06 March 2009

Balaam – 3.6.09

1 Corinthians 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

The Bible, especially the Old Testament, is full of examples – both good and bad – for the purpose of showing us, among other things, God's judgment on the wicked and His blessing on the righteous.

One such example on the negative side is found in the (true) story of a man named Balaam in Numbers 22-24. His error is obvious to anyone who reads the account. Jude 1:11 identifies it as as running greedily after reward. 2 Peter 2:15 says he loved the wages of unrighteousness.

His story is a perfect illustration of the truth of 1 Timothy 6:9-10 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Here's the gist of the record. The nation of Israel is advancing on their way into Canaan, and Balak, the king of Moab, wants to hire ($$) Balaam the prophet to pronounce a curse upon them. Balaam took the matter to the Lord and had to refuse the offer because God had already blessed Israel.

But Balak wouldn't take no for an answer. So he sent to Balaam a second time and stepped up the pressure by sending more honorable princes and offering a more sizable reward. When Balaam takes the matter to the Lord again in Numbers 22:18-20, he is told that he can go with the men unto Balak, but he can only speak the words that God gives him.

Then the Bible says that when he got up in the morning and went with them, God's anger was kindled against Balaam (vv. 21-22). I didn't quite understand why that was so when it seemed that God had given the OK in v. 20.

But what I failed to notice was that the approval God granted (v. 20) was a conditional one – If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them…

In v. 21, Balaam rises up and goes, BUT THERE'S NEVER ANY MENTION OF THE CONDITION OF GOD'S APPROVAL BEING MET. And so God's anger was rightly kindled.

It's pretty obvious that Balaam's mind was made up as to what he wanted to do (get the reward $$), and he was looking for any excuse to go forward with his own desires.

He got the excuse he was looking for, and there's not much doubt that he was compensated for his service (he couldn't curse Israel, but he did help Balak Revelation 2:14 cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication).

In looking to this example, may we be reminded to approach God and His word with an honest and humble heart that says Psalm 143:10 Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness. And may we be reminded the rewards God grants to the faithful far outweigh the destruction (1 Timothy 6:9-10) that comes with the wages of unrighteousness.

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