Numbers 24:17
I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob, and a scepter will arise from Israel. He will crush the skulls of Moab and strike down all the sons of Sheth.
Sermons
Balaam - the Fourth ParableJ. Waite Numbers 24:17
Balaam and BalakD. C. Hughes, M. A.Numbers 24:10-19
Worldly Profit Should not Withdraw Us from Christian DutiesW. Attersoll.Numbers 24:10-19
The Star Out of Jacob and the Scepter Out of IsraelD. Young Numbers 24:15-25
A New StarT. de Witt Talmage.Numbers 24:17-19
Balaam and the Star of JacobR. Jones, B. A.Numbers 24:17-19
Balaam's ProphecyClerical WorldNumbers 24:17-19
Balaam's Prophecy of Christ as Star and SceptreG. Wagner.Numbers 24:17-19
Balaam's VisionH. J. Wilmot-Buxton, M. A.Numbers 24:17-19
Balaam's VisionH. Melvill, B. D.Numbers 24:17-19
Death the Crown of LifeH. S. Carpenter, D. D.Numbers 24:17-19
Seeing the StarH. W. Beecher.Numbers 24:17-19
The Star of JacobSpurgeon, Charles HaddonNumbers 24:17-19
The Star of Jacob and the Sceptre of IsraelJ. G. Angley, M. A.Numbers 24:17-19
Two Ways of Seeing ChristG. Wagner.Numbers 24:17-19
Variety of Representation of GodH. W. Beecher.Numbers 24:17-19
Balaam appears before us here as one who "seeing, sees not. His "eyes are open," but he has no real vision of the eternal truth of things. He has a "knowledge of the Most High," but not that which consists in living sympathy with his character and will and law. He recognizes the blessedness of the ransomed people, but has no personal share in that blessedness. He discerns the bright visions of the future, the rising of Jacob's Star, the gleam of the royal Scepter that shall rule the world, the coming of the world's redeeming Lord, but he sees him only from afar. Not "now," not "nigh," does he behold him; not with a vivid, quickening, self-appropriating consciousness; not as the light, the hope, the life, the eternal joy of his own soul. It is a moral portraiture, a type of spiritual condition and personal character, with which we are only too familiar. The faith of many is thus destitute of efficient saving power. "It is dead, being alone." Their religious perceptions are thus divorced from religious life. They have just such a formal, ideal acquaintance with God, without any of that immediate personal fellowship with hint which renews their moral nature after his likeness. They walk in the embrace of his presence, but their "eyes are holden that they should not know him." So near is He, and yet so far; so clearly revealed, and yet so darkly hidden; so familiar, and yet so strange.

I. This is seen in THE INSENSIBILITY OF MEN TO THE DIVINER MEANING OF NATURE. The material universe exists for spiritual ends. God has surrounded his intelligent creatures with all the affluence and glory of it in order to reveal himself to them and attract their thought and affection to himself. "The invisible things of him from the beginning of the world are clearly seen," &c. (Romans 1:20). But how dead are men often to Divine impressions! They hear no voice and feel no influence from God coming to them through his works. They know none but the lower uses of nature, and never dream of entering through it into communion with Him who inspires it with the energy of his presence. Tribes whose life is nursed and cradled in the fairest regions of the earth are often mentally the darkest and morally the most depraved. The worst forms of heathenism have been found in those parts of the world where the Creator has most lavished the tokens of his glorious beneficence. The sweet associations of rural and pastoral life in a Christian land like ours are connected less than we should expect them to be with quickness of spiritual perception and tenderness of spiritual sensibility. Stranger still that men whose souls are most keenly alive to all the beauty of the world, and with whom it is an all-absorbing passion to search out its wonders and drink in its poetic inspirations, should fail, as they so often do, to discern in it a living God. Physical science is to many as a gorgeous veil that darkly hides him. rather than the glass through which the beams of his glory fall upon them, the radiant pathway by which they climb up to his throne. Their eyes are wondrously "open;" they have a "knowledge of the Most High" in the forms and modes of his working such as few attain to; "visions of the Almighty" in the glorious heavens above and the teeming earth beneath pass continually before them, and yet they see and feel and know him not. How different such a case from that of Job: "O that I knew where I might find him!" &c. (Job 23:1-10). There you have the passionate outbreathing of a soul that is hungering and thirsting after a God that "hideth himself." Here you have God urging, pressing upon men the signals and proofs of his presence without effect. There is no blindness darker and sadder than that of those who boast that their "eyes are open," and yet, in a glorious world like this, can find no living God.

