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Monday, November 27, 2017

Day 2: A Star Will Rise

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 - Numbers 24:16, ESV

In 1967, in Deir Alla, Jordan, archaeologists uncovered a text that had been buried for thousands of years. The text has been determined to be the oldest piece of Aramaic literature in the world, and it tells of a famous prophet of the gods, "Balaam, son of Beor." Thus, we have external archaeological confirmation of our second Advent prophet, who was not an Israelite at all.

Balaam was a gentile prophet hired by another gentile, Balak, the king of Moab, to curse the Israelites as they made their way through the desert wilderness toward the Promised Land. Balaam was reluctant to do so, but he had made a practice of selling his prophetic services for money, and so he went. 

On his way, God enabled Balaam's donkey to speak to him, to warn him and save him from God's judgment. Perhaps this was a way to humble Balaam and remind him of his place. He was famous throughout the Near East, so it would have been natural for him to have a big ego. Yet if God could speak to him through a jack-ass, what did that make him as God's mouthpiece? 

Three times Balak asked Balaam to curse Israel, and three times Balaam had blessed them instead, faithfully speaking the words of the Lord. After these three reversed curses, King Balak was very angry with Balaam, but Balaam said:

Did I not tell your messengers whom you sent to me, If Balak should give me his house full of silver and gold, I would not be able to go beyond the word of the Lord, to do either good or bad of my own will. What the Lord speaks, that will I speak’? And now, behold, I am going to my people. Come, I will let you know what this people will do to your people in the latter days.” - Numbers 24:12-14, ESV

Then Balaam prophecies of the glorious future of the people of God, including the coming of a great ruler over God's people in verse 16. 

Here's a question: How did the wise men from the East know to look for a star to indicate the birth of the great King of the Jews? Could it be that they had a copy of Balaam's prophecy? 

Today's Advent lesson is that God often uses unexpected people in unexpected ways to accomplish His purposes for His people - like a carpenter and his young fiancee, a shepherd-boy overlooked by his own father, and a gentile prophet-for-hire who was given a glorious glimpse of the coming of Christ. Never underestimate your own usefulness in God's kingdom, because it's not about you but Him. On the flip-side, if God has used you to bless and speak to others, don't overestimate your value, because it's not about you but Him!   

Father, Thank You for being so great and so gracious that You use the most unlikely people to accomplish Your purposes. Thank You that Your kingdom is all about Your power and Your glory, which You gracious give to Your people. In Jesus' name, Amen. 

1 comment:

  1. It's not about me but Him! I need this reminder daily.