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Balaam

Loyal
Often the Bible studies here are about "heros" of the Bible. Moses, David, Joseph, etc...
Balaam isn't exactly a hero. In fact, in the end he turns away from God. So why study him?
Well he is in the Bible, and some times we can learn what to do from following certain people.
But we can also learn what NOT to do from reading about other people.

Balaam is mentioned over 60 times in the Bible. When I ask people about Balaam, usually they
know the story about the talking donkey. But that's not what Balaam is mainly known for in the Bible.

Which makes me ask the question, can men think of us one way, and God think of us another way?

Here are a few verses about Balaam in the new testament, we'll get back to these.

2 Pet 2:15; forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;

Jude 1:11; Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.

Rev 2:14; 'But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality.

So what exactly is "the way of Balaam" and the "teachings of "Balaam".

This is an attempt to go back and find out.
 
Loyal
The story of Balaam starts in Numbers 22.

Num 22:1; Then the sons of Israel journeyed, and camped in the plains of Moab beyond the Jordan opposite Jericho.
Num 22:2; Now Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites.
Num 22:3; So Moab was in great fear because of the people, for they were numerous; and Moab was in dread of the sons of Israel.
Num 22:4; Moab said to the elders of Midian, "Now this horde will lick up all that is around us, as the ox licks up the grass of the field." And Balak the son of Zippor was king of Moab at that time.
Num 22:5; So 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, saying, "Behold, a people came out of Egypt; behold, they cover the surface of the land, and they are living opposite me.
Num 22:6; "Now, therefore, please come, curse this people for me since they are too mighty for me; perhaps I may 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."

There was a man named Balak, who was the king of Moab. Like the Egyptians, he was afraid of the Israelites because "they were numerous". (verse 3)
So he sends people to search for a man named Balaam. He asks Balaam to "curse" the Israelites (verse 6) so that he can defeat them and "drive them out of the land".

It seems Balaam had a reputation. Balak tells him "I know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed."

Num 22:7; So the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the fees for divination in their hand; and they came to Balaam and repeated Balak's words to him.
Num 22:8; He said to them, "Spend the night here, and I will bring word back to you as the LORD may speak to me." And the leaders of Moab stayed with Balaam.
Num 22:9; Then God came to Balaam and said, "Who are these men with you?"
Num 22:10; Balaam said to God, "Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, has sent word to me,
Num 22:11; 'Behold, there is a people who came out of Egypt and they cover the surface of the land; now come, curse them for me; perhaps I may be able to fight against them and drive them out.'"
Num 22:12; God said to Balaam, "Do not go with them; you shall not curse the people, for they are blessed."

I find it very interesting that Balaam started off as a man of God. He and God apparently had frequent conversations.
God tells Balaam, don't curse the Israelites, "for they are blessed".

... to be continued ...
 
Loyal
Num 22:12; God said to Balaam, "Do not go with them; you shall not curse the people, for they are blessed."
Num 22:13; So Balaam arose in the morning and said to Balak's leaders, "Go back to your land, for the LORD has refused to let me go with you."
Num 22:14; The leaders of Moab arose and went to Balak and said, "Balaam refused to come with us."

So God tells Balaam not to curse the Israelites, Balaam tells Balaks men that he won't go curse Israel.

Num 22:15; Then Balak again sent leaders, more numerous and more distinguished than the former.
Num 22:16; They came to Balaam and said to him, "Thus says Balak the son of Zippor, 'Let nothing, I beg you, hinder you from coming to me;
Num 22:17; for I will indeed honor you richly, and I will do whatever you say to me. Please come then, curse this people for me.'"

If at first you don't succeed, try and bribe again. Balak sends even more "important and dintinguished" people than the first time.
This time he adds.. "I will honor you 'richly'". Sometimes, you just to need to offer people more money to do something evil.

Num 22:18; Balaam replied to the servants of Balak, "Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not do anything, either small or great, contrary to the command of the LORD my God.
Num 22:19; "Now please, you also stay here tonight, and I will find out what else the LORD will speak to me."
Num 22:20; God came to Balaam at night and said to him, "If the men have come to call you, rise up and go with them; but only the word which I speak to you shall you do."
Num 22:21; So Balaam arose in the morning, and saddled his donkey and went with the leaders of Moab.

The first time God refused to Balaam return with Balak's men. The second time, God tells Balaam you can return with them, but you have to say the words
I am going to give you.

... to be continued ...
 
Loyal
Num 22:22; But God was angry because he was going, and the angel of the LORD took his stand in the way as an adversary against him. Now he was riding on his donkey and his two servants were with him.

Even though God said he could go with the men, He wasn't happy that Balaam chose to go with them. Sometimes God lets us do things He isn't happy with.