II. It is seen in THE INDISPOSITION OF MEN TO RECOGNISE THE VOICE OF GOD IN HOLY SCRIPTURE. To know that the Bible is a revelation of truth from God, and to know God as he reveals himself in the Bible, are two widely different things. There are those to whom revelation is as a Divine voice uttered long ago, but "not now;" a voice coming down to them through the ages as in distant echo, but not instant and near. To them these old records may be sacred, venerable, worthy to be preserved and defended, but in no sense are they a channel of direct personal communication between the living God and our living souls; "inspired" once, but not instinct with the spirit of inspiration now. No wonder the word is powerless and fruitless under such conditions. It is of no use to tell men that the Scriptures are "inspired" if they don't feel God to be in them. dealing as a personal Spirit with their spirits to draw them into fellowship with himself. A new kind of consciousness is awakened, a new order of effects produced, when once a man begins to feel that the written word is the living voice of God to his own soul. He cannot despise it then. It carries with it an authority that needs no extraneous authority to support it - the true "demonstration of the Spirit." Apart from this, the soul in presence of all these Divine revelations is like one under the influence of some powerful anaesthetic, receiving impressions on the outward sense of all that is going on around him, but conscious of nothing. The "eyes are open," but there is no living, spiritual realization. "They seeing, see not, and hearing, hear not, neither do they understand" (Matthew 13:13; John 12:40; 2 Corinthians 4:3, 4).

III. It is seen in THE PURELY IDEAL RELATION IN WHICH MEN TOO OFTEN STAND TOWARDS CHRIST. By multitudes Christ is seen, as it were, "afar off." He is to them but as the vision of a dream, a vague, distant abstraction, a mere historic figure, the central actor in a tragical historic drama. They have never entered into any kind of personal relation with him, have never bowed before him in heart-broken penitence, adoring wonder, childlike trustfulness, grateful, self-surrendering love. "Virtue" has never gone forth out of him to heal the disease of their souls, because they have not yet "touched him." There is a wide distinction between the knowledge that comes by mere hearsay and that which comes by personal converse, between a distant vision and the living "touch." Though faith be in great part blind and unintelligent, yet if there is the quick sensibility of life in it, it is better than all the clear, unclouded vision of an eye that is no real inlet to the soul. There is a future manifestation of Christ. "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him" (Revelation 1:7). What shall be the relation in which we stand towards him then? There are those whose eyes will then be opened as they never were before. Shall it be only to have them closed again in everlasting night, "consumed with the brightness of his appearing"? You must be in living fellowship with Christ now if you would look with joy upon him when he comes in his "power and great glory." - W.







I shall see Him, but not now: I shall behold Him, but not nigh.
As I read these words I seem to look on the scene described. What do I see? I see the top of a wild mountain range, and I see altars smoking with sacrifices. Hard by stands Balak, with many slaves bearing costly gifts, gold, and precious stones, and spices, and garments. A little apart is Balaam, that "strange mixture of a man." And now, as he gazes from the high places of Baal, and the altars of idolatry, he sees far below Israel abiding in their tents. There are the banners of the different tribes waving in the wind; the eyes of Balaam are opened, and he recalls the past of Israel's history, and he foresees the future. And now, as we turn aside from this unwilling prophet who utters a blessing, in every word of which there was breathed a curse, what lessons are there for us of to-day.

1. First, we learn the awful danger of trifling with conscience, the whisper of the Holy Spirit within us. Balaam knew what was right, yet desired to do wrong.

2. We learn, too, the sin of trying to make a bargain, or compromise, with God. Hundreds of people are trying to do this, endeavouring to serve God a little, and the world a good deal. They profess to obey God, but only in the matters which they choose.

3. We learn, also, from the story of Balaam's sin, never to neglect a plain duty for the sake of earthly gain.

(H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, M. A.)

