In the new Testament, the Bible mentioned Balaam three times with some unpleasant attributes attached to his name. Let’s see these attributes in the following verses of the scripture; 2 Peter 2: 15 – 17, Revelation 2: 14 and Jude 11.
We encountered Balaam first in the Old Testament; Num. 22 – 24. On their way to Canaan, the Israelites had to pass through the land of Moab. However, Israel’s reputation of victory and wonders have gone ahead of them, and the Moabites became exceedingly afraid. Of course, considering how the Israelites crossed the Red Sea and many other conquests and miracles that happened, and more importantly the great multitude they were; that King Balak and the Moabites were afraid could be understood. Balak, being who he was; a man not connected to the God of Israel. A man who thought he needed to have control of the issues of his life, a man who trusted in his material resources and human circle of influence; he decided to protect himself and his people. What did he do?
“… And Balak the son of Zippor was king of the Moabites at that time. Then he sent messengers to Balaam the son of Beor at Pethor, which is near the River in the land of the sons of his people to call him, say: look, a people has come from Egypt. See, they cover the face of the earth, and are settling to me! Therefore, please come at once, curse this people for me, for they are too mighty for me. Perhaps I shall be able to defeat them and drive them out of the land, for I know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed.” Num. 22:4-6
It is often said that offense is the best defense, that seems Balak’s approach. This is a typical example of a person in panic and desperation. He was just reacting to happenings and circumstances around him. It is very unfortunately, there’s too much Balak in many of us. We don’t take actions until we have troubles at our door. We don’t pray until we have challenges. It is Satan that inspires us to fast, and when we do, he stretches us until we are fatigued and lose grace. We declare marathon fasting out of panic and desperation. However, it is interesting to note that Balak didn’t need to go all this trouble to curse Israel. Israel wasn’t a problem for him. If he had known, Israel was a blessing to him. He was afraid because he was ignorant. Panic gripped his heart because he was not aware of God’s provision for him and his people concerning this situation. Many Christians, just like Balak take wrong decisions and go to wrong places for solutions when they are driven to desperation. When people are afraid, it is because they are not certain of their fate over certain issues. Balak was afraid whereas God had already made provision for the protection and security of the Moabites while Israel passes through their midst. In Deuteronomy 2: 1 – 12, Moses reminded the Israelites about their journey through the wilderness; he recalled God instructed them not to touch certain people. One of them was the Moabites.
“Then the Lord spoke to me, do not harass Moab, nor contend with them in battle, for I will not give you any of their land as a possession, because I have given Ar to the descendsnts of Lot as a possession.” Deut. 2: 9.
Can you see the mercy and thoughtfulness of God, even in Balak’s disconnection from God; God still had him and his people in mind. You see, had King Balak this information, he would not have hired an off the track prophet to curse a people God had blessed and who were made to be a blessing to him. A lot of folks in the church today are so confused. They run from one prophet to another for solution instead of personally seeking the face of God. At the end, they have several falsehood and conflicting and confusing information about their lives. They are Balaks who are unaware of God’s intention for their lives.
Who are the Moabites?
May be at this point we should digress a little, who are the Moabites? After the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot with his two daughters escaped to a little city called Zoar and ended up in a cave with his two daughters. The two daughters, though they had left Sodom and Gomorrah, the spirit and the influence of Sodom and Gomorrah was still in them. With an excuse, they manipulated their father to sleep with them and they had children. Gen. 19: 31 – 38 … our father is old, and there is no man on the earth to come in to us. We know this wasn’t true, that there was no man on earth except their father. One, they relocated to a city called Zoar and there were surely eligible men there. Two, they knew there was Abraham, to whom they could have gone who had men servants and soldiers. This is how many make excuses for their sins today. The truth is that, such people though may have left Sodom and Gomorrah, but Sodom and Gomorrah didn’t leave them. People always claim they had no other choice than to do what they did, the fact is that they only chose the easiest way out. These two daughters knocked their father’s sense off with alcohol and did the abominable. At the end; “…both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father. The first born bore a son and called his name Moab; he is the father of the Moabites to this day. And the younger, she also bore a son and called his name Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the people of Ammon to this day.” Gen. 19: 36. Now we know that King Balak and his folks were the descendants of Lot, the nephew of Abraham. No wonder God had preference for them too because He is never partial. He never blesses one at the expense of the other. He is the God of abundance, he has enough for each person and His supplies never run dry. Though Israel was chosen by God, He does not neglect others or love them lesser. He is a just God.
