Bible Study With Jairus – Numbers 22
Finding Truth Amongst False Prophets and News
Numbers 22:1 (ESV) records, “The people of Israel set out and camped in the plains of Moab beyond the Jordan at Jericho.” This verse paints a perfect picture of the Israelites (who represent our spiritual life) being disturbed and attacked by the Moabites (who represent our flesh) before they captured Jericho (which represents strongholds of the evil spirits). God loves the Moabites, so He ordered Moses not to attack the Moabites (Deuteronomy 2:9). But due to fear, the Moabites were stirred up by the enemy to disturb and curse the Israelites and resist God’s move through the Israelites.
Let me first talk about the Israelites. Of course, they are God’s chosen people. He dwells with them and walks among them. In John 1:14 (ESV), it says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” The dwelling is Jesus Christ, and He is Immanuel which means that God is with us.
The Relations Between the Moabites and Israelites
Paul also said in 1 Corinthians 10:4, “They all drank the same spiritual water; what they drank was the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.” We can see that the rock that followed the Israelites was Christ. So, Christ, the spiritual rock, went wherever the Israelites went. God’s dwelling went wherever the Israelites went.
Thus, the Israelites’ process of leaving Egypt, passing through the wilderness, and entering the Promised Land was to defeat the Canaanites who occupied God’s Promised Land. The Canaanites represent the evil spirits and the strongholds they set up in us. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 10:4 (ESV), “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” Although the Israelites camped in the plains of Moab and were so close to Moab, the Israelite’s battle was not against the Moabites but the stronghold of Jericho.
Deuteronomy 2:9 (ESV) records what God said to Moses. Moses said, “The Lord said to me, ‘Do not harass Moab or contend with them in battle, for I will not give you any of their land for a possession, because I have given Ar to the people of Lot for a possession.'” This verse clearly shows that God does not want the Israelites to fight against the Moabites. Why? As this verse indicates, the Moabites are descendants of Lot and relatives of Abraham, so God does not want a war between the Israelites and Moabites.
The second is the spiritual reason I mentioned above. God knows that Israel’s enemy is Jericho, the Canaanites and the evil spirits, and the power of the ruler of the air represented by the Canaanites. As Paul said, our enemies are the spiritual forces of evil. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (ESV, Ephesians 6:12).
But why is it that the Moabites were afraid and even hired Balaam to curse the Israelites? Deuteronomy 2 did not specifically mention the reason why when God told Moses not to attack the Moabites. But it noted that they would feel fear when God ordered Moses not to attack Edom. Deuteronomy 2:4-5 (ESV) records that, “Command the people, “You are about to pass through the territory of your brothers, the people of Esau, who live in Seir; and they will be afraid of you. So be very careful. Do not contend with them, for I will not give you any of their land, no, not so much as for the sole of the foot to tread on because I have given Mount Seir to Esau as a possession.” This verse clearly shows that Edom and Moab could not help but be afraid because there were so many Israelites. For example, it was recorded in Numbers 22:3 (ESV) that “Moab was in great dread of the people because they were many. Moab was overcome with fear of the people of Israel.” Fear often propels us to make wrong decisions. It also makes us lose our peace and faith and even lose our ability to understand and accept God’s words.
Fear Can Be Stronger Than Faith at Times
If the Moabites lived in faith and not fear, they should know that God loved them. If they knew what God was telling Moses, they shouldn’t be fearful. Instead, they would feel grateful for God’s love and mercy. But fear will make us do things that are out of the ordinary. The Christians of today are much like the ancient Moabites when it comes to fear affecting decision-making. How many times have Christians made wrong choices or missed God’s Word because of unnecessary fear?
In other words, Moab doesn’t need to be afraid. I’ve said many times before that God’s intention is to kill all of the evil spirits represented by the Canaanites. Part of this is to take a detour and slowly deal with the Moabites and the Edomites, who represent the mortal flesh. The former is the work of the deliverance ministry, and the latter is the work of the cross. You can cast out the evil spirits, but you can’t cast out the flesh. The flesh needs to slowly be changed by the work of the cross.