Commentators have differed as to the way of explaining the pronoun "him," some referring it to Israel. We need scarcely say that we agree with those who refer to Him who is Jacob's star and sceptre. False as his heart was, the seer saw Him in the spirit of prophecy, and felt that a time would come when he would actually see Him. But the time when Jacob's Star would arise was not come, it was distant, and so he adds, "but not now; I shall behold Him, but not nigh." This seems to be the obvious meaning of the words. But if you look at them in connection with Balaam's state of mind, do they not contain a deeper and more awful meaning? Are they not prophetic of himself, as well as of Christ? — of his own awful end, as well as of Israel's great destiny? "I shall see Him!" Yes, when He comes again; but does he express hope that he will share in the Redeemer's glory and Israel's blessedness? No, there is no word of hope, no expression of desire, as in the words of Job, "For I know that my Redeemer liveth," &c. "My Redeemer!" says the afflicted saint, with an appropriating faith; "whom I shall see for myself," he adds, in hallowed longing; but all that the "unrighteous" prophet could say was, "I shall behold Him, but not nigh." In what spirit do we think of that day of which these men speak? All of us, without any exception, will see Christ. "Every eye shall see Him." But how shall we see Him — nigh, or afar off? Like Job, or like Balaam? Has it been given us to say with the first, "My Redeemer — mine, for He died for me"? Or do we feel — must we feel, that we have no. part in His salvation; and that when we see Him, it may be "afar off."

(G. Wagner.)

A
Balaam, moved by the Spirit, sets forth Jesus in this prophecy in a twofold character — as the Giver of light, and as exercising kingly power.

I. First, AS THE GIVER OF LIGHT: "There shall come a Star out of Jacob." We all know that the Redeemer is more than once compared in Scripture to the sun (Malachi 4:2; Luke 1:78). It is not, perhaps, quite so easy to see why Christ is compared to a "star"; for as the stars shine with a borrowed light, they seem more suited to be illustrations of the followers of Jesus than of the Saviour Himself. And so they are used in Revelation 1:20 of ministers: "The seven stars are the angels of the seven Churches"; and by St. Paul of all Christians (Philippians 2:14). Applied to Christ, it may be to teach us how Jesus shines through all the long night of the Church's sorrows. The sun dissipates darkness; where it shines, darkness ceases. It is so with the rule of sin. Into whatever heart Christ shines, there the power of sin is broken. The star gives light without dissipating darkness. It guides the wanderer's feet. So Jesus gives light in the night of affliction. He does not altogether remove it, nor exempt His people from suffering. But they are not left in utter darkness. There is a star in the heavens above, so bright that it can penetrate the darkest cloud, and gladden with its light the loneliness of sorrow. But St. John teaches us something more about this star when he records the words of the glorified Redeemer, "I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning Star" (Revelation 22:16). And why the morning star? The morning star is the last to disappear. It still continues to shine when the rays of the sun have overwhelmed every other light; and thus it is a beautiful emblem of Christ. Is Christ Jesus your Star, your morning Star? Is it to His light that you look? And if any earthborn cloud interrupts His light from your soul, do you look through the cloud, and wait, not impatiently, but earnestly, for its removal? Those false lights with which we encompass ourselves, the sparks of our own kindling, will certainly all go out, and great will be the consternation of those who will then be left in darkness. But if you are looking to Jesus, guided by His light, then your path will get brighter and brighter, until it ends in the perfect light of His presence, a height to which no cloud can rise. But there is one thing more that we must notice with regard to this Star. Balaam tells us the point from whence he saw it arise. "There shall come," he says, "a Star out of Jacob." This points us to the humanity of Jesus. All the brightness of the Godhead came to us through the humanity of Jesus.

II. But let us pass on to the second part, THE KINGLY OFFICE OF OUR REDEEMER: "And a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel." It may be thought, perhaps, in consequence of the words that follow, "and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth," that this prophecy was fulfilled in the time of David, when the boundaries of Israel were so much enlarged, and their enemies overcome. But we ought to remember that just as the prophets and priests of Israel were types of Jesus as Prophet and Priest, so were its kings types of Him who was and is a King of kings. Jesus was a King in the days of His suffering on earth. It was under the direction of God's providence that Pilate, though he meant it not so, wrote the title, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." The sceptre was in His hand; but He did not then put forth His great power and reign. His kingly office was held for a time in abeyance. True it is that Christ does reign. He reigns in the hearts of His willing people, and over a reluctant world. But this is the time of His patience and long-suffering. The hour is not yet come for the full manifestation of His kingly office and power. Does He reign in our hearts, destroying and keeping under our spiritual enemies?

