Numbers 24:14-19; Matthew 1-2

                                          December 25, 2011   


The Star out of Jacob and the Scepter out of Israel (vs. 13-25)


17 “I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh:” -  Rather,

“I see him, but not now: I behold him, but not near  (WNr,Wva"Wna,ra,

exactly as in ch.23:9). Balaam does not mean to say that he expected himself to see

at any future time the mysterious Being of whom he speaks, who is identical with the

“Star” and the “Scepter” of the following clauses; he speaks wholly as a prophet,

and means that his inner gaze is fixed upon such an one, with full assurance that

He exists in the counsels of God, but with clear recognition of the fact that

His actual coming is yet in the far future - “there shall come a Star out of

Jacob,” - Septuagint, ajnatelei~ ajstron anatelei astron – a Star will

come.   It may quite as well be rendered by the present; Balaam simply utters

what passes before his inward vision. The star is a natural and common poetic

symbol of an illustrious, or, as we say, “brilliant,” personage, and as such

recurs many times in Scripture (Job 38:7; Isaiah 14:12; Daniel 8:10; Matthew 24:29;

Philippians 2:15; Revelation 1:20; 2:28). The celebrated Jewish fanatic called

himself Barcochab, “son of the Star,” in allusion to this prophecy. [Barcochebas, or

Barcochab (Heb. son of a star), a Jewish leader, who persuaded his countrymen to rebel

against Rome in the time of Hadrian. He declared himself to be the "star" referred to in

in this verse, and adopted the name by which he is known in place of his patronymic Simeon.

His followers made him king of Jerusalem, and for a time he gave the Romans trouble, till in

135 A.D. he was defeated and killed by Julius Severus.] - “and a Scepter shall rise out

of Israel,” -  This further defines the “star” as a ruler of men, for the scepter is used

in that sense in the dying prophecy of Jacob (Genesis 49:10), with which Balaam was

evidently acquainted. Accordingly the Septuagint has here ajnasth>setai

anastaesetaiwill rise -  “and shall smite the corners of Moab,” - Rather, “the

 two corners” (dual), or “the two sides of Moab,” i.e., shall crush Moab on either side –

and destroy all the children of Sheth.”  In Jeremiah 48:45, where this prophecy is

in a manner quoted, the word rq"r]q" (qarqar, destroy) is altered into rqodq;

(quadqod, crown of the head). This raises a very curious and interesting

question as to the use made by the prophets of the earlier Scriptures, but it

gives no authority for an alteration of the text. The expression tveAyneB] has

been variously rendered. The Jewish commentators, followed by the

Septuagint (pa>ntav uiJou<v Sh>q pantas uious Saethall the sons of Sheth)

and the older versions, understand it to mean the sons of Seth, the son of Adam,

i.e., all mankind. Many modern commentators, however, take tve as a contraction

of tave (Lamentations 3:47 — “desolation’’), and read “sons of confusion,” as

equivalent to the unruly neighbors and relations of Israel. This, however, is extremely

dubious in itself, for tve nowhere occurs in this sense, and derives no support from

Jeremiah 48:45. It is true that tve yneB] is there replaced by ˆwOav; yneB], “sons of

 tumult,” but then this very verse affords the clearest evidence that the prophet felt

no hesitation in altering the text of Scripture to suit his own inspired purpose. If it be

true that rq"r]q" will not bear the meaning given to it in the Targums of “reign over,”

still there is no insuperable difficulty in the common rendering. Jewish prophecy, from

beginning to end, contemplated the Messiah as the Conqueror, the Subduer, and

even the Destroyer of all the heathen, i.e., of all who were not Jews. It is only in

the New Testament that the iron scepter with which He was to dash in pieces the

heathen (Psalm 2:9) becomes the pastoral staff wherewith He shepherds them

(Revelation 2:27 — poimanei~ - poimaneiHe shall rule; He shall be

Shepherding - after the Septuagint, which has here misread the text). The prophecy

was that Messiah should destroy the heathen; the fulfillment that He destroyed

 not them, but their heathenism (Compare Psalm 149:6-9 with James 5:20).



