the oracle of the man whose eye is opened,
the oracle of him who hears the words of God,
and knows the knowledge of the Most High,
who sees the vision of the Almighty,
falling down with his eyes uncovered:
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;
it shall crush the forehead of Moab
and break down all the sons of Sheth. - Numbers 24:15-17, ESV
Balaam responds to Balak's anger with firm and clear resolve: " Then, Balaam gives Balak one final word, one about the distant future, "the latter days."
In this fourth and final oracle, Balaam foresees a great ruler coming forth from Jacob, specifically referring to "a star" which will "rise in Jacob's house." The language here is interesting and fascinating, because Balaam comes from what will eventually become Babylon, which will later be conquered and ruled by Persia. If Balaam was indeed a world-famous prophet, as he seems to be, it would make sense that he would record his oracles and that these oracles would be preserved for future generations, copied and transmitted by scribes and kept in libraries.
Could it be that Balaam's oracle of the star rising in Jacob's house was in the libraries available to certain magi from the East many centuries later? Could they have read the oracles of Balaam and seen this line about this powerful star-sign? Maybe these words, combined with their observations of the stars, led them on their journey to Jerusalem to look for this one who would bear the scepter from Israel and win victory over the enemies of God's people.
Whether the wise men were led to Jesus by the oracle of Balaam or not, we know that Balaam foresaw Jesus in this fourth oracle. He saw the coming of the King of kings almost 1500 years before His birth!
Lord Jesus, You came in the fullness of time, and You reign in supreme and unchallenged authority over all of the nations of the world. Let us worship You with renewed wonder at Your power this Christmas! Amen.
"The Kings of the Earth" is a powerful anthem from Savior: The Story of God's Passion for His People, a modern oratorio by Greg Nelson and Bob Farrell. Here is a video of Steve Green, Larnelle Harris and Steve Amerson performing this stirring song: