Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 1 * BOOK 9
DEUTERONOMY 26-34: JOSHUA 1-4: RAHAB
We’ll pick up where we left off last lesson, and hopefully these next four lessons finish up to the end of Israel’s history. And she goes into the Babylonian captivity. And that will bring us up to the Book of Daniel. And then we will finally begin to teach prophecy. But for now, we don’t want to skip too much. I’m already skipping a lot for sake of time. So go with me now to Numbers Chapter 22. I have drawn a make-shift map on the board. I don’t claim that this is according to scale, but it gives you a rough idea of the Mediterranean Sea coast.
The little land of Israel, between the coast and the Sea of Galilee, and the Dead Sea. Of course just off the corner of the Dead Sea is the city of Jericho, and Jerusalem is just a few miles inland. So this is all real close together. It’s only about 40 miles from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan Valley. Israel is a tiny little strip of land. Down here at the southern part of Israel is Kadesh, where they sent in the 12 spies. And as a result of their unbelief God sends them back into the Sinai for 40 years of wandering.
If you want to get an idea of how many times they took down that Tabernacle, packed it up and moved out, you read Numbers Chapter 33. That Chapter gives the whole list of their stops. But remember that was 39 years plus. As you will see in the next four lessons, they will come out of the Sinai, and come around in circuitous route, through Moab, and they will end up coming into the Promised Land, not from the closest route, but clear around the Dead Sea just opposite Jericho. There they crossed the Jordan River, and just five miles from that river is the city of Jericho, which was their first conquest. There are very few average church goers who understand that Israel did not come in from the south.
But for now, they are in this area of Moab, and they have just come out of their 40 years of wandering. And when the King of Moab saw that multitude of Israelites, he knew there was nothing he could do militarily, so he said there is only one way that I can defeat these people. He had heard of what their God had done for them, so he knew it would have to be in the area of a spiritual curse. He knows he can’t do it; his armies can’t do it. But he must somehow put a curse on these people. As a result, he knows that there is an enchanter, a man of divination, out there in Mesopotamia, to the east. And he is known for his enchantments. So he called him, to put a curse on the children of Israel.
Now the main reason I stop and take an hour or two in teaching Balaam, is to point out two basic facts. Number one, I wasn’t kidding when I said there was from 3-7 million children of Israel. We will see that in the text. Secondly, to see how Balaam is the perfect example of false teachers. And if ever there has been a day that we need to be aware of false teachers, it is today. We are just being overwhelmed by it from every direction. People who spout off at what they think The Word says. And too many people are just simply being brainwashed without realizing that a lot of this stuff does not come from The Book. And so that is why I’m going to stop and take these moments of time to study Balaam.
Now Numbers 22. I know that I read more than other teachers do, but I’m not going to apologize for it. Because even in our mail, we have lot’s of people comment how the Scriptures have been opened to them even while I read. I don’t know why that is, but it even happens in my classes. I’ve had people over and over say, “I had just read that this afternoon, yet when you read it, I understood what it says.” But remember that is not my doing. For some reason the Lord has seen fit to bless that aspect. Someone will say, “How can you teach classes two hours a night, five nights a week from different areas of the Bible.” My stock answer is, “You don’t know how much time I spend reading.” I don’t have to have a lot of notes when I read to people.
“And the children of Israel set forward, and pitched in the plains of Moab on this side (east of) Jordan by Jericho. And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites.”
They have already fought battles down in the Sinai, one of which was with the Amorite Tribe which they utterly destroyed. They didn’t have radio, television or telephones back then; just word of mouth. As the camel caravans went from Egypt to Mesopotamia, don’t think they were any different from people today. They gossiped, and told everything they knew and had seen. So, by the time the Israelites get to Moab, the Moabites had heard all the things that had happened to these children of Israel. All the way back to their exodus, really, as we will see when we get into Joshua.
“And Moab was sore afraid of the people, because they were many (many of you may think maybe 5000 or so would look like many in that day in time. Don’t you kid yourself.): and Moab was distressed because of the children of Israel.
“And Moab said unto the elders of Midian. `Now shall this company lick up all that are round about us, as the ox licketh up the grass of the field….'” He sent messengers therefore unto Balaam (Balaam is this false prophet we will be talking about) the son of Beor to Pethor (that was out to the east of Moab), which is by the river of the land of the children of his people(Euphrates. He is going to call Balaam saying), `Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt: behold, they cover the face of the earth, and abide over against me:'”
When he said “they cover the face of the earth,” he meant as far as the eye could see, there was nothing but Israelites. Now what is the average distance to the horizon? Thirteen miles? But as far as old King Balak could see, he saw nothing but the children of Israel. Let me show you another verse. Drop down to verse 11:
“Behold, there is a people come out of Egypt, which covereth the face of the earth: come now, curse me them (so I can defeat them); peradventure I shall be able to overcome them, and drive them out.”
So, Balak makes this offer to Balaam of tremendous wealth. He will give him almost anything if he will only curse these Israelites; and by virtue of the curse, God will turn His back on them. Balak just wants to somehow bring the Israelites to a place where God would destroy them. We are going to find when we go to the New Testament there were some things Balaam just didn’t understand. In spite of her wickedness and sins, Balaam didn’t understand that the Grace of God would always overcome Israel’s shortcomings. He thought God should curse them. We will look at it in a bit.
