Messianic Confirmation through a Gentile


Last week we examined prophecies related to the 1st Coming of Messiah under the heading of ‘Waiting For Messiah’. We saw the promise of a God-Man redeemer in Genesis 3:15, Eve’s misapplication of God’s promise in Genesis 4:1, Lamech’s misapplication in Genesis 5:29, and the narrowing of the promise through Abraham’s seed in Genesis 22:18 and through the tribe of Judah in Genesis 49:10. This week we will continue that study to show the breadth of God’s preparation of the Jews and the world for the coming of His Son.

We will begin by looking at God’s promise delivered to non-Jews through the pagan prophet Balaam in Numbers 24:17. After 40 years of wandering in the desert under Moses’ leadership and just before they entered the land of Canaan under Joshua’s command, the pagan king Balak attempted to commission the pagan prophet Balaam to pronounce a curse on the people of Israel. In Numbers 23 and 24 we see God intervene and prohibit Balaam from cursing Israel and instead give a blessing over Israel – a move that greatly angered Balak. But it is interesting to see God’s witness to non-Jews regarding the coming of Messiah:

NAU Numbers 24:17 “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; A star shall come forth from Jacob, A scepter shall rise from Israel, And shall crush through the forehead of Moab, And tear down all the sons of Sheth.

NIV Numbers 24:17 “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel. He will crush the foreheads of Moab, the skulls {17 Samaritan Pentateuch (see also Jer. 48:45); the meaning of the word in the Masoretic Text is uncertain.} of {17 Or possibly Moab, batter} all the sons of Sheth. {17 Or all the noisy boasters}

KJV Numbers 24:17 I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth. {smite…: or, smite through the princes of}

Four hundred and seventy years after Jacob’s family moved to Egypt where he pronounces the leadership blessing on the tribe of Judah, an ‘outside the nation’ confirmation of Jacob’s prophecy is made through a non-Jewish source. Balaam, who was probably confused by what he was saying since he did not have Genesis 49:10 as a reference point, prophesizes that Messiah (when He comes) will be a unique and powerful king who will rule over Israel. More than likely it was this prophecy that Babylonian astrologers used to look for the ‘star’ that guided them to Bethlehem when Messiah was born 1,000 years later.

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