Battles 2 - RR181W42

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Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: Balaams Ass
Course: Course - Numbers; Faith, Law, and History
Subject: Subject:Pentateuch
Lesson#: 42
Length: 0:29:24
TapeCode: RR181W42
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Numbers Faith, Law, and History.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission

Let us worship God. Serve the Lord with gladness, come before His presence with singing. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. Be thankful unto Him and bless His name, for the Lord is good, His mercy is everlasting and His truth endureth to all generations. Let us pray.

Oh Lord, our God, we give thanks unto thee that thou, who art Lord of heaven and earth, art mindful of us, and has for all eternity ordained that we should be thy people. Give us grace therefore, to take hands off our lives, and to commit them into thy keeping, knowing that thy ways are wiser than our ways, and that thy purposes far transcend our own. Give us grace, therefore, so to walk, that in all things we know that thou art He who dost make all things work together for good to them that love thee, to them who are the called according to thy purpose. Bless us as we worship thee. Bless us as we serve thee. In Christ’s name. Amen.

Our scripture is Numbers 22:1-35. Numbers 22:1-35. Our subject: Balaam’s Ass. “And the children of Israel set forward, and pitched in the plains of Moab on this side Jordan by Jericho. And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites. And Moab was sore afraid of the people, because they were many: 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. And Balak the son of Zippor was king of the Moabites at that time.

He sent messengers therefore unto Balaam the son of Beor to Pethor, which is by the river of the land of the children of his people, to call him, saying, Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt: behold, they cover the face of the earth, and they abide over against me: come now therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people; for they are too mighty for me: peradventure I shall prevail, that we may smite them, and that I may drive them out of the land: for I wot that he whom thou blessest is blessed, and he whom thou cursest is cursed. And the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the rewards of divination in their hand; and they came unto Balaam, and spake unto him the words of Balak. And he said unto them, Lodge here this night, and I will bring you word again, as the Lord shall speak unto me: and the princes of Moab abode with Balaam. [00:04:09]

And God came unto Balaam, and said, What men are these

And God came unto Balaam, and said, What men are these with thee? And Balaam said unto God, Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, hath sent unto me, saying, Behold, there is a people come out of Egypt, which covereth the face of the earth: come now, curse me them; peradventure I shall be able to overcome them, and drive them out. And God said unto Balaam, Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed. And Balaam rose up in the morning, and said unto the princes of Balak, Get you into your land: for the Lord refuseth to give me leave to go with you. And the princes of Moab rose up, and they went unto Balak, and said, Balaam refuseth to come with us. And Balak sent yet again princes, more, and more honourable than they. And they came to Balaam, and said to him, Thus saith Balak the son of Zippor, Let nothing, I pray thee, hinder thee from coming unto me: For I will promote thee unto very great honour, and I will do whatsoever thou sayest unto me: come therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people. And Balaam answered and said unto the servants of Balak, If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more. Now therefore, I pray you, tarry ye also here this night, that I may know what the Lord will say unto me more.

And God came unto Balaam at night, and said unto him, If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them; but yet the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do. And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab. And God's anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the Lord stood in the way for an adversary against him.

Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him. And the ass saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field: and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her into the way. But the angel of the Lord stood in a path of the vineyards, a wall being on this side, and a wall on that side. And when the ass saw the angel of the Lord, she thrust herself unto the wall, and crushed Balaam's foot against the wall: and he smote her again. And the angel of the Lord went further, and stood in a narrow place, where was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left. And when the ass saw the angel of the Lord, she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam's anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff. And the Lord opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times? And Balaam said unto the ass, Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee. And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee? and he said, Nay. [00:07:52]

Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw

Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face. And the angel of the Lord said unto him, Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? behold, I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before me: and the ass saw me, and turned from me these three times: unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive. And Balaam said unto the angel of the Lord, I have sinned; for I knew not that thou stoodest in the way against me: now therefore, if it displease thee, I will get me back again. And the angel of the Lord said unto Balaam, Go with the men: but only the word that I shall speak unto thee, that thou shalt speak. So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.”

The story of Balaam was once a pulpit and pew favorite. References to it were not uncommon in public addresses and everyday speech. It is now neglected because the idea of a talking ass or donkey is much ridiculed. It is too great a miracle for modern man supposedly. However, it is our modernists and evolutionists who believe in the truly stupendous and contradictory miracles such as something, an entire universe, originating out of nothing. They believe in the spontaneous generation of life for non-life. They believe that even though radium has a rate of dissipation that would have long since made it disappear, if the earth were more than a few thousand years old, but all the same, it somehow has lasted, and so on and on. Such beliefs require a very great and absurd faith. The God who created all things can make an ass speak.