God’s Love for the Moabites
If you read the latter judgments against the Moabites in the Old Testament, for example, Amos 2:1 (ESV) says, “Thus says the Lord: “For three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment.” We see that God wants to judge or deal with Moab instead of killing them all. Jeremiah 48:11-12 (ESV) says, “Moab has been at ease from his youth and has settled on his dregs; he has not been emptied from vessel to vessel, nor has he gone into exile; so, his taste remains in him, and his scent is not changed.” Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I shall send to him pourers who will pour him, and empty his vessels and break his jars in pieces.” This verse means that just like winemaking, the dregs can only be settled by pouring into wine bottles continuously. But Moab had been at ease for a long time, so the dregs were not removed. So, God wants to deal with Moab, just like pouring wine into wine bottles to settle the dregs.
From these two verses, we can see that God loved Moab and hoped to deal with it. God loved Lot, and He also loved Moab, Lot’s descendant, even though God said, “No Ammonite or Moabite may enter the assembly of the Lord. Even to the tenth generation, none of them may enter the assembly of the Lord forever.” (ESV, Deuteronomy 23:3). Since the Moabites cursed the Israelites and they sinned by fornication, we know that Ruth, the descendant of the Moabites, became the ancestor of Christ. We understand that God loved Moab but hoped to deal with it. This led to why God allowed the Gentile prophet Balaam to prophesy in Moab.
Balaam Is Allowed To Travel to Moab
A lady asked, “In Numbers 22:12, God ordered Balaam not to go to Moab to curse the Israelites, but why is it that in verse 20, it says that Balaam was allowed to go with them, but he could only do what God told him? Later in verses 22-34, why did God try to kill Balaam on the way? God said He would kill Balaam, but why didn’t He kill him in the end? Why did he allow Balaam to go with them in verse 35?” Logically, this sounds a bit confusing, and this lady was looking for answers.
I said, “I will explain this from two perspectives. The first is: God definitely told Balaam not to go, warning him the first time. But Balaam’s heart already wanted to go, so the Lord allowed him to go the second time. It may be likened to Christians today. Sometimes we have already made up our mind in the flesh, and then we pray and ask the Lord whether we can go. One attitude is to humbly wait before God and seek His leading. The other attitude is: I have already decided. I’m just informing the Lord when I’m praying. In this case, the Lord may not hinder you. But God still stopped Balaam on the way, which was tantamount to warning him again that he could only say what God wanted him to say.
The other perspective is deeper – God loved Moab. Thus, He was willing to speak to Moab through Balaam. I cited a personal example. When I was learning about the gift of prophecy in the Prophetic Movement, the teachers who taught the gift of prophecy often cited some movies to illustrate how God speaks through movies.
Media Can Speak to Christians and Non-Believers Alike
Movies such as “The Lord of the Rings” or the film and television series adapted from “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” by the well-known British Christian writer C.S. Lewis were the ones cited by them. God often speaks through worldly media or movies. For example, many Chinese people have seen “The Shawshank Redemption” or “Forrest Gump.” These two movies have inspired many Chinese people, including believers and nonbelievers, to have hope, but the movies may not mention God in them. There is even cursing in these movies, but many people have received great encouragement from them. I feel that God speaks to many people through these two movies.
There are two scenes in “Forrest Gump” that left a deep impression on me. The first was when Forrest Gump was a child and had leg braces, but he broke free of his braces while running away from neighborhood bullies. The second was him as an adult running with the football for a touchdown. I feel like God was telling me that one day I will be free from all kinds of shackles holding me back, and I will run and fly in freedom! These scenes deeply inspired me.
God can speak to unclean people through unclean media or channels. Before I was saved, the media I came into contact with and the friends around me were all opportunities for God to speak to me. A friend said that his wife often watched a variety of films and television series and found that the Lord often spoke to her through them.