III. But there is one point more in our text which we must not leave unnoticed, and that is, THE CONSEQUENCE OF THE COMING OF THE STAR, AND RISING OF THE SCEPTRE — A POWER GIVEN TO ISRAEL TO OVERCOME HIS ENEMIES. Those enemies are described, not generally, but very minutely. Moab is mentioned first, because, headed by Balak, the Moabites were then endeavouring to destroy Israel. The expression, "Smite the corners (or sides) of Moab," signifies an entire destruction, perpetrated along the whole compass of its dominions. The next expression, "The children of Sheth," has puzzled commentators. Some have taken it as a proper name, to designate one of Adam's sons

; but it is impossible to extract any good meaning from it if so understood. The Hebrew word has, however, lately been shown to be the contracted form of another word which signifies "tumult"; and this is strongly confirmed by a reference to a remarkable prophecy of Jeremiah concerning Moab, in which we can scarcely fail to observe an allusion to this prophecy of Balaam (Jeremiah 48:42). The enemies of Israel were called the children of tumult, because they were ever restless; restless in themselves, because they knew not Israel's God, and restless as neighbours, because they would give Israel no peace. Next to Moab, Edom is mentioned. Then follow predictions of judgments on Amalek, Israel's first enemy, on the Kenites, strong as they seemed to be in their mountain-passes, on Asshur and Eber; and so terrible did these judgments appear to the seer, that he could not help exclaiming, "Alas I who shall live when God doeth this?" But all these are but typical of the greater enemies with which we have to contend. The "sons of tumult" encompass us about. Satan, knowing that his time is short, is ever busy. The world, so restless because it knows not Christ, pours in its influences upon us. The old man within us, though crucified, is ever struggling for victory. And Under these influences our very relatives and friends may hinder us on our way, just as Edom did Israel. What must we do to overcome? We must fix our eye upon Jacob's Star, the bright morning Star. We must cling to the sceptre of Jesus. Remember that the enemies of God's people are already doomed to destruction. Yet a little while, and if you are Christ's, Satan will be bruised under your feet. The world will not attract or frighten you. The old man will not struggle and weary you.

(G. Wagner.)

Our Lord, then, is compared to a star, and we shall have seven reasons to assign for this.

I. He is called a star as THE SYMBOL OF GOVERNMENT. You will observe how evidently it is connected with a sceptre and with a conqueror. Jacob was to be blessed with a valiant leader who should become a triumphant sovereign. Very frequently in oriental literature their great men, and especially their great deliverers, are called stars. Behold, then, our Lord Jesus Christ as the Star of Jacob. He is the Captain of His people, the Leader of the Lord's hosts, the King in Jeshurun, God over all, glorious and blessed for ever!

1. We may say of Jesus in this respect that He has an authority which He has inherited by right. He made all things, and by Him all things consist. It is but just that He should rule over all things.

2. Our Lord as a star has an authority which He has valiantly won. Wherever Christ is King He has had a great and a stern fight for it.

3. This kingdom of Christ, wherever it is, is most beneficent. Wherever this star of government shines, its rays scatter blessing. Jesus is no tyrant. He rules not by oppression. The force He uses is the force of love.

II. The star is THE IMAGE OF BRIGHTNESS. Our Lord Jesus Christ is brightness itself. The star is but a poor setting forth of Ills ineffable splendour. As Mediator, exalted on high, enjoying the reward of His pains, He is bright indeed.

1. Observe, that our Lord as a star is a bright particular star in the matter of holiness. In Him was no sin.

2. As a star, He shines also with the light of knowledge. Moses was, as it were, but a mist, but Christ is the Prophet of light. "The law was given by Moses" — a thing of types, and shadows — "but grace and truth come by Jesus Christ." If any man be taught in the things of God, he must derive his light from the Star of Bethlehem.

III. Thirdly, our Lord is compared to a star to bring out the fact that He is THE PATTERN OF CONSTANCY. Ten thousand changes have been wrought since the world began, but the stars have not changed. There they remain. So with our Lord Jesus. He is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. What the prophets and apostles saw in Him, we can see in Him, and what He was to them, that He is to us, and shall be to generations yet unborn. Hundreds of us may be looking at the same star at the same time without knowing it. There is a meeting-place for many eyes. We may be drifted, some of us, to Australia, or to Canada, or to the United States, or we may be sailing across the great deep, but we shall see the stars there. It is true that on the other side of the world we shall see another set of stars, but the stars themselves are always still the same. As far as we in this atmosphere are concerned, we shall look upon some star. So, wherever we may be, we look to the same Christ. Jesus Christ is still the same, the same to all His people, the same in all places, the same for ever and ever. Well, therefore, may He be compared to those bright stars that shine now as they did of old and change not.

