Summary: The story begins in Numbers 22 and 23 as the children of Israel camped near the Jordan River across from Jericho. The people living nearby were afraid of them. Balak, the king of Moabites, knew that the Israelites had defeated the Amorites. So he sent for a prophet named Balaam to come curse the Israelites. The Lord warned Balaam not to go, then told him to only speak the words that He put in his mouth. As Balaam traveled to meet Balak, his donkey was stopped by the angel of the Lord standing in the way. Balaam finally realized that the Lord was giving him another warning. When Balaam reached Balak, he tried to curse the Israelites. Three times he gave a blessing instead of a curse, saying the words the Lord put in his mouth. Numbers 24 tells us what happened next. Balaam was inspired by the Lord to give another blessing. And he spoke the beautiful words foretelling the Lord’s birth.
Read the prophecy in Numbers 24:17.
Ideas for discussion
- Balaam wanted to do as Balak wished, because he wanted the reward. What are some of the ways the Lord told him not to curse the Israelites?
- This story shows us how the Lord is always trying to turn us away from doing what is wrong. But it is up to us whether we obey Him or not.
- How would this prophecy help the wise men from the east know that the Lord was born? (They looked for a star to appear when the Lord was born on earth.)
- Why do you think a scepter was the other symbol that Balaam’s prophecy mentions? (A scepter is a sign of a king. When the wise men searched for the Lord, they thought He would be an earthly king. They asked “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:2). Really the Lord would be the King of all heaven and earth.)
- Hundreds of years after the prophecy was given, wise men saw the star—the sign that the Lord was born. And they set out to find Him. “The star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy” (Matthew 2:9-10).
- How can we find the Lord by looking for stars? Stars symbolize knowledge of good and truth, especially knowledge about the Lord. If we look to the Lord in His Word, we can find the stars of truth that can help us find true happiness in life—now and forever.
Read more about Balaam’s prophecy of the Lord’s birth:
- “The Christmas Star” by Frederick Schnarr
As we think about stars at Christmas time, let us invite the Lord into our hearts and minds so that His Christmas star will light the way to heaven for us.
- “Wise Men from the East” by William Whitehead
This talk offers a message for us all. If you wish to be wise and happy, follow the Lord’s Star which is knowledge from the Lord’s Word.
- “The Star of Bethlehem” by Patrick A. Rose
The Lord came down to earth to help us and show us the way to heaven. This is why the wise men saw a beautiful star in the sky when the Lord was born. It was a sign that the Lord had come to show people the direction they should go.
Projects and activities for various ages:
- Balaam’s Prophecy Coloring Page by Robert Glenn
Illustrates “a Star shall come out of Jacob” (Numbers 24:17), one of the prophecies of the Lord’s coming.
- The Story of Balaam and Balak (ages 3-7)
Make a star and a scepter, then dramatize the story of Balaam according to the attached script.
- Lacing Star (ages 4-8)
Print this star onto card stock, punch holes around the edge, then use yarn with sparkly (metallic) strands to “sew” around the edge of the star to make it sparkle.
- Stars of Light Ornaments (ages 8-12)
Make beautiful star ornaments with quotes from the Lord's Word.
- Make Star Cookies
Ideas for decorating rolled cookies cut in the shape of stars
- Star of David Paper Snowflake (ages 9-and up) by John Odhner
Print pattern to fold and cut into this beautiful star snowflake.
- Concentric Stars Paper Snowflake (ages 9-and up) by John Odhner
Print pattern to fold and cut into an intricate star snowflake.
- Five Point Star (ages 9-14)
Directions for folding and cutting paper to make a five-pointed star.
- Look to the Stars
Looks at truths - bright stars - that help us find the Lord.
- Let Your Light Shine Affirmation Stars
This activity affirms what is good in those you love, focusing on qualities and actions that "shine like stars."
As we celebrate this wonderful time, we can follow the star of knowledge about the Lord God Jesus Christ to find our own “exceeding great joy”.
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