STANDING BEFORE BALAAM
In Numbers 22, Balak (king of Moab) sent messengers to Balaam (prophet of God) asking him to curse the people of Israel, for they had settled near him and were too mighty for him (v 5-6). Balaam inquired of the LORD and was told that he should not go with Balak’s men, nor should he curse the people, for they were blessed (Numbers 22:12; cf. Genesis 12:3).
Balak sent men a second time to ask Balaam to come (Numbers 22:15). Again, Balaam said he would inquire of the LORD. God had already given an answer! We should learn from Balaam to accept what God has said and not to seek something new or different. This second time, the LORD told Balaam to go, however the events that followed reveal His answer was still “No.” God would use this as an opportunity to teach Balaam.
On his journey to Moab, Balaam’s donkey seemed ornery—she wandered off the road, crushed his foot against a wall, and eventually just laid down under him. She saw what the prophet did not—the Angel of the LORD stood in the way with His sword drawn (Numbers 22:21-27). She saved his life, but he was oblivious. He struck her in anger, and even after she spoke to him (v 28), the clueless prophet said if he had a sword he’d kill her. It was at this point Balaam’s eyes were opened and he saw the Angel of the LORD standing before him with His sword drawn (Numbers 22:31). The LORD rebuked Balaam (v 32) and revealed his donkey had saved his life (v 33). Balaam offered to turn back, if it pleased the LORD, but rather, the LORD told him to go, “…but only the word that I speak to you, that you shall speak” (v 35). Balaam would go to Balak, and each time he was asked to curse the people of Israel, he would listen to the LORD and bless them.
Standing before joshua
After the death of Moses, Joshua became the leader of Israel. He would take them to the land promised by God. Several times, Joshua was told to “be strong and of good courage” (Deuteronomy 31:7, 23; Joshua 1:6-9, 18).
After Joshua had circumcised all the people and the final preparations were being made for them to go into the land to conquer it, on a given day, Joshua was by Jericho, and saw a Man standing opposite him. Notice the text:
And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his
eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His
sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him,
‘Are You for us or for our adversaries?’ So He said, ‘No, but as
Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.’ And
Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him,
‘What does my Lord say to His servant?’ Then the Commander of
the LORD’s army said to Joshua, ‘Take your sandal off your foot,
for the place where you stand is holy.’ And Joshua did so.
Though Joshua was the commander of the armies of Israel, he acknowledged the position truly belonged to the One who stood before him. This was not just a Man, this was the LORD. In response to this wonderful event, Joshua bowed to the ground and worshiped. If this were just an angel or a man, he would have surely been corrected. But, he wasn’t. It was appropriate to worship the Commander of the army of the LORD, for it was the LORD.
The statement, “…the place where you stand is holy…” is like that which was said to Moses when the LORD appeared to him in the midst of a burning bush. Moses was told, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” (Exodus 3:5). What made the ground before Moses and afterward before Joshua holy? They both stood before the LORD God.
We have yet another case of the LORD appearing to man. It was not the Father nor was this the Spirit of God—this was the pre-incarnate Christ; worthy of worship and with authority to command all of Israel.
Balaam saw the Angel of the LORD who had authority to execute the renegade prophet, but also authority to send him on his way to Moab and to instruct him on what he should say. This was not just an angel – this was the Angel of the LORD – the pre-incarnate Christ.
Joshua was ready to engage the Canaanites people in battle as the new leader of Israel. The appearing of the Commander of the Army of Israel was a reminder that god was in charge, not Joshua. The battle is the LORD’s, not man’s. What a comforting thought!
That Joshua worshiped the One who appeared to him reveals this could not be a man or an angel, but it was the LORD, for only god is worthy of worship.