The final prophecy, unsolicited by Balak, which indeed he would have been

glad to stop, goes far beyond the concerns of his kingdom and his reign. It

stretches over an ever-widening extent of space and time. As long as there

is any Moab kind of nation to be destroyed, Israel must continue to

prevail. The kingdoms of this world not only will become the kingdoms of

our Lord and of His Christ (Revelation 11:15), but no other conclusion is easily

conceiveable.  The power by which Israel conquers one enemy enables it to conquer

all; and the disposition which leads it against one enemy must lead it against

all. It will again and again be attacked, and must defend where it is

attacked (Ezekiel 38).  It must expand by the ever-strengthening life within. The

more it grows, the more room it will require, until at last the kingdoms of the

world become its own. Notice:




The lion destroys, and that most effectually, but he can do nothing more than

destroy. The horse or the ox will draw the cart, and thus serve constructive

purposes. Even the tiniest bird can build its compact and symmetrical nest,

but the lion can do nothing save destroy. You may cage it and curb its

savage propensities a little, but it is not tamed; (who ever heard of taming

a lion by petting it?  - reminds me of modern educational theory in trying

to point rebellious children in the right direction!  So far it hasn’t

succeeded – I am a poor example but I was spanked in the first grade

with a wooden spoon and in high school with a razor strap and they

only made me grow tall!  In fact this whole section is dealing with

judgment.  Since modern man has neither the understanding, nor the


and it could just be in your and my lifetime –  Amos 4:12; Luke 21:31 –

CY – 2011) - the lion-nature is there, and the smallest taste of blood will

cause it to burst forth in all its fury. The lion being thus a destroyer, and

nothing but a destroyer, it is needful to present Israel as able to do more —

able to destroy in order that there may be room for the construction of

something more worthy to endure. (The removal of religion in American

public life, since it was so deeply rooted, with its topple, has left a

massive hole which has been filled with nothing, except drugs, sex and

rebellious music.  I think there musician influence in the days before

the Flood which contributed to bringing the house down – Genesis 4:21;

Matthew 24:36-39 – CY – 2011)  It does not become God to stay the

current of prophecy with a menace of dreadful destruction as the last word,

and so He makes Balaam to speak of the Star and the Scepter. The lion,

as it rages about, can make a solitude; it can take away wickedness by

taking away all wicked men; but a solitude is not a kingdom. The true

kingdom of God is only gained when He gets willing hearts. The

destruction which is spoken of with such energy and almost fierceness of

illustration is for the purpose of completely taking away the evil out

of human society, so that only the good may remain to serve and

glorify the Maker of mankind – “new heavens and a new earth


“And they shall bring the glory and honor of the nations unto





LIFE.”  (Revelation 21:26-27)




ESTABLISH GOOD. The star, it is said, is mentioned here as the symbol

of governing power, according to the astrological notions of antiquity. It is

further said that the joining of the scepter with the star shows that

authority and supremacy are the main things to be indicated by the

mention of the star  (See Isaiah 9:6-7).  Certainly the prophecy is full of the

 idea of SUPREMACY and AUTHORITY; but if this idea was the only

thing to be considered, the mention of the scepter would be enough. The star

is a symbol of power, but it is also a symbol of many great realities besides.

Let us ask not only why the scepter is joined with the star, but why the

 star is joined with the scepter.


Ø      The very first thing that a star indicates is light.  God will establish

His rule by sending the Star out of Jacob to rise in the darkness (See

Ibid. vs. 1-2).  Christ, the fulfillment of the star, has come a light into the

world, a rival to-existent lights, and DESTINED TO OUTSHINE

THEM ALL!   He is a light ever protesting against the darkness,

not comprehended by it, not swallowed up and lost in it (John 1:1-5).

Rejoice in this, that the Star out of Jacob is INACCESSIBLE

to the MEDDLING of those who hate its inconvenient revelations.

Christ comes to destroy, and at the same time to construct by letting

light in upon all dark, idolatrous chambers and all self-deceiving hearts.

The light is from Him who knows what is in man, his wickedness, his

weakness, and his wants.  He brings reality where others only bring

appearance. He brings truth where they, even in their very sincerity,

bring error. There is no room for a Balaam in His kingdom.

