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance.”
Jesus applies this to Himself and the Holy Spirit when he says, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me, and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. But this He spoke concerning the Spirit whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” John 7:37-39
“And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” Rev. 22:17
Jesus is the water of life. He provided a way for us to have this water when He, the Rock was smitten on the cross. Now that we have this living water in us, we speak to the Rock in prayer.

 

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