Moab has taken notice of what Israel has done and they are trembling with fear. They seek an alliance and help from above.
I don’t know how large the camp of Israel was at this time. When they left Egypt they had more than 600,000 men over the age of 20 IN THE TRIBES. This does not take into account the women, children and foreigners in their group. A conservative estimate I read said there were about 3,000,000 souls that left Egypt. That’s a BIG footprint!
But these numbers have been reduced. We have had several incidents where there were a number of deaths. Korah’s rebellion took out a specific group of families and their supporters. The following day God took out many more who complained about His judgement. The illness following the quail took a number of people out. The fiery serpents took their toll on the population. There was also the foolhardy battle where the people tried to force God into going ahead and going into the Promised Land with them. These are just the incidents I can quickly recall where God is winnowing out this current generation from among the people. We are not told how many have died by now but their numbers are still significant enough to frighten the neighbors.
More frightening than Israel’s numbers though is the obvious Power behind them. Moab and Midian are not blind to the spiritual forces around them. They may not understand all that is going on but they believe that the only way to defeat Israel is through spiritual warfare. They don’t know how RIGHT they are!
Here is something that makes me smile when I think about it. It is the fact that they send for help from someone who is plugged into the SAME source as the people they are afraid of. They will use every tool they have, even borrowing from a “neighboring toolbox” to stop Israel in their tracks.
Something else that got my attention is the fact that Balaam is NOT part of Israel yet he knows the same God they do. This is not the first time we have met someone outside Israel who worshiped the One and Only God. Moses’ father in law, Jethro, served the Lord. Now we meet Balaam who has amassed a reputation for his spiritual life. It is known far and wide that Balaam serves a God who is real.
Balaam KNOWS to bring all requests to the Lord. He didn’t look in some tea leaves or decipher a mess of entrails. He took his “job opportunities” to the Lord. He could have looked at the dollar signs and taken the job without seeking the Lord’s approval. But he didn’t. I’m betting that the reason for his holding back is the relationship he has with the Lord. He had a personal relationship with God regardless of the fact that he wasn’t of the line of Abraham. And he valued it above all else!
God didn’t shut out those who were seeking to know Him just because they didn’t belong to “His people.” He meets each person where they are, watches them and helps with growth. Balaam was at a pretty high place in his growth process. God was able to speak with him and know that His messages were getting through. But He also knew Balaam’s heart. He knew Balaam really wanted this ”gig” but not enough to cross God. Fortunately God told him he could go after all but ONLY to say what He gave him.
Father God, thank You that Your family isn’t “exclusive” by the world’s standard thinking. It is exclusive spiritually though. Jesus is the ONLY way in. No other route will get you into His presence. Nothing is worth giving up that relationship either! I’m glad Balaam was a good listener and knew what was truly valuable.