(What about you dear reader? – What a paradox?  There is plenty

of room in heaven, but NONE FOR YOU!!!!!!  - (Luke 12:22-24;

Matthew 8:11-12; Luke 13:27-29) - The Demas who makes a few

steps within soon retreats from a light far too trying for THE

DARKNESS OF HIS HEART  - (therein lies the problem –

II Timothy 4:10; John 3:19-21 - CY – 2011). Notice, further, that:


Ø      The light of the star is in some respects more significant of the

work of Christ than would be the light of the sun. We must have

a figure which will keep before us both the light and the darkness.

To us, individually, Christ may be as the sun (and may He be!),

filling our hearts with light (See Malachi 4:2a).  We know, alas, that He

is far from being a sun to many. Their light is still darkness, but THE


WAITING for the hour when in humility they may betake themselves

to it.  After all the search for truth, and whatever knowledge may be

gained, there is still THE SENSE OF INCOMPLETENESS

(God has made our hearts too big for the world to fill - see Ecclesiastes  



INTELLECT;  it does not find its way to enlighten and comfort the

whole heart.  We can by no means dispense with the Star out of

Jacob, the Star that shines from every page of the Scriptures.



REALITY OF THE DOMINION. The scepter is that of Christ’s truth,

wielded with all the power of God’s Holy Spirit. We must have much

assurance, not only of the illumination that comes from Christ, but of the

consequent actual illumination in accepting human hearts.  We must ever be

ready in our approaches to God to say, Thine is the kingdom and the

power (Matthew 6:13).  Thine is not only the RIGHTFUL AUTHORITY,

but also the ACTUAL AUTHORITY.   What is a more offensive sight than

a merely nominal submission to Christ? How soon it becomes evident to the

discerning eye that there is an utter want of harmony! Those who are really

Christ’s subjects soon justify their loyalty by the commotion they make

 among the accepted customs and traditions of the world. There is a

sense in which they may covet often to hear the word, “They that have

turned the world upside down have come hither also” (Acts 17:6).

As we read the acts of the Apostles, we feel that there was not only a new

teaching being diffused among men, but, above all things, a new power.

It was not only fresh thought they brought to men, but a new and gladdening life.




DOMINION. The details connected with each nation have of course their

peculiar significance, but the significance of the details is not quite so clear

as that of the great common element which runs through them all. All the

details point forward to a time when the Star out of Jacob shall outshine

the star out of every other nation, when the Scepter out of Israel shall

break every other scepter. The kingdoms of the world ARE TO FALL

the kingdoms of mammon, of pleasure, of unbelief in Christ, of science

falsely so called, of rationalism, of atheism, of individual self-assertion.

These are kingdoms that now stretch their authority far and wide, in all

continents, and in all ranks of men, and many are subjects of more than one

of the kingdoms. In the kingdoms of this world it is largely true that there is

neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female. The Star out of

Jacob then has a large work to do in subduing and transforming the many

and mighty kingdoms of this world. And all the glorious burden of

prophecy heaves and swells with the emphatic assurance that HE WILL

DO IT!  The day is to come when we shall all learn that to be king over

one’s own nature is more than to sway the most populous and wealthy

territory among men. Then indeed will the description, “King of kings,

and Lord of lords,” (Revelation 19:16) fully apply, when GOD IN

CHRIST JESUS REIGNS over kings and lords such as these.  “EVEN

SO COME LORD JESUS!”  (Ibid. ch. 22:20) - The cry concerning man

will no longer be,


“Lord of himself, that heritage of woe!”


but, lord of a heritage reclaimed, purified, and made docile by the

 work of Jesus as He inspires in the breast every loving, righteous,

 and truthful motive.



                                    Matthew 1



v. 1 - "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ"


Relating the redeeming work of the "Son of God, who

loved me, and gave Himself for me"


Reverence, awe and adoring love are the tempers of

mind worthy for such a study!


Life is short - eternity is long - Set you affections on

things above!


A message for us, God's voice calling and telling us

all that we need to know of Himself, of His will, of

His redemption of the human race from sin and death!


Bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh - He was made in

all things like us, yet without sin!  Though He  appeared

in the form of man, He is in truth God!


Perfectly one with His Father on the Divine side of His

nature - He is equally one with us on the human side.


In Christ God looks at us with human eyes, speaks to us

in an earthly tongue and touches us with a brother's hand!


The Incarnation of Christ was a literal graft of the Divine

upon human nature.


In the whole human family there is no one to compare to



John 3:16 - He belongs to humanity - He is the Hope of the

human race - He is the Light and Life of men - He is the

Son of God!  He also is a Light to lighten the Gentiles



"But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus

is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might

have life through His name" - John 20:31


"This is the work of God that ye believe on Him whom

He hath sent" - John 6:29


But it is no gospel to us, no glad tidings, but only an

ancient book unless by its guidance we find CHRIST!


In CHRIST ALONE is the life of men!


God has predestinated us to be conformed to the

image of His Son!  If we have missed on this we

have missed the purpose of our being!


Jesus the Christ, the Son of God and His

human ancestry via Mary, His mother.


The promise of Jesus was originally to Adam

in the Garden of Eden - Genesis 3:15


The promise was made to Abraham - the head

of the covenant nation of Israel - Gen. 12:1-3 & 22:14-18


"in thy Seed shall all the nations of earth be blessed"

                                                            Gen. 22:18


The promise was made to David - II Samuel 7:13-16


"of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne"

                                                Ps. 132:11


vs. 2-16 - the natural descent of each son from his father

            is emphasized until we come to Jesus and then

            the phrase is varied - "Joseph the husband of

            Mary, of whom was born Jesus"



The only women besides Mary who are mentioned are

Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba - three were stained

with sins (Tamar, Rahab and Bathsheba) and two were

not of the race of Israel - (Rahab and Ruth)


Matthew, in the onset of this gospel, proclaims Christ

as the Friend, even Kinsman, of sinners, and the Savior

offered to Gentiles as well as to Jews!


Sinners as well as saints are reckoned in His genealogy.  His human ancestry

was not uniformly holy, any more than uniformly royal.  The poorest have an

interest in Him as much as the noblest, the sinful as well as apostles and saints. 

"Abraham begat Isaac and Isaac begat Jacob and Jacob begat Judah ......" -

Man comes and man goes - a man is born and a man goes to his long home -

each man  represents a long line of ancestors stretching back into the remotest

past - most of us know very little of those who have gone before us - they are

gone and we must follow - we too shall be but names in the memory of posterity

and soon forgotten - it matters little now to them what their rank, their wealth,

was in life - the king, the carpenter, the patriarch are distinguished now only

by their faith and holiness.  Many that once were last are first now and there

are first that shall be last.



Worse still, who can say how our own children and

grandchildren will turn out and what extent that their

disgrace is due to inherited tendencies?


As the promise of the Messiah was to the house of David,

and this was known to every Jew, we need not be surprised

that families, descended from that king, preserved family



v. 16 - "Jesus, who is called the Christ" -


Jesus, a form of Joshua which means

"Jehovah is help"


This begins the history which tells of this Jesus

as the specially Anointed One of God, the true

Messiah, of which all others were but a figure.


In Jesus were fulfilled all the prophecies of the

Old Testament which the Jews referred to as

Messiah and for whose appearance all the pious

Jews in Israel were EVER LOOKING!


Compare Heb. 9:28


The world at the time of the birth of Christ had done as much as it

could do without the new influence Christ brought to it - No government

had at its disposal as much command for regeneration than Rome had,

its enlightened policy, bold statesmanship - the Greek culture had done

its best - in the East, Buddha, Confucius, Zoroaster had done all that

human wisdom and purity could do to regenerate life - nothing had succeeded -

the Jewish Law had gone to seed - there was a general feeling throughout the world

that it needed help from above and it was given in the person of Christ-


Compare modern world and its plight and the

Second Coming of Christ on the horizon.


vs. 18-25 - the object here is to show that Messiah in

            origin was of God and not of man.


