Balaam - the Second Parable
Numbers 23:23
Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel…

We may look upon Balaam here as representing the Satanic powers that have ever been plotting and working against the kingdom of God among men, and as the unwilling prophet of their ultimate defeat. The spell of a higher Power is over him, and he cannot do the thing that he would. Looking down from "the high places of Baal" upon the tents of Israel spread Out over the plain beneath, he is constrained in spite of himself to utter only predictions of good. His magic arts are utterly baffled in presence of the Divinity that overshadows that strange people. It is a picture of what is going on through all the ages. In the triumphant host approaching the borders of the land of promise we see the ransomed Church moving on to its glorious destination, its heavenly rest; the kingdom that Christ has founded among men consummating itself, "covering the face of the whole earth." And in the failure of his enchantments we see the impotence of the devices of the powers of darkness to arrest its progress. The Satanic working has assumed different forms.

I. PERSECUTION. The followers of Christ soon verified his prophetic word: "In the world ye shall have tribulation." The infant Church was nursed and cradled in the storms. It no sooner began to put forth its new-born energies than it found the forces of earth and hell arrayed against it. But what was the result? The first outbreak of hostility only brought to the minds of those feeble men, with a meaning undiscovered before, the triumphant words (Psalm 2), "Why do the heathen rage," &c. It drove them nearer to the Divine Fountain of strength. It made them doubly bold (Acts 4:23, 30). Scattered abroad, they ':went everywhere preaching the word, and the hand of the Lord was with them." A prophecy was thus given of the way in which persecution would always serve the cause it meant to destroy, and God would "make the wrath of man to praise him." Ecclesiastical authority has leagued itself with the tyrannous powers of the world in this repressive work. The sanctions of religion have been invoked for the destruction of the truth. But ever to the same issue. Whatever form it takes, the persecuting spirit is always essentially Satanic; there is nothing Divine in it. And it always defeats its own end. "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church." The fire that has swept over the field, consuming the growth of one year, has only enriched it and made it more prolific the next. The kingdom of Christ has rooted itself in the earth, and its Divine energies have been developed by reason of the storms that have raged against it. Not only has "no weapon formed against it prospered," but the weapon has generally recoiled on the head of him who wielded it. The Satanic enchantments have been foiled just when they seemed to reach the climax of their success, and the curses of a hostile world have turned to blessings.

II. CORRUPTING INFLUENCES WITHIN THE PALE OF THE CHURCH ITSELF. Christianity has suffered far more from foes within than ever it did from foes without. Christ has been wounded most "in the house of Ms friends." Read the history of the first three or four centuries of the Christian era if you would know to what an extent the hand of man may mar the fair and glorious work of God. They tell how Christian doctrine, worship, polity, social life gradually lost their original simplicity and purity. The traditions of Judaism, heathen philosophies and mythologies, the fascinations of a vain world, the basest impulses of our nature, all played their part in the corrupting process. The human element overbore and thrust aside the Divine, till it seemed as if Satan, baffled in the use of the extraneous persecuting powers, were about to triumph by the subtler forces of corruption and decay. But God has never left his Church to itself any more than to the will of its adversaries. In the darkest times and under the most desperate conditions the leaven of a higher life has been secretly working. Nothing is more wonderful than the way in which the interests of Christ's kingdom have been preserved, not only in spite of, but often through, the instrumentality of events and institutions that in themselves were contrary to its spirit and its laws. What are many of our modern agitations but the struggles of the religious life to east off the fetters that long have bound it, to shake itself from the dust of ages, symptoms of the vis vitoe by which nature throws off disease. Even the retrograde movements that sometimes alarm us will be found by and by to have conspired to the same end. And when the Church shall "awake, and put on her beautiful garments" of simple truth and love and power, when "the Spirit is poured out upon her from on high," then shall it be seen how utterly even these subtler Satanic "enchantments" have failed to arrest her progress towards the dominion of the earth.

III. THE ASSAULTS OF UNBELIEF. The intellectual force of the world in some of its most princely and commanding forms has ever set itself in deadly antagonism to the Church of Christ. Far be it from us to say that all who hold or teach anti-Christian doctrine are consciously inspired by the spirit of evil. But beneath the fairest aspects of aggressive unbelief we discern the Satanic aim to darken the glory that shines from heaven on human souls. It is given to "the mystery of iniquity" to pervert the genius, the learning, even the very mental integrity and honest purpose of men to its own false uses. But have these forces of unbelief ever gained a substantial victory? One would suppose, from what is often said on their side, that they were victorious along the whole line. Is it really so? Is there any one stronghold of revealed truth that they have stormed and taken? In all the battles that have been fought on the field of Christian doctrine, has any ground really been lost? Have any of the "standards" fallen? Is Christianity in any sense a defeated or even damaged cause? Nay, we rather believe that "the foolishness of God is wiser than men," and "the weakness of God is stronger than men." The camp of Israel need fear no hostile "enchantment," for "the Lord their God is with them, and the shout of a king is among them." - W.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel: according to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought!

WEB: Surely there is no enchantment with Jacob; Neither is there any divination with Israel. Now it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What has God done!

You Cannot Neutralise God
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