Israel now faced a powerful and evil nation, Moab. Moab, under King Balak, was determined that Israel should neither pass nor be ignored. Balak was fully aware of the miracles that had surrounded Israel from Egypt to its borders, and it recognized the military prowess of Israel against the realms of Sihon and Og. As a result, knowing also God’s periodic displeasure with and anger against Israel, Balak decided to bring in a non-Hebraic prophet, who like Jethro, was a surviving believer in the true God. So that there were still non-Israelites who continued in the true faith. Balaam was brought, or to be brought, to invoke God’s curse on Israel.

Now Balak’s belief was one common to Antiquity, as well as to our time. Namely, that man can, by some device, prayer or ritual, control God. Some churches have prayer chains, which in itself can be a good idea, that is, sharing concerns, but too often people believe that if enough people pray the right way, God will give them what they want. In other words, if enough prayer votes are cast, God has to change His mind. Our Lord, however, in the Garden of Gethsemane, prayer, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.” [00:12:28]

Balak therefore, sent for the prophet, Balaam

Balak therefore, sent for the prophet, Balaam. He was determined to control and foil God’s purposes. The theoreticians in modern science have like goals, and some call their work “simulations of God” and that’s the title of a book written by a man very, very heavily funded by the federal government, and a man deep into occultism. Balak, whose name means “one who lays waste,” was determined somehow to lay waste Israel. He sent to Pethor, meaning the river, that is the Euphrates, some four hundred miles away to fetch Balaam.

Now Balaam is mentioned three times in the New Testament. Peter says of false believers, in 2 Peter 2:15, that they are those which have forsaken the right way and are gone astray following the way of Balaam, the son of Bosor, who lived the wages of unrighteousness. Our Lord’s brother, Jude, writes in Jude 11, “Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.” Our Lord himself in the letter to the churches in Revelation 2:14 refers to Balaam as a type of the reprobate man, “But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication.”

This presents us with an important fact. Balaam was apparently and always outwardly a true believer until his faith was put to the test. Then his reprobate character became apparent. Balaam experienced miracles and revelations, but he still chose evil. Balaam played a waiting game. When Balak’s men arrived, he asked them to stay overnight while he sought God’s counsel. God made it very clear to Balaam that he was to reject Balak’s wishes. As a result, Balak sent more important men to see Balaam with promises with greater honor and wealth. Balaam said that he could not go if he were given a houseful of gold and silver, but hoping for a loophole in God’s requirements, he asked the delegation to stay overnight while he again inquired of the Lord. He had his own ideas. This time, God told him to go, but not to fulfill Balak’s requirements, but God’s. Well, Balaam started out with two servants, and with his own ideas of how to circumvent God. Balak’s men had apparently hurried ahead with the good news of Balaam’s willingness. Clearly, Balaam was going with devious intentions, not godly ones. [00:16:34]

Irving L. Jensen has pointed out that the Hebrew text makes clear in verse 22 that God knew Balaam’s evil intentions and was angry because of it. Balaam was not going as God’s spokesman, but for his own greedy purposes. Gordon Wenham’s words are very telling here, “This parallelism between Balaam’s and his ass suggest that the ability to declare God’s word is not necessarily a sign of Balaam’s holiness, only that God can use anyone to be his spokesman. Throughout the Bible, prophesy and other ecstatic spiritual gifts are regarded as signs of inspiration, but not necessary of holiness or a right standing with God. False prophets may accurately foretell the future, as in Deuteronomy 13:1-5.” This is a humbling fact. If we will not speak or act for God, He can use a jackass to accomplish His will. We are not as important as we often think we are, and it’s that point that made this text once so popular and so frequently used in every area of life, including politics, because people were want to say that Balaam’s ass could outdo so-and-so.

Well, on his way with his two servants and Balaam riding his donkey, the angel of the Lord barrs the way. He is at first visible only to the donkey, who sees him, sword in hand, and turns aside into the field. Twice this happens. On the second occasion, there is a stone wall on either side, and so as the ass turns aside, Balaam’s foot is crushed somewhat against the wall. ON the third occasion, the walls are too close for him to turn and Balaam’s ass sat down, there being no way to go. Balaam then, in anger, beat the donkey, in a total rage, an unthinking rage because his secret purposes were frustrated. God then gave speech to the ass who protested the beatings. Balaam wished he had a sword in hand to kill the ass, his anger was so great. At this point, God opened Balaam’s eyes to see the angel of the Lord, and he fell flat on his face in fear. Balaam is told, “Thy way is perverse.” Balaam then confessed that he had sinned and he offered to return to his home. God, however, ordered Balaam to go on. “But only the word that I shall speak unto thee, thou shalt speak.” So, Balaam went with the princes of Balak. [00:20:09]

There is an irony in this entire episode in that Moab

There is an irony in this entire episode in that Moab, however evil, was not a Canaanite nation or a part of the promised land. Balak, in fear, anticipated a problem that existed only in his mind. As a result, his own mind and imagination created a problem that ended in disaster. It is interesting, too, that Midian joined with Moab in this fear, and verse 7 tells us that the first delegation to Balaam included elders of Moab and Midian both.