The foretelling that a son would be born, that this

Son would be the expected Savior and showing from

prophecy that such union of God with man was no

unheard of supposition, but the fulfillment of ancient

thought, suggested by God.


v. 20 - "that which is conceived in her is of the Holy

            Ghost" - insisting that the Child was by origin

            Divine.      Luke 1:35  compare Gen. 1:2b


Both Testaments begin with a miracle - a world of order

and beauty arising out of chaos is a miracle as truly as

is the birth of a divinely human Savior by the Divine

overshadowing of Mary!



He is born "not of the will of a man, nor of the will of

the flesh" but the holy will of God! - John 1:13


Mary was the chosen woman - Luke 1:28-30


It was the task of Israel to provide a virgin that could

be the mother of the Son of God -


It was not the task of Israel to provide a Savior -

God Himself "will provide a lamb" - Gen. 22:8


This holy and immaculate conception is the

profoundest unity of nature and spirit - God and man!


Mary is to be the medium of the new creation!


vs. 19-20 Joseph was insistent on his personal and

            family purity but was delicate and thoughtful

            to the one he loved.


vs. 21-23 - "He shall save His people" - He and no other!


He in His own person -  I John 2:2 - "by Himself" - Heb. 1:3

and by virtue of who He was - John 2:23-25


Unfortunately, the last thing that many people want from

Christ is to be saved from their sin - they would love to be

delivered from its pains and penalties but sin itself they love

and have no wish to abandon it. 


"from their sins" - full salvation from sin is the final part of



"Now all this was done"  - that human nature might be

cleansed by its union with the Divine nature in the Person

of Jesus Christ - The Messiah!


"they shall call His name Emmanuel .... God with us"


vs. 24-25 - Joseph's obedience and restraint


"and he called his name JESUS"




                                    Matthew 2



This chapter contains four references to the birth of Christ

fulfilling scripture:


            a. the place of His birth - Bethlehem - vs. 1-12

            b. His stay in Egypt - vs. 13-15

            c. the slaughter of the innocents - vs. 16-18

            d. His dwelling at Nazareth - vs. 19-23


vs. 1-12 - Christ receives the homage of representatives

            of the heathen world.



"wise men from the east" - the learned need a Savior as

much as the ignorant.


They were the leaders of the long procession of Gentiles who,

drawn by grace, have sought the Lord.


Wise men seek Him still! - Christmas card refrain


They traveled far -we must persevere


From the House of Bread (Bethlehem) came forth the

True Bread, the Bread of Life!


"Where is He?" - not "whether there is"


v. 8 - Herod - goes not to seek - sends others - he will come

            later - he puts off the great work of life but never

            gets it done - "Today is the day of salvation" -

            finally the end comes according to the scripture in

            Jeremiah 8:20 - "The harvest is past, the summer

            is ended and we are not saved"


v. 9 - "And lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went

            before them"  - guidance


God will not leave us to grope in the darkness when we

are seeking Him by faith - the great principle - "Seek

and ye shall find!"



God's will becomes clearer and more definite as the

faithful Christian draws nearer to the end of his journey.


They had gone to great trouble and expense to see Jesus -

contrast the Jewish people


An awe was on the people - there was a universal expectation

of the Messiah - "Who may abide the day of His coming? and

who shall stand when He appeareth" - Malachi 3:2


That awe soon passed away, the visit of the Magi was soon

forgotten, the warning was lost, Jerusalem knew not the hour

of her visitation!


v. 11 - "they fell down and worshipped Him" - not the virgin



They gave gifts:  frankincense - offered to God in the temple -

                                                      it confessed Christ's Divinity.

                             gold - offered as to a king

                             myrrh - was used in preparing a person to

                                           be buried


v. 12 - God warned them in a dream.






vs. 16-18 - The innocent victims - they were martyrs indeed -

            they died for Christ, unconsciously, but yet for Him,

            to insure His safety, that He might live to die for them,

            to save them, with all His people, through His most

            precious blood!


v. 19 - "But when Herod was dead" - Wickedness, however

            gilded by rank and riches must end in misery,

            probably in this world, certainly in the world

            to come.


v. 21 - Joseph's continued obedience




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