He said that many religious people might be critical of Christians who watch so many movies and TV, but his wife gets spiritual inspiration from God through it. I know his wife and can attest to his words. She often takes what the Lord shows her and shares the gospel with her Christian friends.
The Tragedies of Balaam
Why would God use Balaam, a Gentile prophet who was flawed and even greedy for wealth later, to speak to Moab? Because this was a way for Moab to trust. God wanted to speak to Moab, but there was no Israelite prophet that had spoken to Moab, and there was no prophet in Moab, so God had to speak to Moab through Balaam, a Gentile prophet. Just as God told Moses directly, He would not give the Moabites land to the Israelites; God also told the Moabites through the Gentile prophet Balaam that Israel was a treasure in His eyes.
The Moabites were told not to curse the Israelites, but they didn’t listen to what God told them through the prophet Balaam. Instead, they tried their best to curse them. In the end, through deception, Balaam enticed the Israelites and Moabite women to commit adultery (Numbers 25:1). God judged Moab by allowing Moses to kill Many Midianites (Numbers 25:17). Through this attack, Balaam was also killed alongside the five kings of Midian.
All of these are a tragedy. Balaam might not have been killed, and the Midianites could have been protected against attacks. Moab could also have avoided the curse of the Lord for ten generations. But all this happened. Why? They didn’t hear what God said through the Gentile Prophet Balaam. President Trump often refers to Left media such as CNN as “Fake News,” but if “fake news” is the only media you listen to, God can use it to speak to you. But you will hear many lies from the enemy as well. The key is how you hear the Holy Spirit’s voice and distinguish the voice of God from the voice of the enemy.
Prophets in the Modern Church
For example, there are many prophets in Charismatic churches. In the past, some prophets prophesied that there would be an earthquake, rapture, or great spiritual revival at a specific time, but it did not happen afterward. Many churches, including the Local Church Movement where I was saved, closed the door on such prophets and prophecies. They think they are unreliable, so they are not taught and promoted in the church. This is a wrong attitude. After I left the Local Church Movement to study in the Pentecostal Movement in 2015, I found that some people in the Pentecostal church did have the gift of prophecy, but some may be false prophets.
Some people who have the gift of prophecy also might make some wrong prophecies. But we should not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Instead, we need to listen and distinguish God’s voice in their prophecies. Balaam here is a Gentile prophet. The Bible calls him a false prophet or a person who betrays for profit, but God still used him to make Israel’s most beautiful prophecy. Numbers 24:17 (ESV) even prophesies that “a star shall come out of Jacob.” This refers to the prophecy of Christ’s coming. You can see God’s genuine prophecy through a false prophet.
If God can speak through Balaam, He can also speak to us through film and television series and through secular media. God can speak to us through unclean people and things in the unclean environment where we live because He is over all and through all and in all (ESV, Ephesians 4:6). Although the things God uses are unclean, God can speak to us through them. God can also use imperfect people, including Balaam or Trump, to speak to us.
God Speaking Through Trump
We cannot disregard God’s words from people because the people God uses -like Balaam or Trump-are imperfect. We must draw lessons from the Moabites in this chapter. Although Trump is imperfect and has many flaws, he is someone who God uses somewhat to suppress the political tendency of the left. Trump was also used to bring the United States back to the foundation of a Christian nation so that churches have room to breathe.
They can use the opportunity to preach the gospel and spiritually grow, and truly revive American society. This is the message that God wants to send to us through Trump. However, if we are hung up on Trump’s flaws or hindered by our preconceptions (for example, the Moabites hope that Balaam will curse the Israelites), it will prevent us from seeing or hearing God’s prophetic voice through Trump.