Let’s go to Chapter 23. Remember King Balak is still working on old Balaam to bring about the curse, and Balaam is having some difficulty. I like to point out as you read these verses that just because the LORD Jehovah is dealing with Balaam and speaking with him on a face to face basis, that does not mean Balaam is a valid prophet. He is a false prophet. I have to emphasize that because I can remember back several years ago I had Sunday School material which was trying to hold Balaam up as a prophet that had been misguided a little bit, but that he was a true believer. I can’t agree with that one bit. He was a false prophet from day one. He used enchantments, and divination, and depended on the power of Satan to do what he did. He was not an Israelite, and not a valid prophet. So Balak takes Balaam up to a high place:
“And Balak said unto him, `Come, I pray thee, with me unto another place, from whence thou mayest see them: thou shalt see but the utmost part of them (you still can’t see them all),and shalt not see them all: and curse me them from thence.'” And he brought him into the field of Zophim, to the top of Pisgah,…”
That was a very high mountain, and even then he could not see the end of the children of Israel. Remember when we were back in Exodus, and they came out of Egypt. I told you all you have to do is look in the Book of Numbers, and see how many men of war this little nation would be able to put in the field, and that was over 600,000 and remember that was a very small percentage of the total. If you start figuring there were 600,000 young, single men between the age of about 20-30 years of age, you would have to have a population of about 3-5 million to bring about that number of young men. I want you to see that we are not dealing with just a few thousand people, but rather a multitude of Israelites. So God is bringing them around opposite the Jordan River and no wonder old King Balak thought he needed help. But instead of Balaam staying home, when he received the message, he goes to King Balak, because he can see all the wealth of Moab that is being offered to him just for putting a curse on these Israelites.
Let’s go back to the New Testament for a little bit. We haven’t had time to read all that went on between Balaam and Balak. But Remember the King had offered old Balaam just about anything he wanted. But God immediately told Balaam, “Don’t do it!” And old Balaam converses with Jehovah. And finally Balaam tells Balak, that he can’t curse them because Jehovah is blessing them. And Balak gets all upset. But remember old Balaam has another plan. Now the New Testament gives us a perfect description of the man in three separate categories. The first one is here in II Peter Chapter 2, and the whole Chapter, as does the little Book of Jude which deals with false teachers. We are being warned that they will come on the scene in the last days. And believe me we are seeing them. They are coming from every direction and every hue and color. The average believer and church member today is totally confused. they don’t know what is right or wrong. How can they sift out all this rubbish. I think that is one of the problems with our beloved nation, is that the people of our nation have just lost all concept of the truth of God’s Word. Now let’s look at how Balaam is described back here in II Peter Chapter 2:
II Peter 2:13
“And (the false prophets) shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceiving while they feast with you:” See what they are doing? They are fellowshipping with church people, but they are filled with false teaching.
II Peter 2:14
“Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling (confusing, deceiving) unstable souls (when the Scripture uses adultery, it does not always mean physical, sexual adultery. Many times it is mixing paganism with true Biblical truth. That is adulterating the Word of God. And these people are masters of that. Do you see why I’m always emphasizing that people have to be taught? Otherwise they’re going to be blown away like Paul says, “With every wind of doctrine.” ): an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children:” Now verse 15:
II Peter 2:15
“Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness:
Remember what I said? Why couldn’t he refrain from going back to Moab and cursing those people? He saw the wealth he could gain by confusing the issue. And aren’t we seeing the same thing today. How many people are using the Word of God to line their own pockets. I think it is just as much an abomination in God’s sight as anything else you can think of. They are using God’s Word for profit. That’s why I maintain to this day, that I won’t take a dime out of this ministry. I know pastors and preachers are due their salaries, and I’m not taking that away from them. I’m talking about people who use the Word of God for no other reason but to enhance their own financial state. That is Balaamism. Balaam was in it for one reason and that was to line his own pockets. That is the way of Balaam. He wanted to cash in on his particular gift, which happened to be divination and enchantments.
Now when you get to the New Testament, you have the same thing. Paul had to confront more than once the workers of Satan, who were constantly confronting the apostle as he was going into those pagan areas with the Gospel. Now let’s also turn on over to the little Book of Jude. And here we have a second description of Balaam. The Book of Jude is almost a carbon copy of II Peter, and he too warned about false teachers:
“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation (in other words Jude had intended to write just a little letter concerning the plan of salvation. But the Holy Spirit forbade him to do that. Instead he says), it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith (the one and only. And we are to earnestly contend. We are not to be obnoxious, but we are to take a stand on what we believe, and help people to see that this is the Truth, the Word of God. I never try to shove it down peoples throat. We can’t do that. But on the other hand we must stand for what we know The Word is telling us.) which was once delivered unto the saints.'”
“For there are certain men crept in unawares (nobody knows what they are up to. They can come into a denomination, or local church, and they are so deceptive that the average church member doesn’t know what they are doing.) who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” He is going to explain how these false teachers are going to operate. Now skip down to verse 10:
“But these (false teachers) speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beast, in those things they corrupt themselves. Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain (remember Cain’s problem was no faith), and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward,…”
What was this error of Balaam? He thought that if he could get Israel to lose her separated position with Jehovah, and get them to sin openly, what would God have to do? Curse them. We are going to see that he succeeded. That was the error. Let’s turn to Revelation Chapter 2. Here we are in the seven letters to the seven churches, and here in that letter to the church at Pergamos Jesus is speaking and he says in verse 14:
“But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine (Peter called it the way, Jude called it the error, and here Jesus calls it the doctrine, or the teaching of Balaam. And what does Balaam teach? That they could commit fornication and lose their separated state, and it wouldn’t hurt them) of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.”
Now let’s go quickly to the Book of Numbers again, Chapter 25. Now some time has gone by and God hasn’t permitted Balaam to get away with it. But on the other hand he did get away with it.
“And Israel abode in Shittim and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.” Do you see what they were doing? They were breaking down the separated state. And now to Chapter 31. Why did the Israelites begin to commit immorality with the Moabites? Moses tells us here in verse 16:
“Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD.”