IV. In the fourth place, we may trace this comparison of our Lord to a star as THE FOUNTAIN OF INFLUENCE. The old astrologers used to believe very strongly in the influence of the stars upon men's minds. But whether there be an influence in the stars or not, as touching this world, I know there is great influence in Christ Jesus. He is the fountain of all holy influences among the sons of men. Where this star shines upon the graves of men who are dead in sin they begin to live. Where the beam of this star shines upon poor imprisoned spirits, their chains drop off, the captive leaps to lose his chains. When this star shines upon the backslider, he begins to mend his ways, and to follow, like the eastern sages, its light till he finds his Saviour once more.

V. In the fifth place, the Lord Jesus Christ may be compared to a star as A SOURCE OF GUIDANCE. There are some of the stars that are extremely useful to sailors. I scarcely know how else the great wide sea would be navigated, especially if it were not for the Polar Star. Jesus is the Polar Star to us.

VI. Our Lord is compared to a star, safely, as THE OBJECT OF WONDER. We used to think when we were little ones that the stars were holes pricked in the skies, through which the light of heaven shone, or that they were little pieces of gold-dust that God had strewn about. We do not think so now; we understand that they are much greater than they look to be. So, when we were carnal, and did not know King Jesus, we esteemed Him to be very much like anybody else, but now we begin to know Him, we find out that He is much greater, infinitely greater than we thought He was. And as we grow in grace, we find Him to be more glorious still.

VII. Our Lord is compared to a star, as lie IS THE HERALD OF GLORY. The bright and morning star foretells that the sun is on its way to gladden the earth with its light. Wherever Jesus comes lie is a great prophet of good. Let Him come into a heart, and, as soon as He appears, you may rest assured that there is a life of eternity and joy to come. Let Jesus Christ come into a family, and what changes He makes there. Let Him be preached with power in any town or city, and what a herald of good things He is there. To the whole world Christ has proclaimed glad tidings. His coming has been fraught with benedictions to the sons of men.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

Clerical World.
I. CHRIST'S PREDICTED HUMAN ANCESTRY. "Out of Jacob," &c. He was the "Lord from heaven"; but He came through the lowly door of human birth.

1. His ancestry was chosen by God. That there was a fitness we cannot doubt; what it consisted in we do not know.

2. Its destinies were guided by God with a view to this great consummation. This explains many a dark passage in Israel's history. So when we can view God's leading of us from the result, all will be clear.

3. It was a lowly ancestry. Contrast with the great ancient powers.

4. It was by no means a pure and worthy ancestry. The clean came out of an unclean. Endless hope for man in that.

II. THE TWOFOLD REPRESENTATION OF CHRIST'S REIGN.

1. A Star. In its guidance.

(1)Universal and impartial. For all under the heavens.

(2)Abiding. No earthly power or malice can quench its light.

(3)Leads in the darkness. Burns the brighter the greater the darkness.

(4)Unobtrusive. You must watch and follow.

2. A Sceptre.

(1)Strong to protect His friends.

(2)Powerful to crush His foes.

(Clerical World.)

I. THE STAR OF JACOB OR ISRAEL.

1. Christ is a Star to give Divine light and guidance to the soul.

2. Christ is a Star of glory for His Church, and of conquest over all His foes.

II. CHRIST IS THE SCEPTRE OF ISRAEL, OR OF THE CHURCH OF GOD. The sceptre is the emblem in all realms and ages of royal authority. Now Christ holds the sceptre of royal power in two ways.

1. As the Divine Lawgiver and Ruler of His Church for government.

2. For victory and eternal glory.

(J. G. Angley, M. A.)

I. THE DELIVERER OF THIS PROPHECY.

II. THE PERSON FORETOLD IN THIS PROPHECY.

1. A star may be conceived an apt emblem of Jesus, from the loftiness and dignity of its position. Lofty as is the sphere of the common star, infinitely loftier is the mediatorial range of the circuit of Christ, the Star of Bethlehem. In His course as a Saviour, He completely overtops with His excellency all length, and breadth, and depth, and height — all time — all eternity.

2. A star, also, is an apt emblem of Jesus, inasmuch as it helps to relieve the monotonous aspect of the gloom of night with its brilliant presence. How undefined would be the face of night without the stars! It is the constant twinklings that are emitted from the various groups of stars above our heads which convert the dulness of night into positive cheerfulness. And is not Jesus the Star that gilds the dark night of affliction with the blessings of His spiritual presence?