The second delegation included not only more important men, but greater promises. Apparently, on the belief that Balaam’s dignity required a more prominent delegation. Humanistic sensitivity was very much in mind, and hence, diplomatic dignity was offered to Balaam by the coming of the princes, and all this was flattering, very flattering to Balaam, but God, by making himself visible to a jackass before revealing himself to Balaam, mopped the pompous dignity and pretentions of men. It is a strange fact that Jewish scholars such as the great Medieval scholar, Maimonides, and the late chief rabbi of Britain, Dr. J.H. Hertz, have not taken this episode of the talking ass as history, but seen it as a dream of vision, but this makes nonsense of the incident and the text. In verse 34, Balaam says, “I have sinned.” A good example of false convention. There is no specific reference to the true nature of his sin, nor any change of heart. Those who think mere words constitute a valid confession had better remember Balaam. His offer to return home was as hypocritical as his confession.

We are then told in verse 35, “Go with the men: but only the word that I shall speak unto thee, that thou shalt speak.” This is God’s word to all of us. Man, in his stupidity, believes that he can correct or improve God’s word. He believe that his contribution is an essential one, and sad to say, God’s irony in this episode is lost on many, especially in our day. God does not need us. We need Him. God can bring forth wisdom from the mouth of a jackass to confound man. Man in his arrogance, age after age, dreams of surpassing God with his tower of Babel, his new world order, but He that sitteth in the heaven shall laugh. The Lord shall have them in derision. Let us pray.

Our Father, we pray that thou wouldst keep us from the sin of Balaam. Keep us ever faithful. Thy work thou art able to do without us, the very stones as thou hast said will speak if we are silent. Give us grace therefore, to know thy will and to do it. In Christ’s name. Amen. Are there any questions now about our lesson? Yes? [00:24:40]

[Audience] Speaking about asses and meetings, what

[Audience] Speaking about asses and meetings, what do you think about the Middle East conference?

[Rushdoony] Well, I think our Secretary of State has been playing the role of Balaam rather than the ass. He has been very, very foolish. He’s been expecting miracles, where it’s only going to be pressure, cutting off funds that will have any effect. We have a very, very foolish man there who keeps thinking that he can appeal to the good nature of men, and some of the statements have been appalling in their humanism, a belief that somehow, by words, men are going to turn into good people and do the right thing.

[Audience] I think it was most remarkable that southern Lebanon was bound and chilled{?} for six days during the conference without {?}

[Rushdoony] Yes, we are not getting the truth bout what is happening, and I think we will hear even less of the aftermath of the conference because there will be wrath expressed by both sides. Yes?

[Audience] I think it’s interesting that after the first day of the conference, Bush and Baker both left, and Gorbachev, they both left town, and so that they can take credit for the fact that there’s a conference, but they don’t have to take credit, or the negative side if it doesn’t produce anything.

[Rushdoony] A very good point, and the fact that how many is it? Seventeen thousand security men are there? Tells you that it’s not particularly a peaceful meeting, nor do they expect any peaceful results. Yes?

[Audience] I’m probably not the first one to observe it, but I think it’s funny that man cannot accept the idea that God can make wisdom come out of the mouth of a jackass, but they’re perfectly willing to accept people who speak like jackasses.

[Rushdoony] Yes. Yes, we have in all these international conference, had a fair percentage of men who would put a jackass to shame as our spokespersons. Any other questions or comments? Well, if not, let us conclude with prayer. [00:28:03]

Our Father, we thank thee that though the Balaam’s

Our Father, we thank thee that though the Balaam’s and Balak’s of this world seek to have their own way, it is thy will that shall be done. We know, our Father, that again and again, thou hast had thy Balaam’s asses to put the mighty and the proud to shame, and we know that in thy sovereign purpose, this is still true. Give us grace, therefore, to serve thee, to be faithful, to be obedient in all things, and to rejoice in thy government. And now go in peace. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost bless you and keep you, guide and protect you, this day and always. Amen. [00:29:15]

End of tape

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