Balaam Revisited

Some of today's televangelist "prophets" need a wise donkey to forbid their madness. They are busily interpreting Daniel and the Revelation, predicting what is going to happen on the world stage, especially in the Middle East. They name names not called in Scripture and state positive times when the Book clearly says nobody knows the time but the Father. Since all this is done subjectively and with personal spins, not many of them agree which tends to undercut their credibility. They creatively mix truth and error which results in at best a waste of time and at worst, dangerous teaching. They do seem to cling, however, to one common error. They equate somehow ancient geopolitical Israel with the nation that is called Israel now, and they attach great significance to the linkage and make it an important part of their prognostications.

The Old Testament nation of Israel was chosen by God to be the people through whom the Messiah would come - the fact attested to by prophet after prophet from the beginning. They were indeed chosen, guarded, set apart and very special to God, and the Old Testament records the history of that up-and-down relationship. When, however, in the fullness of time, the Savior was born, lived, died, arose and ascended back to the Father's right hand, the specialness of the nation of Israel departed. It had served its divinely-appointed purpose by being the physical human genealogical background for Christ Jesus the Lord to make His entry into the world. After Pentecost, the people of God then became spiritual Israel: made up of "every person out of every nation who fears God and works righteousness" (Acts 10:35). This lesson was a hard one for the Jewish Peter to learn, but after the sheet was let down three times, he became convinced that indeed God was no respecter of persons (or nationalities). The Colossian letter tells us that the old law was nailed to the cross. The writer of Hebrews tells us the old was fulfilled and removed to make way for a new and better way with better promises and a High Priest who died for our sins once for all. The Galatian letter says, "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (3:27, 28) In other words, these have become spiritual Israel, God's people since the cross. No one now has an advantage because of any physical attribute: not geography, not nationality, not even a physical relationship to the man Christ Jesus as in the case of His mother and brothers. See Matthew 12:48-50.

The heritage and physical boundary lines of ancient Israel are of historical significance only. Spiritual significance was nailed to the cross and swallowed up in the larger concept of the blood of Jesus making all people equal in God's sight, and offering salvation through obedience, to every earthly inhabitant regardless of national origin. The Great Commission attests to God's intent that all shall have a chance to be redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; and He is longsuffering toward us not willing that any be lost.

The political entity that we call Israel today is just one of the world's nations with no more and no less significance in the scheme of things than any other nation. Spiritual Israel figures in prophecy, not the physical country of Israel. Scripture is very clear. People who continue to misunderstand and to teach others so, share in Balaam's error. We are aware that this essay may be considered the bray of a donkey. So be it. Incidentally, the story of Balaam's smart ass can be found in Numbers 22:21ff.

Aline Edson

Published in The Old Paths Archive (