Numbers 23, Psalms 64-65, Isaiah 13, 1 Peter 1

DateVersionReading Plan
@May 14, 2024ESV (2016)M’Cheyne Plan 2024

Numbers 23

Numbers 23:7–8 (ESV) 7 And Balaam took up his discourse and said, “From Aram Balak has brought me, the king of Moab from the eastern mountains: ‘Come, curse Jacob for me, and come, denounce Israel!’ 8 How can I curse whom God has not cursed? How can I denounce whom the LORD has not denounced?

Continuing from the previous chapter, Balak had told Balaam to curse Jacob (referring to Israel), but the LORD put a word in Balaam’s mouth as to what he should speak. Rather than a curse, Balaam announced a blessing on Israel. As His chosen people, God had blessed Israel and thus His word through Balaam could not be a curse. This showcases of the immutability of God to remain steadfast in upholding blessing on those whom He chooses. It is a quality of God that is as true today among His elect as it was for others chosen throughout history.

Psalms 64-65

Psalm 65:5–8 (ESV) 5 By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas; 6 the one who by his strength established the mountains, being girded with might; 7 who stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples, 8 so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs. You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.

David reflects on the awesomeness of God who expresses His supremacy in expansive hope, unsurpassed strength in establishing the mountains and who is able to still the roaring waves of the sea. All of this to bring a response of awe at His signs, even to those at the ends of the earth. How wonderful it is to read this and be reminded of the sheer grandeur of our God; to be in utter awe of Him and His majesty.

Isaiah 13

Isaiah 13:4–5 (ESV) 4 The sound of a tumult is on the mountains as of a great multitude! The sound of an uproar of kingdoms, of nations gathering together! The LORD of hosts is mustering a host for battle. 5 They come from a distant land, from the end of the heavens, the LORD and the weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole land.

The LORD speaks an oracle through Isaiah that Babylon would be overthrown by a host mustered for battle from a distant land. As we know from history, the conquering of Babylon happened through a combination of the Medes and the Persians in 539 B.C. This is one of many instances throughout the book of Isaiah that demonstrates his legitimacy as a true prophet of God. Deuteronomy 18:20-22 is one of the key passages regarding the validity of prophets:

But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the LORD has not spoken?’— when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.

1 Peter 1

1 Peter 1:17–19 (ESV) 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

Peter is clear in his discourse that God’s people were ransomed from their former futile ways not with imperishable things but with the precious blood of Christ. The preciousness of Christ’s blood is contrasted against silver or gold and shown to be far surpassing. Gold is the most frequently mentioned metal in the Bible was highly valued even from the earliest of times. To use these materials as a comparative analog is a means to say that nothing can match the inimitable worth of the blood of our Lord.

Carson on Numbers 23

If God blesses his people, no curse against them can stand. And since God is the source of this oracle, this is God’s view of things — and our great ground of confidence and hope.

Similar to my reflection above, God’s blessing of His people means that no curse can stand against them. As God says in Exod. 33:19b, “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” Where God declares grace and mercy, every threat of their overturning is ultimately powerless.