The Great Contradiction

Arno Froese

He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the Lord his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them” (Numbers 23:21).

Bible readers know the story of Balaam the prophet and Balak the king of Moab, who was greatly afraid of Israel. Obviously, they believed in the supernatural power of the God who created heaven and earth. But to them were not entrusted the oracles of God as they were to Israel.

Incidentally, this shows that God also had prophets among the Gentiles during those days. Balaam was one of them, and Balak the king believed that he had enough power to curse Israel. Yet Balaam the Gentile prophet receives the Word of God, as we read in Numbers 22:12: “And God said unto Balaam, Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed.” When we go to the next chapter and read the introductory Scripture, Balaam proclaims that God “…hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel.” Balaam perceived a holy people unto the Lord, a people that did the right thing, and he adds in verse 23a: “…there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel.”

This sounds rather strange, when we know from reading the Bible that Israel was indeed a perverse nation, full of iniquity. How rebellious and disbelieving is evident in chapter 14:22: “Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice.” That’s definitely a contradictory picture to the one the pagan prophet Balaam gives us. Yet both statements are inspired by the Word of God.

The Great Contradiction
It seems like a contradiction to us, but when we study the Word of God carefully, we will understand it is not. God had chosen Israel as His special people. To Israel, He revealed His intention regarding the law and grace. No wonder Jesus said, “Salvation is of the Jews.” The seeming contradiction is simply explained. The Gentile prophet had no right to look into the family of God, chosen by Him for His special purpose. But from God’s perspective, Israel indeed was a stubborn, rebellious, and stiff-necked people.

An example may be used from our own lives. My children may be obnoxious, badly behaved, and a nuisance to the neighbors. But even if that is true, the neighbors have no right to come to my house and dispense punishment to my children. They are my responsibility, not the business of someone else.

It is for that reason that the nations of the world are making a great mistake by judging Israel in our days, and they all do. Based on information found on Wikipedia, as of 2013, almost 50% of the condemnations by the United Nations Human Rights Council were directed against Israel. Yet, it is the freest and only functioning democracy in the Middle East. All nations, without exception, condemn Israel’s establishment of subdivisions (“settlements”) in their land. None of them would agree with the boundaries God gave to Abraham: “In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates” (Genesis 15:18).

Take Lebanon, the country often called the Switzerland of the Middle East; Le Monde Diplomatique reports in July 2019:

More than 17,000 people are officially unaccounted for from Lebanon’s civil war, many of them disappeared and probably buried in the mass graves that still dot the country.

On 28 November last year, 30 women gathered for a press conference in Khalil Gibran Garden. Two weeks earlier, the Lebanese parliament had adopted law 105 on Missing and Forcibly Disappeared Persons, which stipulates that families have the right to know the fate of loved ones who went missing during the war (article 2). It also provides for the establishment of an independent commission to locate the mass graves scattered across the country, and exhume remains for identification.

The women had come from all over Lebanon. Most wore a scarf with the slogan ‘We have the right to know.’ They held yellowed photographs of young men who stared at the camera—sons, husbands and brothers, almost all disappeared; the unofficial war toll is 150,000 killed and 17,415 missing.

Yet the world is silent. If only 1% of the slaughter had taken place in Israel, the whole world would be in an uproar.

If we ask, what in the world is going on, we find the answer in Psalm 2:1-2: “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed…” The nations of the world are in an uproar, but God, who “sitteth in the heavens shall laugh.” Why? “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.” That is Israel’s future: the return of the Lord, and from Zion He shall righteously rule the nations of the world.

Midnight Call - 10/2019

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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