Unfortunately, many Christians committed the same mistakes as the Moabites. They did not see God’s will. What is the reason for this? The reason is that they live in the flesh like the Moabites. Their motives and intentions (cursing the Israelites) became their veil, but they did not see God’s blessings to the Israelites and how God would bless all nations through the Israelites.
Of course, all nations include the Moabites. Paul said, “So that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.” (ESV, Galatians 3:14). This is what God said to Moab through the Gentile prophet Balaam. In everyday English, what God said was, “Moabites, don’t curse the Israelites because the Israelites are blessed. One day a star shall come out of Jacob – Christ. He will become salvation for all nations.
The blessing of Abraham in Jesus Christ will come to all Gentiles, including you Moabites. One day, you can receive the promised Holy Spirit in Jesus Christ. Moabites, don’t be so stupid; I am blessing you. But I must bless the Jews first. Please listen to what I said to you through Balaam, a Gentile prophet!” But the Moabites’ strong desire and motive to curse the Israelites became their hindrance, preventing them from hearing what God said to them through Balaam. Many Christians’ dislike towards Trump or have different political views than Trump has become their hindrance, preventing them from seeing God’s move on Trump.
Imperfect People, True Prophecies
God can speak valid prophetic words through false prophets. God can use unclean people to speak holy words. God can use the imperfect people around us to complete His perfect plan. Let’s open our eyes and listen to God’s words in everything. On the contrary, because there are too many unclean people, things, and social media channels around us, we must urgently strengthen our fellowship with God. We need to live in close fellowship with God, constantly get rid of false prophets and “fake news” brought by the enemy, and listen to God’s voice.
I said in the meeting that the American church’s situation is like the Moabites – it’s mixed with a lot of things in the flesh. Whether it is the church as a whole or individual Christians, many people live in the flesh.
On the one hand, we are affected by a lot of “fake news” and are deceived many times by evil spirits. On the other hand, because of our flesh – the pain we suffered in history and our bitterness and unforgiveness the evil spirits are given a stronghold, causing many Christians to fall into this situation. Some consider Trump as God’s chosen instrument, but others cannot accept him. Trump’s imperfections, coupled with their preconceptions, such as being portrayed as a racist by left-leaning media, have made some believers unable to accept God’s choice.
Spirits, Not the Flesh, Is the True Enemy
At the end of our meeting, I briefly mentioned that our enemies are not people in the flesh. They are the evil spirits that often influence our flesh to oppose our spirit and God Himself, who lives in our spirit. Therefore, we must enhance our experience of the cross’s work to deal with our flesh and strengthen our spiritual warfare to defeat the Jericho-strongholds. Usually, the place where the enemy distorts us the most or where our flesh is the most attacked becomes the place for us to rejoice after victory.
An example is Rahab, a prostitute in Jericho. She became a prostitute on the wall of Jericho. She was tortured and humiliated, but then she became the one who saved Israel’s spies and a breakthrough in destroying the city of Jericho. She became the ancestor of Christ and married one of the spies, later giving birth to Boaz. Boaz was the father of Obed, Obed was Jesse’s father, and Jesse was the father of David. Jesus Christ was the descendant of David.
I also shared that just as God loved the Moabites, they were also relatives of Israel. Similarly, although God chose Trump, Biden and others are also created by God in His own image. Even if the enemy used many leftists, they are not our enemy. Our enemies are spiritual -evil spirits and dark forces. Those who are used and deceived by the evil spirits urgently need our prayers.
We should pray that God will be able to have mercy on them and that they can repent and eventually enter the Kingdom of God. We must not curse them. Even if some people are sent to prison for committing crimes, we must not kick them when they are down. Instead, we must pray for them. God’s great love has blessed not only the Israelites but also the Moabites. God’s great love not only blesses those who He uses but also saves those who once opposed Him.
This is the inspiration I received from reading this chapter of the Bible. We must draw lessons from the Moabites and be able to hear what God says to us through the unclean or imperfect channels He uses. We must remove our prejudice so that we can hear God’s words through people we may not like.