Child of God, may I tell you that God still has you in mind. Though you may be in church but long ago disconnected from him; He loves you still. He doesn’t love you more because you are connected right now to him and he doesn’t love you less because you are disconnected at the moment from him; He loves you because of His covenant. Unfortunately, Balak and the Moabites didn’t know this, or they didn’t believe it. No, it was just too good to be true. Often, we do not know how great care God takes to protect us and provide for us daily and always. We do not have an idea how meticulously God had taken care of the situation long before it happened. But because we are often too lazy to search for the plan God has for our lives, we are often unaware of God’s mind on certain issues of our lives, we become desperate, fearful and take wrong decisions. Ignorance of the word of God is the most potent weapon Satan uses to destroy believers. When people are ignorant of the world of God and not correctly connected to Him, fear rules their lives. When fear comes in, Satan has an entrance to control their minds, thoughts, words, and actions. When all these are in place, there is no way you could take a right decision because decisions taken out of fear and desperation mostly are wrong, end in misery and regret.
Who was Balaam?
- He was a prophet of God who had power and results. Num. 22: 6; whoever he curses is cursed and whoever is blessed is blessed. So, we may say he was a prophet with a prophetic precision.
- He heard from God, had discussions with God and God pays him visits. Vs 9 and 20.
- He had an unusual, personal relationship with God, because in verse 18, he called God; the Lord my God.
Unfortunately, despite these, the bible still warns us to beware of him. Why must we be on the watchout for Balaam?
- He loves wages of unrighteousness – for Balaam, the end justifies the means. No matter how you get it, he tells you; you must get it. Just go for it, just get it. Balaam is drawn by the glory of blessing, and he tells you not just one road leads to the market. Just take any road; the most important is that you get there. Balaam would bless your crooked and unrighteous business and dubious ways of life, as long as you bring him a bountiful appreciation. But he would not tell you, there would be sorrow waiting at the end of the roller coaster you are riding. Greed and selfishness rule his life. Balaam is ready to put aside his calling or his bible and faith in God aside for a while to get a benefit he’s not supposed to enjoy. He’s a Christian, yet he loves the world and sin. Balaam is a Christian who puts the Holy Spirit in mute mode whenever he wants to compromise faith and the scripture.
- He gives sin a consideration – he knew right away he was called to bless and not to curse. He knew Israelites were not to be cursed because they were on a mandate journey and God was in them and with then, yet he said he would pray about something he knew he should say an outright “No” to. There are certain things we know we don’t need to pray about, God’s instruction is clear about it; “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” 1 Thess. 5: 22. The instruction is not “pray about it.” So why do you still pray if you should go to the cinema with a man or woman who is not your spouse? Do you pray if you should jump into a moving train track or not? So why do you want to pray to know if you should steal or not? If you do that, then Balaam has captured you.
- Balaam loves the company of ungodly people – he feels comfortable among them, he may at first not do what they do, but he enjoys what they do and shares in the benefits of what they do. Their presence does not disturb him, and he welcomes them when they are on visit. He gives them his resources to use in the name of tolerance. Balaam won’t ever openly condemn unrighteousness because he does it in the secret. Balaam would always love and enjoy the company of Balak. He covets the riches of Balak and wants to have it while still wearing the garment of a prophet. This is why many believers can no longer speak or preach against evil in the society, they have wined and dined with the perpetrators, they have shared in the bounty of iniquity. Their conscience is silenced, their mouth is sealed and they are no longer bold like a lion to speak as oracles of God in righteousness.
- Balaam sins willingly and deliberately – though God made it clear to him the first time that he should not go and Israel should not be cursed, with the offer of more material things he heard his own greedy and covetous voice telling him to go, and he claimed he heard God. It was a deliberate disobedience and willful sin. Therefore, God became angry with him in verse 22. God’s anger rests upon every deliberate and calculated sin. That verse says God became an adversary, enemy, opponent against him. Yet, several times he made attempts to do what God said he should not do. His greed for material and perishable things has overpowered him and he was ready to sacrifice his ministry to satisfy the ungodly. When sin has mastered a person, he’s ready to do even the unthinkable.
- Balaam teaches others to sin and lead them away from God instead of leading them to God. This is the most dangerous part of Balaam. “And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods. And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel.” Num. 25: 1 – 3. The result of this was that it wasn’t Moabites doing the killing, but Israelites had to kill Israelites; 24,000 people died. What Balak couldn’t get done, sin achieved it. How did this happen? Numbers 31:16 gave us the secret, it says; “Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD.” You see, Balaam a priest of God counselled Balak; taught him the tricks how to make Israelites offend God so that God would fight them on behalf of Balak. Balak would make you look stupid if you want to be righteous. He would show you tricks and tips you didn’t know they exist to make you become enemy of God. He knew the only thing that could make God turn His face away from his own is sin. If there’s no sin in place, Satan has no authority and no point of entrance in the life of anyone. Balaam knew this secret, when sin is in place, the people are vulnerable and powerless.
It is my prayer that our eyes and herats of understanding shall be opened and we shall receive the capacity to do His words in Jesus name.