Pastoral Commentary for Numbers 24:15-26:22
Author: Pastor Bob Nordlie
Balaam's fourth oracle has traditionally been interpreted as a Messianic prophesy. "I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near: a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel." These words are related to Jacob's blessing of Judah which was also Messianic: "The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his" (Genesis 49:10). While their initial fulfillment came through David, in Revelation 22:16 Jesus himself tells us that He is the fulfillment of this prophecy: "I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star." Sadly, Moab proved to be snare for Israel. Men of Israel engaged in sexual immorality with Moabite women in a form of pagan idolatry, and God sent a plague on His people that killed 24,000. The plague came to an end only after Phineas a priest put to death by the spear an Israelite man and a Midianite woman (the Midianites were the allies of Moab) who were guilty of immorality in the very presence of Moses and the assembled people of God. After this, God commanded that another census should be taken of Israel before entering the Promised Land. This would prepare them militarily for the conquest and help determine the apportionment of the land.