BALAAM FOR HIRE

In the last lesson I pointed out how we can be in error to not hear the warnings of others, even our animals.  We can profit from hearing their opinions, as their experience is gathered from a different point of view.  In the same way we need to remember that our lessons too have value.  We will meet people who will not listen to warnings from us.  

Israel did not strike the first blow in these wars.  But they had assurance from God that HE had given their land to Israel.  These Canaanites were people who had already been judged and found lacking by the God who created them.  Israel had reason for confidence on the promises of the God who had already shown his miracles to them against the Egyptian army.  They were without guilt because they were on a mission from God, and the enemy had attempted to land the first blow.  King Balak set a plan in motion to undermine this advancing army though.  They enlisted the help of the prophet of God; Balaam.

And when Balak heard that Balaam was come, he went out to meet him unto a city of Moab, which is in the border of Arnon, which is in the utmost coast.  And Balak said unto Balaam, Did I not earnestly send unto thee to call thee? wherefore camest thou not unto me? am I not able indeed to promote thee to honour?  And Balaam said unto Balak, Lo, I am come unto thee: have I now any power at all to say any thing? the word that God putteth in my mouth, that shall I speak.  And Balaam went with Balak, and they came unto Kirjathhuzoth.  And Balak offered oxen and sheep, and sent to Balaam, and to the princes that were with him.  And it came to pass on the morrow, that Balak took Balaam, and brought him up into the high places of Baal, that thence he might see the utmost part of the people.  Num 22:36-41 (KJV) 

Balak took the man of God to the worship places of their god Baal, we know as Baal-Zeebub or Satan.  He is asking God to take an offering from the place of his enemy Satan!  That is like trying to bribe the policeman who is arresting you. 

And Balaam said unto Balak, Build me here seven altars, and prepare me here seven oxen and seven rams.  And Balak did as Balaam had spoken; and Balak and Balaam offered on every altar a bullock and a ram.  And Balaam said unto Balak, Stand by thy burnt offering, and I will go: peradventure the LORD will come to meet me: and whatsoever he sheweth me I will tell thee. And he went to an high place.  And God met Balaam: and he said unto him, I have prepared seven altars, and I have offered upon every altar a bullock and a ram.  And the LORD put a word in Balaam’s mouth, and said, Return unto Balak, and thus thou shalt speak.  And he returned unto him, and, lo, he stood by his burnt sacrifice, he, and all the princes of Moab.  And he took up his parable, and said, Balak the king of Moab hath brought me from Aram, out of the mountains of the east, saying, Come, curse me Jacob, and come, defy Israel.  How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed? or how shall I defy, whom the LORD hath not defied?  For from the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him: lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations.  Who can count the dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!  And Balak said unto Balaam, What hast thou done unto me? I took thee to curse mine enemies, and, behold, thou hast blessed them altogether.  And he answered and said, Must I not take heed to speak that which the LORD hath put in my mouth?  And Balak said unto him, Come, I pray thee, with me unto another place, from whence thou mayest see them: thou shalt see but the utmost part of them, and shalt not see them all: and curse me them from thence.  Num 23:1-13 (KJV) 

Balak considers a different place to be the key.  He may be slow but perhaps he does recognize the irony of worshiping god from the throne of hell. 

And he brought him into the field of Zophim, to the top of Pisgah, and built seven altars, and offered a bullock and a ram on every altar.  And he said unto Balak, Stand here by thy burnt offering, while I meet the LORD yonder.  And the LORD met Balaam, and put a word in his mouth, and said, Go again unto Balak, and say thus.  And when he came to him, behold, he stood by his burnt offering, and the princes of Moab with him. And Balak said unto him, What hath the LORD spoken?  And he took up his parable, and said, Rise up, Balak, and hear; hearken unto me, thou son of Zippor:  God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?  Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and he hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it.  He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the LORD his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them.  God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn.  Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel: according to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought!  Behold, the people shall rise up as a great lion, and lift up himself as a young lion: he shall not lie down until he eat of the prey, and drink the blood of the slain.  And Balak said unto Balaam, Neither curse them at all, nor bless them at all.  But Balaam answered and said unto Balak, Told not I thee, saying, All that the LORD speaketh, that I must do?  And Balak said unto Balaam, Come, I pray thee, I will bring thee unto another place;  peradventure it will please God that thou mayest curse me them from thence.  And Balak brought Balaam unto the top of Peor, that looketh toward Jeshimon.  And Balaam said unto Balak, Build me here seven altars, and prepare me here seven bullocks and seven rams.  And Balak did as Balaam had said, and offered a bullock and a ram on every altar.  Num 23:14-30 (KJV) 

Denial is blind, changing places is Balak’s only thought again. 

And when Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to bless Israel, he went not, as at other times, to seek for enchantments, but he set his face toward the wilderness.  And Balaam lifted up his eyes, and he saw Israel abiding in his tents according to their tribes; and the spirit of God came upon him.  And he took up his parable, and said, Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open hath said:  He hath said, which heard the words of God, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open:  How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel!  As the valleys are they spread forth, as gardens by the river’s side, as the trees of lign aloes which the LORD hath planted, and as cedar trees beside the waters.  He shall pour the water out of his buckets, and his seed shall be in many waters, and his king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted.  God brought him forth out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn: he shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with his arrows.  He couched, he lay down as a lion, and as a great lion: who shall stir him up? Blessed is he that blesseth thee, and cursed is he that curseth thee.  Num 24:1-9 (KJV) 

Balaam speaks the truth boldly, and it does not please the king. 

