#37 07/04/20 Balak

Updated: Jul 4, 2020

12th of Tamuz, 5780

Shabbat Shalom!

Welcome to our study of Parasha Balak (Destroyer).

Balak (Destroyer)

· Numbers 22:2–25:9

· Micah 5:6–6:8

· 2 Peter 2:1–22

“And Balak [בָּלָק] the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites.” (Numbers 22:2)

Last week’s Parasha (Torah Portion) ended with Israel seeking to pass through the land of the Amorites on their way to the Promised Land. The Amorites responded with war, but with YAH's help, Israel defeated them.

In this week’s Parasha, we see the overpowering strength of ELOHIM’s blessing on Israel. When Balak, the king of Moab, sent a sorcerer named Balaam to curse Israel, he found that he could not do so.

Although Balaam was commissioned to pronounce a curse over Israel, he found that he could only issue a blessing instead, saying, “How shall I curse whom YAH has not cursed?” (Numbers 23:8)

Many might come against the nation of Israel, but no one can curse those whom ELOHIM HIMSELF has blessed!

The Moabite King Balak, whose name means ‘waste’ or ‘to lay waste’, wanted to lay waste the nation of Israel. To his dismay, he found that he was unable to do so because of YAH’s blessing upon her.

Why did King Balak feel so threatened by Israel that he felt the need to have her cursed?

It is because Balak, along with his elders, had heard of the Israelites stunning victories over the mighty enemies of Sihon and Og.

Therefore, deciding that it would be too risky to fight Israel directly, they hired a “spiritual mercenary,” Balaam, who was a heathen sorcerer, to put a “hex” on their enemies. Although we may consider this an ancient superstition, many practice such magic even today.

For instance, in the United States there exists a form of Louisiana Voodoo also known as New Orleans Voodoo. It is rooted in West African Dahomeyan Vodun, which came to the American south through the slave trade.

The Bible strictly forbids the people of YAH to practice such sorcery; neither are we to seek guidance from astrologers, sorcerers, psychics, or those who consult with the dead:

“When you come into the land which YAHUVEH your ELOHIM is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead.

For all who do these things are an abomination to YAHUVEH, and because of these abominations YAHUVEH your ELOHIM drives them out from before you. You shall be blameless before YAHUVEH your ELOHIM. For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, YAHUVEH your ELOHIM has not appointed such for you.” (Deuteronomy 18:9–13)

As the world becomes darker and more terrifying, many people seek guidance and comfort from sorcerers and others skilled in the occult arts, but as YAH’s people we are to “come out from among them and be separate.” (2 Corinthians 6:17)

The adversary of humankind seeks to deceive and enslave us through a variety of methods: false doctrines mixed with true doctrines, false religions, and fleshly temptations through spiritists, books, TV, and more.

But those who follow YAHUSHUA actually have an advantage that is superior to any of those methods. Believers have the RUACH HAKODESH to lead and guide them into all truth; therefore, they do not need to stumble around in the kingdom of darkness looking for direction from those who serve the evil one.

YAHUVEH promises that if we seek HIM with all of our heart, we will find HIM (Jeremiah 29:13), and that those who are HIS Sheep will hear HIS voice (John 10:27).

He has not left us to our devices wondering which way we should go.

The Power of the Tongue

Even though most people in today’s modern, Western culture do not purposefully engage in placing curses on others, people frequently and unknowingly affect others in a negative sense with their words.

The Bible tells us that the power of life or death is in our tongue (Proverbs 18:21); therefore, we need to be deliberate when we speak about or over other people, ensuring that our words are constructive and lifegiving.

Not everyone has been so privileged to have blessings spoken over their life, especially as a child. All too often we hear parents, teachers, and children speak appallingly ungodly words over others.

These negative words can pierce the heart and soul. False labels are taken to heart and believed to be true, such as loser, stupid, lazy, hopeless, ugly, bad, worthless, inept, idiot, jerk, brat, or unlovable.

What is the answer to this very real problem? How can we escape the multitude of word curses spoken over us?

The answer is found in YAHUSHUA HAMASHIACH!

Not only do we find unconditional love and acceptance with YAHUSHUA; but also the Blood of the MESSIAH has the power to break every curse that has ever been spoken over us – whether intentionally or out of ignorance.

YAHUSHUA became a curse for us so that we could be redeemed and set free from every curse:

Blessing and Cursing the Jewish People

By taking upon himself the task of cursing the Jews, Balaam entered into Jewish history books as Balaam HaRashah (the Wicked).

Although he called himself a prophet of YAH, he was motivated more by earning a profit with his gift than edifying, warning, teaching, and blessing others with it.

Some consider his name to mean ‘without a nation or people’ (bli – am), suggesting that by going to curse Israel, he became excluded or cut off from a place in the World to Come, Olam haBah.

The reality that Balak and Balaam ignored is that YAHUVEH has promised to bless those who bless the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and to curse those who curse us. (Genesis 12:3)

How many people or nations are cutting themselves off from a blessing and a place in Heaven by attempting to curse the Jews?

Although Balaam possessed legendary powers, they were tiny compared to YAH’s power.

Three times Balaam tried to curse Israel, and three times he involuntarily blessed them instead.

Why has Israel survived against all odds even till today?

It is because of YAH’s covenantal promise to the seed or offspring of Israel:

“Thus says YAHUVEH, who gives the sun for a light by day, the ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night, who disturbs the sea, and its waves roar YAHUVEH of Hosts is HIS Name: ‘If those ordinances depart from before ME,’ says YAHUVEH, ‘then the seed of Israel shall also cease from being a nation before ME forever.’” (Jeremiah 31:35–36)

Even though YAH has made the survival and ultimate salvation of Israel secure, Psalm 83 prophesies that in the Last Days, a confederacy will be formed before our very eyes that intends to wipe out the name of Israel forever:

“They have taken crafty counsel against YOUR People, and consulted together against YOUR sheltered ones. They have said, ‘Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.’” (Psalm 83:3–4)

There is only one way that Israel may be defeated; that is, through her own sin – by turning away from YAHUVEH.

This is what happened to the people of Israel in this Parasha. Although Balak and Balaam failed in bringing a curse upon Israel, they brought destruction upon themselves by committing sexual immorality with the Moabite women and worshiping their god, Baal-Peor.