3. How wonderful is it that He generally reserves the disclosure of His unsearchable ways to His chosen until the darkest hour of the night of tribulation! But Jesus, also, is aptly represented under the figure of a star, as being set forth to the world at large as a sign from heaven. To some He shines far off, as the star of better days to come; to more as the star of ill omen and wrath from on high to them that are disobedient and care not for the truth.

III. THE PURPORT OF THIS PROPHECY.

(R. Jones, B. A.)

It is evident that the star and the sceptre are to be taken as emblems or types of some prince or warrior; for it is a living form which Balaam first represents himself as beholding, though he immediately proceeds to describe the being under images drawn from the inanimate creation. And that the star and sceptre did but figure some illustrious person is yet more clear from what instantly follows, seeing that the deeds of a conqueror are ascribed to him by the prophet — "and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth." The successes of this potentate are then more fully stated - "And Edom shall be a possession, Seir also shall be a possession for his enemies." And the prophecy, so far as we are now to consider it, is shut up in the declaration, that the warrior figured by the star and the sceptre should not be alone in his conflict, but should be associated with the people from whom he was to arise, "Israel shall do valiantly." And who, think ye, is this leader or prince to represent? The first opinion is, that it was David whom Balaam foresaw and foretold; the second, that it was Christ. And these opinions may both be correct. It is very common for prophecies to have a double fulfilment. The first when they are taken in a somewhat restricted sense; the second when they are taken in their largest sense. And this is peculiarly the case when an individual is himself the type of a more illustrious; and when therefore it may naturally be expected that his actions serve also as predictions of those of his antitype. Now it is not necessary that we Should show you that a king such as David might be fitly represented under the emblem of a star and a sceptre. This at least will be immediately admitted in regard of the sceptre; for the sceptre being that which a king holds and sways, suggests necessarily the idea of a royal ruler or potentate. And if we cannot affirm quite the same of the star, we know that, in the imagery of Scripture, stars are put for the leading men of a country — those most conspicuous in the political firmament: so that when great convulsions are to be delineated — those agitations of society which confound all orders and ranks — it is by such emblems as that of the stars falling from the heavens that the overthrow of princes and grandees was commonly represented. We turn then to the things said to be done by the being thus figuratively described; and in these we may certainly recognise the actions of David. It is affirmed of the predicted king that he shall "smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth"; Sheth (according to the best interpreters) having been the name of a great Moabitish prince. This affirmation (if Moab be literally understood) requires that the ruler of Israel should lay waste the country in which Balaam then stood; and so far the prediction was undoubtedly accomplished by David. For you read in the Second Book of Samuel — "David smote Moab, and he measured them with a line, casting them down to the ground; even with two lines measured he to put to death, and with one full line to keep alive: and so the Moabites became David's servants, and brought gifts." It is next said "Edom shall be a possession"; and you find it stated of David in the very chapter from which we have just quoted, "David put garrisons in Syria of Damascus; and the Syrians became servants." As to what follows — "Seir also shall be a possession for his enemies" — it seems to be only a repetition of the former clause; for Seir was the name given to some parts of the country of the Edomites. So that the prophecy — a prophecy verified by the historical facts already adduced, is that David's occupation of the land would be so complete that he should have possession of its fastnesses and heights. We need scarcely add that the remaining words of the text, "Israel shall do valiantly," apply thoroughly to the people over whom David ruled; for the nation became eminently warlike under so illustrious a leader, and distinguished itself by courage in the field. And thus we may fairly say that if David were represented by the star and the sceptre, his registered actions and achievements correspond with sufficient accuracy to the prophetic delineation. But we doubt whether this accomplishment of the prophecy can seem to any of you commensurate with the grandeur of the diction with which it is conveyed. We thus bring you to the most important part of our subject. We are to apply the prophecy to Christ, and examine whether there be not a special fitness in the emblems of the star and the sceptre, when considered as designating the Redeemer; and whether the smiting of Moab and Edom do not aptly represent His victories and His triumphs. Indeed, so usual was it to associate the promised Christ with a star, or to take the star as His emblem, that we read of an impostor in the days of the emperor Adrian, wishing to pass himself off for the Messiah, assumed a title which signifies The Son of the Star; meaning thereby to announce himself as the star which