And Balak’s anger was kindled against Balaam, and he smote his hands together: and Balak said unto Balaam, I called thee to curse mine enemies, and, behold, thou hast altogether blessed them these three times.  Therefore now flee thou to thy place: I thought to promote thee unto great honour; but, lo, the LORD hath kept thee back from honour.  And Balaam said unto Balak, Spake I not also to thy messengers which thou sentest unto me, saying,  If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the commandment of the LORD, to do either good or bad of mine own mind; but what the LORD saith, that will I speak?  And now, behold, I go unto my people: come therefore, and I will advertise thee what this people shall do to thy people in the latter days.  Num 24:10-14 (KJV) 

Balaam seems to have given the bold and righteous answer here.  But the affair is not over yet. 

And he took up his parable, and said, Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open hath said:  He hath said, which heard the words of God, and knew the knowledge of the most High, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open:  I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.  And Edom shall be a possession, Seir also shall be a possession for his enemies; and Israel shall do valiantly.  Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion, and shall destroy him that remaineth of the city.  And when he looked on Amalek, he took up his parable, and said, Amalek was the first of the nations; but his latter end shall be that he perish for ever.  And he looked on the Kenites, and took up his parable, and said, Strong is thy dwellingplace, and thou puttest thy nest in a rock.  Nevertheless the Kenite shall be wasted, until Asshur shall carry thee away captive.  And he took up his parable, and said, Alas, who shall live when God doeth this!  And ships shall come from the coast of Chittim, and shall afflict Asshur, and shall afflict Eber, and he also shall perish for ever.  And Balaam rose up, and went and returned to his place: and Balak also went his way.  Num 24:15-25 (KJV) 

They go their way, but Balaam will make an error later on.  We will hear more of him.  For now, Israel has their victory. 

And they slew the kings of Midian, beside the rest of them that were slain; namely, Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, five kings of Midian: Balaam also the son of Beor they slew with the sword.  And the children of Israel took all the women of Midian captives, and their little ones, and took the spoil of all their cattle, and all their flocks, and all their goods.  Num 31:8-9 (KJV) 

Israel has a victory and takes the women captive.  This is an error because of something that Balaam has done.

And Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and all the princes of the congregation, went forth to meet them without the camp.  And Moses was wroth with the officers of the host, with the captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, which came from the battle.  And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive?  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.  Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.  But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.  And do ye abide without the camp seven days: whosoever hath killed any person, and whosoever hath touched any slain, purify both yourselves and your captives on the third day, and on the seventh day.  Num 31:13-19 (KJV) 

The trespass of these women is explained in the book of Revelation, a sin that continued to that day, and still to our own time as well. 

And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;  I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.  But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.  Rev 2:12-14 (KJV)

These women performed the sin that Balaam counseled Balak to try against Israel.  By tempting the men of Israel with idolatry and fornication, they could weaken the Jews in battle.  By tempting them to offend the Lord they could cost them the strength of God.  The Holy Spirit departed from them even as with Samson at a later time.  Moses made a correction to the source of this problem. 

Balaam also the son of Beor, the soothsayer, did the children of Israel slay with the sword among them that were slain by them.    Josh 13:22 (KJV) 

After contact with death and sin, the fighters must be purified.  Fire or water is required to purify the spoils of war as well.  Even the inanimate objects that have been around sin and death must be cleansed! 

And purify all your raiment, and all that is made of skins, and all work of goats’ hair, and all things made of wood.  And Eleazar the priest said unto the men of war which went to the battle, This is the ordinance of the law which the LORD commanded Moses;  Only the gold, and the silver, the brass, the iron, the tin, and the lead,  Every thing that may abide the fire, ye shall make it go through the fire, and it shall be clean: nevertheless it shall be purified with the water of separation: and all that abideth not the fire ye shall make go through the water.  And ye shall wash your clothes on the seventh day, and ye shall be clean, and afterward ye shall come into the camp.  Num 31:20-24 (KJV) 

How much more must the sin of this day be affecting our lives and our world?  Our children are surrounded by peers and media that promote fornication and idolatry.  We see the damage it causes, but do we speak out against it?  There are those who are in sin and can not hear correction.  But some of our neighbors are God’s sheep, only waiting to hear his voice.  You are that voice, are you sharing God’s words with those lost sheep? 

We will not convert Balak or his kind, but perhaps Balaam might have been warned away from the error that marked his final place in history and scripture.  We must be on guard against infiltrators from hell within the church.  Some in the body of Christ may be teaching error by false religion and sexual sin even in today’s church.  Will we speak out to destroy the work of Satan among our own faith?

We can know the will of God by prayer, reading, and Christian fellowship.  Can we trust the guidance of God’s spirit enough to assume the leadership the church needs?  Can we be watchmen in the tower to warn about the enemy within?  We must have knowledge enough to discern and act when threatened. 

Balaam proved dumber than his ass, and died by the sword in spite of God’s own warnings.  But we do have the opportunity to give warning, even as God did here.

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