“I shall see Him, but not now: I shall behold Him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth” (Numbers 24:17).
A parable is not an illustrative story, as most people think, but a “dark saying” (note Psalm 78:2) designed to reveal some hidden truth only to those who are prepared to understand (note Jesus’ assertion in Matthew 13:10–17).
The first reference in the Bible to parables is in connection with the seven parables of the false prophet Balaam (Numbers 23:7,18; 24:3,15,20,21,23). The central parable of these seven verses is the one in our text speaking of a mysterious Star out of Jacob and a Sceptre out of Israel, both the Star and the Sceptre representing a great person coming in the far future, destined both to guide and to rule all nations.
The wise men of the East somehow recognized His star rising, and came seeking the King. The star they saw, appearing perhaps in one of the constellations long associated by ancient peoples with the primeval promise of a coming redeemer/king—was but a type of the true “bright and morning star” (Revelation 22:16) and the “day star” that one day shall “arise in your hearts” (II Peter 1:19), that “light of the world” (John 8:12) who would be “the light of life” for all people who follow Him in faith.
He is also the Sceptre, the King of all kings, that “rod of iron” by which all nations must one day be ruled (Revelation 19:15) in righteousness. The babe in Bethlehem became the suffering servant on the cross, then rose from the grave like a bright and morning star out of the darkness and will also very soon be acknowledged as “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (I Timothy 6:15). HMM