I've been thinking about Balaam - (you know, the one who the donkey spoke to). During my last teaching on the kingdom series I mentioned Balaam to be a "disobedient prophet ". As I searched the Scriptures I realized that I was wrong – Balaam was not a prophet of God at all . He was a prophet of Baal. He was a well-known soothsayer of his day who when he blessed others they were blessed, and when he cursed them they were cursed.
Under Moses leadership, the Israelites were subduing lands . In Numbers 22 they were surrounding Moab. They had just defeated the Ammorites . Because the people of Moab were filled with great fear , Balak their king, sent for Balaam (with promise of great reward) to curse Israel. Even though Balaam was not a prophet of God, Almighty God spoke to him . God told Balaam that he could not curse what God himself had blessed . And throughout the course of events Balaam ended up blessing Israel several times and even cursing Moab . King Balak was angry and sent Balaam back without his reward.
What happened next in the book of Numbers doesn't mention anything about Balaam . But I know exactly what he did . I'm sure he must've been angry that he did not get his reward nor could he do what the king desired of him. Maybe he thought, "I know what I'll do. I'll have the women of Moab entice the men of Israel ". Numbers 25 tells us that the men of Israel began to eat food sacrificed to idols. They were invited by the women of Moab to offer their sacrifices on their altars. They began to mingle and ultimately commit sexual immorality with those women. God sent a plague among Israel because of it.
How do I know that Balaam was behind this? Because Jesus said so in Revelation 2 . He was speaking to the church of Pergamum saying that some of them held on to the teaching of Balaam, " enticing the Israelites to sin so they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality . "
Balaam ultimately died at the hand of the Israelites in Joshua 13. His name is also mentioned in Deuteronomy, Nehemiah, Micah, II Peter, and Jude. In fact , his name is mentioned 57 times in the Bible . That says to me that we need to know about him... More than being the one a donkey spoke to.
Peter warned the church of people among them who had "wandered off to follow the way of Balaam". Jude said there were people who had "slipped in among them perverting grace and denying Jesus as their only sovereign". Both Peter and Jude assumed the readers knew all about Balaam . Doesn't that tell us that we ought to as well?
When we see the name Balaam, we ought to think about two things :
1. We are blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places. The same blessing God gave Israel belongs to us. And nothing and no one can curse what God has blessed .
2. Even in the church are those who are living in error. The error of Balaam, I believe, is the enticing spirit of this age that says, "everyone's doing it . There's nothing wrong. " The truth is that premarital sex is sin, living together before marriage is sin, homosexuality is sin. We can be enticed by those even in the church whom we greatly admire and respect to practice sexual immorality - being disobedient to God's word . God has given a beautiful place of sexual expression and that is in marriage . We too, must beware of following the way or error of Balaam.
Oh, and here's another thing to think about when you think of Balaam...the GRACE OF GOD....God cursed Moab in such a way that a Moabite could never enter the congregation of Israel. Yet one of the greatest and, I think, most beautiful love stories in the Bible, tells how Ruth (a Moabite!) became the wife of Boaz an Israelite of great integrity... and ultimately, the great grandmother of David!
Balaam...definitely more than just a man who conversed with a donkey!