Balaam had seen afar off. But admitting that the emblem of the star is employed in designating Christ, is there any special appropriateness in such an emblem? We reply at once that everything which has to do with light may fitly be taken as an image of Christ. There is nothing which so fitly represents the moral condition of the world when Christ appeared on earth as darkness. His office cannot be better represented than when He is exhibited under figures derived from the nature and the agency of light. But yet, why describe Him as a star, which does little towards irradiating a benighted creation? Why not rather take the sun as His emblem? He will be a sun to His Church throughout the heavenly states: but He is only as a star during the existing dispensation. And may not this, indeed, be most truly affirmed of a state in which at best "we see through a glass darkly," and can "know but in part"? The night is yet upon us, though that night may be far spent; but it is no longer the starless night which it was ere the Redeemer brought life and immortality to light by His gospel. A star — a morning star has occupied our horizon, and the tempest-tossed barque, in danger of everlasting shipwreck, may steer itself by the light of that star to the haven where it would be, and where there is to be no more night, though no more sun. Christianity, as set up in the world, is but in its twilight. The night is still unbroken over a vast portion of our globe; and even where revelation has been received, we must rather speak of streaks like those on the eastern sky, whose gold and purple prophesy of morning, than those rich full lustres which flood creation when the sun has reached the zenith. On every account, therefore, is our Redeemer fitly emblemed by the figure which He applied to Himself — the emblem of the bright and morning star. And surely we need not say much to prove to you that the emblem of the sceptre is equally appropriate. You know that in Christ are combined the offices of Prophet, Priest, and King. But admitting the appropriateness of the emblems thus given to Christ, we have yet to examine whether the predicted actions were such as to be ascribed to the Redeemer. We have already shown you that if Moab and Edom are to be literally taken — that if they designate countries anciently so called — there are recorded events in the annals of the Jews which may be fairly considered as having accomplished the prediction. Now this is, of course, upon the supposition that the star and the sceptre represent David or some other Jewish prince, and will not hold when Christ is regarded as the subject of the prophecy. We need not say that Christ never ]aid waste the literal Moab and Edom; and we may add that there is nothing in Scripture to lead us to suppose that the countries formerly so called are hereafter to be specially visited by His vengeance. But you cannot be ignorant that it is common in the Bible to take a name which has belonged to some great foe of God, and to use it of others whose wickedness is their only connection with the parties originally so called. Edom and Moab are the names which prophecy gives to the enemies of the Church, who are to perish beneath the judgments with which that sun shall be saturated, when every baser light is to be lost in the star, and every other empire in that of the sceptre. And, therefore: in predicting the desolation of Moab and Edom, Balaam may be regarded as predicting the final overthrow of all the power of anti. christ, that a clear scene may be swept for the erection of the kingdom of Christ and His saints. The sign of the Son of Man is yet to be seen in the heavens, where it was beheld by Balaam, from the summit of Peor. I know not what that sign shall be; perhaps again the star — fearful meteor! — like that which hung over the fated Jerusalem, boding its destruction; perhaps again the sceptre — brilliant constellation! — burning with majesty and betokening the extinction of all meaner royalty; perhaps the Cross, as it appeared to the Roman — aye, when he was taught to know the God of battles, and to place Christianity upon the throne of the Caesars. But whatever the sign, the Being whose emblazonry it exhibits, shall come to deal out a long-delayed vengeance on tribes that have refused to walk in His light and submit to His rule. Now it is to be observed that though we have thus referred the close of the prediction to the close of the existing dispensation, there has been from the first and there still is a partial accomplishment of all that Balaam announced. There is evidently a great mixture in the prophecy. It is a prophecy of illumination, of dominion, of destruction, and all these are to be traced ever since Christ revealed Himself to man. There have been always those in whose hearts the day star has risen — always those who have yielded themselves as willing subjects to the Mediator — always the Moabite and the Edomite who have defied His authority, or sunk beneath His vengeance. So that however the grand fulfilment is yet to be expected in the complete triumph of Christianity and the overthrow of all the foes of the Church, enough is continually occurring to prove that the prediction sketched the whole period of the present dispensation. Throughout this whole period the words have been fulfilled, "Israel shall do valiantly." Israel has borne up bravely against incessant assault, and supported from on high has been successful in withstanding the armies of the aliens.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

