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Unwitting and Unwilling


John 11:49-52 tells us, And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.” Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad.

This is an amazing text. It demonstrates, quite emphatically the sovereignty of God over men’s wills – even over the wicked. Even enemies of God, who hate Him and wish to rebel against His will, are still under His sovereign power and cannot so much as move apart from Him. Moreover, they are often used, unwittingly and unwillingly, as instruments for the very plans of God they wish to frustrate.


But this was not the first time that unwilling lips have been made instruments in pronouncing God’s plans. Balaam, planning to curse God’s people, finds that all he can do is bless them! He even declares the unchangeableness of God’s blessing: “God is not a man that he should lie, nor the son of man that he should repent” (Numbers 23:19) He further states, “Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and he hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it. He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel” (Numbers 23:20-21a).


Here’s where it gets interesting. How is Balaam’s unwitting and unwilling prophecy to take place? Caiaphas will supply the ground upon which Balaam’s blessing will come to pass. It is fascinating that Balaam, an unbeliever, was overruled by God and gave one of the most beautiful Messianic prophecies in all of Scripture. Then, centuries later, Caiaphas, a Christ-rejecter, was overruled by God to provide the fulfillment of Balaam’s prophecy.

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