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288. The Error of Balaam PART ONE

This issue looks at The Error of Balaam PART ONE.
SINCE YOU ASKED
The book of Numbers contains a very interesting account of a prophet named Balaam who was contacted by representatives of King Balak of Moab to curse Israel (Numbers 22-24). The Israelites were encamped on the plains of Moab, causing Moab’s king to fear for the safety of his nation. Despite the offer of great wealth if he cursed Israel, Balaam’s first response is to tell the representatives that he can speak only the words God puts in his mouth. God says neither to go with them nor to curse Israel, for they are blessed. After Balaam relays God’s response, Balak sends another delegation, this time more numerous and more distinguished than the first, and offering even greater wealth. Balaam responds by telling them that he will see “what else” God may say to Him.
 
Knowing that Balaam really wants to go with them, God allows him to return to King Balak with the delegation. On the way, God shows His displeasure with Balaam’s decision by sending the angel of the Lord (a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ Himself) to block Balaam’s path. While Balaam’s spiritual insensitivity blinds him to the Angel, his donkey sees the mighty warrior angel and on three occasions tries to avoid Him. After Balaam beats the donkey for the third time, God allows the donkey to speak (Numbers 22:28-35) and defend her actions. When God opens Balaam’s spiritual eyes, he sees the Angel, confesses his sin, and offers to go back home. The angel tells him to continue on with the men, but to speak only the words He shall tell him.
 
On three separate occasions, Balaam is given an opportunity to curse Israel, but he proclaims a blessing instead along with some vivid descriptions of what God will do to the nations that come against His people. 

AS I SEE IT
The first time you read through these three chapters, Balaam looks pretty good. It seems like he resisted the temptation and remained true to his calling, proclaiming only the words of God. However, as you continue reading through the book of Numbers, you discover a dark side of the prophet. Numbers 31:16 tells us that the council of Balaam had caused the sons of Israel to trespass against God, resulting in a great plague. Verse 8 tells us that when the sons of Israel killed the five kings of Midian, they took out Balaam, too.
 
A few New Testament accounts shed even more light of Balaam. Jude 11 speaks of the “error or Balaam,” which 2 Peter 2:15 explains was “loving the wages of unrighteousness. Remember Balaam’s response to the second delegation? He would see “what else” God may have to say. Apparently, Balaam was hoping God would open a door that would allow his to get his hands on the riches being offered. Knowing this, God gave him just enough rope to hang himself. He allowed him to go and to speak His words. Knowing the outcome and the result, He also allowed him to offer ungodly counsel to His people.
 
The first lesson we can learn from this account is that we must be very discerning when considering the council or anyone claiming to represent God. While the words may sound right, look closely at his actions. Examine his life and lifestyle to see where his heart really lies. We should also do the same for ourselves. Remember the error of Balaam.

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