3.48 Numbers -- Significance of Balaam's Oracles
After some final pessimistic words for other nations, reaching even to Assyria in the far future, Balaam went home. There is a comedic note in these oracles, the counterpoint of Balak trying to bribe Balaam to utter a curse, Balaam apologetically lavishing blessings on Israel, the donkey being more perceptive of God's Presence than the prophet. God took great care to protect His word: Balaam was put on a very short leash as to what he could say. These oracles, coming as they do from "outside the camp," function somewhat like a Greek chorus. They comment on the characters in the play. The contrast between the current deplorable state of Israel and what Balaam foresaw has already been pointed out. Taken together, these remarkable prophecies form a snapshot of God's attitude to Israel and His plan for history.
At this point, the God has given three prophetic "deposits" to explain what He is doing in history:
a. the promises to the patriarchs -- they shall have countless descendants, a homeland, all nations will be blessed through them.
b. God's words and deeds through Moses -- all of which have an immediate application to the Exodus and entry into Canaan.
c. Balaam's oracles -- the great destiny of Israel, despite appearances to the contrary.
These form three foundation stones of Israel's identity, and of the content of Biblical faith. It does no good to profess a Jewish or Christian affiliation, and ignore or contradict them. We are confronted with a nation that is set apart for all time from the common run of mankind, and in whose midst is a king who gives them victory over their enemies. No sorcery, no divination, can prevail against God's plan for Israel.