Professor Henry, of Washington, discovered a new star, and the tidings sped by submarine telegraph, and all the observatories of Europe are watching for that new star. Oh, hearer, looking out through the darkness of thy soul to-night, canst thou see a bright light beaming on thee? "Where?" you say, "where? how can I find it?" Look along by the line of the Cross of the Son of God. Do you not see it trembling with all tenderness and beaming with all hope? It is the Star of Bethlehem.

(T. de Witt Talmage.)

The Bible sets us an example of fashioning for ourselves a personal God to suit our need. When I find Paul using figures to represent to himself God, as his wants required Him, I know that I may do the same thing. When I want love, I may make God my tender and loving father or sister, or mother. When I want pity, I may make Him a Being of unfailing and boundless pity. When I want courage, He is my lion; when I want light and cheer, He is my bright and morning star — my God alert, my sun, my bread, my wine. We may imagine Him everything that is to us good and beautiful, tender and true, and know that we are not cheating ourselves by vain fancies, but have only touched the extreme outer edge of the ever-blessed reality. There may be dangers in this freedom and variety of our representation of our God; but there are dangers in all forms of our thought of Him, and in none half so much as in having no realisation of Him at all, in considering Him an abstraction of all the omnis. Thinking of Him thus, none can ever love Him, or walk with Him.

(H. W. Beecher.)

This one thing I have noticed in everybody — the moment they come to a clear apprehension of the love of Christ, they turn right about upon the minister, or upon the Christians who have been labouring, perhaps for years, to bring them to that very point, and say, "Why didn't you tell us this before?" Why, it's what we've been always telling them. I think that trying to point a man to the love of Jesus is like trying to show one a star that has just come out, the only star in the whole cloudy sky. "I can see no star, says the man." "Where is it?" "Why, there; don't you see?" But the man shakes his head; he can see nothing. But by and by, after long looking, he catches sight of the star; and now he can see nothing else for gazing at it. He wonders that he had not seen it before. Just so it is with the soul that is gazing after the Star of Bethlehem. Nothing in the world seems so hidden, so complex, so perplexing, as this thing, until it is once seen by the heart, and then, oh, there never was anything that ever was thought of that is so clear, so simple, so transcendently glorious! And men marvel that the whole world does not see and feel as they do.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Our text may be considered either as a plaint, a sigh, or a song — a dirge winding to a march. There are, in reality, three questions interlinked in this passage. It is a question of studious curiosity. What kind of a race will then inhabit the earth? Men are naturally inquisitive to know who are to be their successors. Why not? They are to be the heirs in turn of our heritage; the tenants who are to move in as we move out; to enjoy our repairs, and to do, in turn, their own repairing for those who shall follow them. Who are they? The question deepens into a sigh. Here we go! just as we begin to take on the meaning of things about us ; scarce sooner found than lost. But what of that which is to transpire long after all these are past? Some one will tread the path that I am treading! Some one will saunter in the grove where I now linger! Some one will loiter to enjoy the landscape which now feeds me with its soft beauty! Some one will scent the fragrance of these laughing flowers! Some one will be soothed and hushed by the melody of the rippling stream! Some one will look beseechingly up into the face of the twinkling stars! Some one will cry out with unutterable longing, as we now cry, "Alas! who shall live when God doeth this?" We are baffled at the grave. We put our eyes close to the bars, but we cannot see. Death is the crown of life; and yet it is not the triumph of man over time, but of time over man. We leave the world behind us. Do lasting slumbers hold us? Is there no more of us when we are gone? When the reduplicated forces of the earth shall be put under command; when man shall sit in plumed victory over the opposing energies of nature; when the sword shall be beaten into a ploughshare, and the spear into a pruning-hook; when old hoary tyrannies and rusty wrongs shall be entombed for ever; when health shall mantle the cheek, and happiness shall festoon the fireside; when man shall keep faith with his fellow-man, and worship and adore his Maker — shall I live then? The thought gladdens, but it maddens as well. The scepticism that would console me with the thought that death is but a momentary pang; that I shall sleep in death's dateless night; that all these struggles shall have come to their rest; ah! this scepticism is but a miserable comforter after all. Shall I be shut out from my share in history? shut out from my right to know? It is voiced in another shape: "If a man die, shall he live again?" God has provided a way by which His people may be released, and yet view this earth in all its perfected beauty and glory. Only the wisdom of God could compass this. The resurrection solves this mighty problem. All who labour shall see the reward of their labour. The sower shall be partaker of the fruit. Every journeyman who worked wearily upon the temple, shall be present when the topstone is lifted to its place. Fall in, and catch up the anthem to the King of kings! Fall in, and live for ever. Follow Christ, and shout victory. Presently time shall have halted from its confused scramble, and God's finished workmanship shall have been taken from the loom, and the tapestry shall be revealed in all its beauty and perfection — the pattern will be complete. Then shall we learn that when we die we do not die out; that death is not death ; that to die is not to die, but to blossom into life.

(H. S. Carpenter, D. D.)

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