Who was Balaam?
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Balaam the son of Beor was once a good man and a prophet of God. But he apostatized and yielded his soul to covetousness, yet still professed to be a servant of the Most High (Numbers 22—24). Balak king of Moab, who opposed Israel while traveling to Canaan, sent messengers to Balaam that he may come to curse Israel in exchange for rewards. Balaam wanted to do it for he “loved the wages of unrighteousness” (2 Peter 2:15 also Jude 1:11).
In the night season the angel of God came to Balaam with the message, “You must not put a curse on those people, because they are blessed” (Numbers 22:12). So, the false prophet declined to go. Then, King Balak sent “other officials, more numerous and more distinguished than the first” (verse 16). The false prophet asked God again if it was okay for him to go. Seeing that the man was set on going God said to him, “Go with them, but do only what I tell you” (Numbers 22: 20).
The following morning, Balaam rode his donkey and set for Moab (v. 21). God sent His angel to hinder him. The donkey saw the angel with a sword and three times shifted from his path. But the false prophet, who didn’t see the angel, was very angry at his donkey and beat it. “Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth” (verse 28), and it complained to man about the beatings. “Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn” (verse 31). The donkey by shifting from the path spared the man’s life. And The angel of the Lord again gave him the command that he was only to speak what God told him to speak on behalf of Israel (verses 33–35).
In Moab, King Balak took Balaam to Bamoth Baal and told him to curse the Israelites (Numbers 22:41). After offering fourteen sacrifices on seven altars, the false prophet opened his mouth and a blessing came over Israel instead of a curse: “How can I curse those whom God has not cursed? How can I denounce those whom the Lord has not denounced?” (Numbers 23:8).
Thinking that Balaam was intimidated with seeing the camp of Israel, King Balak took him to another location on Pisgah. Again the false prophet offered fourteen animals, he opened his mouth and a blessing came out: “I have received a command to bless; he has blessed, and I cannot change it” (Numbers 23:20).
Balak tried another attempt and took his prophet to the top of Peor. There the false prophet offered fourteen animals and blessed Israel again saying: “How beautiful are your tents, Jacob, your dwelling places, Israel!” (Numbers 24:5). And he gave yet another Messianic prophecy saying, “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 people of Sheth” (Numbers 24:17).
Unable to actually curse the children of Israel, the false prophet counseled the Moabites to lure Israel into committing idolatry (Numbers 31:16). He knew that the only way God would not protect the children of Israel is if they disobeyed Him. The Moabites did exactly what the false prophet advised and Israel fell into apostasy and worshiped Baal and committed fornication with Midianite women. As a result, God sent a plague and twenty-four thousand men perished (Numbers 25:1–9). Eventually, the false prophet was killed during one of the wars that Joshua led out in during the conquest of the land of Canaan (Joshua 13:22).
Today, God warns His end time church to beware of false prophets like Balaam, who are more concerned in advancing their own interests and not those of the flock. These false teachers encourage the practice of immorality and sin and lead many astray: “There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality” (Revelation 2:14). Of these we are warned to stay away from. Thankfully, the Lord promises His protection to those who obey.
In His service,