Moab was in great dread of the people, because they were many. Numbers 22:3
Today we begin the story that leads to Balaam’s plunge to disaster, though we will not actually meet him until tomorrow.
Things had been going well for God’s people. They had been wandering in the desert for a long time, but at long last it seemed that they were making some progress.
They had not yet entered the land of Canaan that God had promised to them, but they had moved into the area on the east side of the river Jordan, and God had given them great victories. Numbers 21:33-35 tells us about the battle of Edrei, where God’s people defeated two kings, Sihon and Og, and after that victory they took possession of the land.
Then in Numbers 22:1, the Israelites traveled to the plains of Moab and camped along the Jordan across from Jericho. That made the King of Moab to the south extremely nervous. He had seen what happened to the Amorites, and now this vast mobile army of about 2 million people was camped just on the borders of his territory.
Now the fact is that he had nothing to worry about. God had specifically said to Moses, “Do not harass the Moabites or provoke them to war, for I will not give you any part of their land” (Deut. 2:9, NIV). But the book of Numbers is all about what happens when people don’t act in faith, and so it’s not surprising to find Balak, the king of the Moabites, in a state of panic.
Moab was terrified, indeed they were filled with dread. “This horde is going to lick up everything around us, as an ox licks up the grass of the field” (Num. 22:4, NIV).
Balak felt that he didn’t have a chance. It was obvious that the blessing of God was on these people. He was with them and He blessed what they were doing.
Have you ever been terrified, but then later realized that you didn’t have anything to worry about?