omit the Scripture for reasons of space, assuming that any reader of this
lesson series can find a Bible somewhere about.)
Israelites are at last approaching the Promised Land. It is no surprise,
therefore, that Satan will set before them the toughest obstacle. Which is?
deadliest opposition to the cause of Christ is always the enemy within. It
sometimes comes as a surprise to find that God is worshiped at this time in
other nations. In this instance there is a prophet named Balaam from the
Moabites. Moab, you may recall, was one of the incestuous sons of Lot. The
knowledge of Jehovah was no doubt passed down the generations from this time.
But as often enough happens, it has become mixed with the pagan religions
is this such an obstacle? Think back to the legends of King Arthur, in
particular Merlin the Magician. In the earlier versions of the story, Merlin
has a choice: remain with Arthur, and watch his magic decline as the church
increases, or go with Mordred – so that Merlin’s power would increase in that
A similar situation confronts Balaam. Balaam is no Merlin.
Balaam will side with Baal and lead some of the Israelites astray.
It’s a choice that costs Balaam his life.
man with two masters…
he is in control. Balaam practices divination. Roughly speaking, this is like
reading tea leaves – a practice which replaces the truth with false confidence
in dead, wet agriculture. Despite this, however, Balaam is given prophetic
vision from God. Thus Balaam can see himself as being in control; if he
doesn’t like what God says, goat entrails might provide a more satisfactory
can see this in the little episode with the donkey. He is so sure of himself
both as prophet and sorcerer that it doesn’t phase him that the donkey talks.
That’s a man who thinks he’s in charge
been given the gift of prophecy, Balaam decides to make it his source of
income. We must make a distinction here. It is acceptable (and marked as such
in the Scripture) for a man of the Gospel to earn his living at it. But it’s
not acceptable if he does so primarily for the money. The laborer is
worthy of his hire, but he should not be a hireling.
may now examine the oracles of Balaam. Here are four which seem of interest
can I curse
Num 23:8 NIV
How can I curse
those whom God has not cursed?
How can I denounce
those whom the LORD has not denounced?
is a surprising statement from Balaam. The vision he has seen tells him that
he cannot go against what God has revealed to him. Divination was under his
control; God is not. It is not surprising that he thought he could manipulate
God. It’s normal human behavior. How many times have you received a chain
letter/e-mail which told you to pray this prayer, pass it on to twenty-seven of
your closest friends and thus receive a miracle?
of magic concerns the concept of a curse. Indeed, God cursed the ground for
Adam’s sin, and witch doctors and shamans ever since have been cursing
everything else. Don’t fear the witch doctor; fear the living God.
is not a man
Num 23:19 NIV
God is not a man, that he should lie,
nor a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act?
Does he promise and not fulfill?
God’s fulfillment takes a while. As we shall see, one of these prophecies
concerns the Christ – who doesn’t arrive for another 1500 years or so. But God
is eternal – not affected by time. His character does not change, therefore.
He is righteousness eternally – and therefore He cannot lie. He is Almighty,
and if He says it’s going to happen, count on it.
vision from the Almighty
Num 24:4 NIV
the oracle of one who hears the words of God,
who sees a vision from the Almighty, 
who falls prostrate, and whose eyes are opened:
you’ve ever wondered just what a vision of God would seem like:
comes with power. “Almighty” in this verse is Shaddai, a word
specifically translated that way, not a translation of one of the names of
is a vivid experience – power to make you fall prostrate, but with your
like this must be handled with care – even if the vision is over three thousand
star will rise
Num 24:17 NIV
"I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not near.
A star will come out of Jacob;
a scepter will rise out of Israel.
He will crush the foreheads of Moab,
the skulls  of  all the sons of Sheth. 
is the evidence of it all: Balaam sees the coming of the Christ. The is the
point of this entire history, that is, here is God’s point. He tells you that
Christ is coming, but only after He has made it clear that:
can’t be manipulated. His purposes cannot be altered.
comes from His eternal nature. In short, this is plan A and there is no
has the power to bring it to pass.
well and good, but what’s the point for us today? The New Testament gives us
three passages that warn us about Balaam’s ways.
way of Balaam
2Pe 2:12-15 NIV
But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like brute
beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like
beasts they too will perish. (13) They will
be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is
to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their
pleasures while they feast with you.
(14) With eyes full of adultery, they never
stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed--an accursed
brood! (15) They have left the straight way
and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Beor, who loved the wages
this about? It refers to those in the church whose ways are blatantly carnal,
yet they feel themselves perfectly justified. Peter mentions two sins in
which is as common as mud in our time.
which is often honored in our time.
key phrase in this is “loved the wages of wickedness.” What does this mean?
Think of a ghetto drug dealer who is proud of himself – after all, he’s driving
the Cadillac, right? Things that decent men would be ashamed of, such men are
proud of. In the church, too.
error of Balaam
Jud 1:10-11 NIV
Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what
things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals--these are the
very things that destroy them. (11) Woe to
them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into
Balaam's error; they have been destroyed in Korah's rebellion.
does an evil man do when confronted with things spiritual, things he cannot
understand? He abuses them. He mocks them. He treats them like a joke.
Christians today are familiar with this; almost no part of Christianity has
escaped the mockery of the cool. They belittle what they do not understand.
a form of pride. It is a sad thing to be proud of your failings.
teaching of Balaam
Rev 2:14 NIV
Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold
to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by
eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality.
this for a nightmare: you have teachers in the church who are teaching people
how to lead others astray. It’s bad to be on Satan’s team to start with – but
as a coach?