Num 22:23; When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way with his drawn sword in his hand, the donkey turned off from the way and went into the field; but Balaam struck the donkey to turn her back into the way.
Num 22:24; Then the angel of the LORD stood in a narrow path of the vineyards, with a wall on this side and a wall on that side.
Num 22:25; When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she pressed herself to the wall and pressed Balaam's foot against the wall, so he struck her again.
Num 22:26; The angel of the LORD went further, and stood in a narrow place where there was no way to turn to the right hand or the left.
Num 22:27; When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she lay down under Balaam; so Balaam was angry and struck the donkey with his stick.
Num 22:28; And the LORD opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, "What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?"
Num 22:29; Then Balaam said to the donkey, "Because you have made a mockery of me! If there had been a sword in my hand, I would have killed you by now."
Num 22:30; The donkey said to Balaam, "Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden all your life to this day? Have I ever been accustomed to do so to you?" And he said, "No."

Sometimes even animals are smarter then we are. I wonder sometimes if they can see things we can't. The thing that surprises me here is that Balaam isn't even
surprised his donkey can talk. He is so intent on getting down the road that he doesn't see what is right in front of him. I wonder sometimes if we are willing to hurt
the people (hit them three times with a stick) when they don't help us go to a bad place.

Num 22:31; Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way with his drawn sword in his hand; and he bowed all the way to the ground.
Num 22:32; The angel of the LORD said to him, "Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out as an adversary, because your way was contrary to me.
Num 22:33; "But the donkey saw me and turned aside from me these three times. If she had not turned aside from me, I would surely have killed you just now, and let her live."
Num 22:34; Balaam said to the angel of the LORD, "I have sinned, for I did not know that you were standing in the way against me. Now then, if it is displeasing to you, I will turn back."

Now that Balaam can see the angel, he is willing to turn back. The angel tells Balaam that if the donkey would have kept going, the angel would have killed him.
Have you ever had a conversation with an animal? Would it surprise you?

... to be continued ...
 
Loyal
Num 22:34; Balaam said to the angel of the LORD, "I have sinned, for I did not know that you were standing in the way against me. Now then, if it is displeasing to you, I will turn back."

When Balaam sees the angel, he is willing to turn back.

Num 22:35; But the angel of the LORD said to Balaam, "Go with the men, but you shall speak only the word which I tell you." So Balaam went along with the leaders of Balak.
Num 22:36; When Balak heard that Balaam was coming, he went out to meet him at the city of Moab, which is on the Arnon border, at the extreme end of the border.
Num 22:37; Then Balak said to Balaam, "Did I not urgently send to you to call you? Why did you not come to me? Am I really unable to honor you?"

It seems Balak is impatient, he didn't know the angel held up Balaam. The question "am I really unable to honor you?" could be translated as... are you really going
to refuse my bribe?

Num 22:38; So Balaam said to Balak, "Behold, I have come now to you! Am I able to speak anything at all? The word that God puts in my mouth, that I shall speak."
Num 22:39; And Balaam went with Balak, and they came to Kiriath-huzoth.
Num 22:40; Balak sacrificed oxen and sheep, and sent some to Balaam and the leaders who were with him.
Num 22:41; Then it came about in the morning that Balak took Balaam and brought him up to the high places of Baal, and he saw from there a portion of the people.

Balak is still willing to say only what God tells him to say at this point. Baal of course is a false god, so you would think Balaam would have gotten a clue here.
 
Loyal
Num 23:1; Then Balaam said to Balak, "Build seven altars for me here, and prepare seven bulls and seven rams for me here."
Num 23:2; Balak did just as Balaam had spoken, and Balak and Balaam offered up a bull and a ram on each altar.
Num 23:3; Then Balaam said to Balak, "Stand beside your burnt offering, and I will go; perhaps the LORD will come to meet me, and whatever He shows me I will tell you." So he went to a bare hill.
Num 23:4; Now God met Balaam, and he said to Him, "I have set up the seven altars, and I have offered up a bull and a ram on each altar."
Num 23:5; Then the LORD put a word in Balaam's mouth and said, "Return to Balak, and you shall speak thus."
Num 23:6; So he returned to him, and behold, he was standing beside his burnt offering, he and all the leaders of Moab.
Num 23:7; He took up his discourse and said, "From Aram Balak has brought me, Moab's king from the mountains of the East, 'Come curse Jacob for me, And come, denounce Israel!'
Num 23:8; "How shall I curse whom God has not cursed? And how can I denounce whom the LORD has not denounced?
Num 23:9; "As I see him from the top of the rocks, And I look at him from the hills; Behold, a people who dwells apart, And will not be reckoned among the nations.
Num 23:10; "Who can count the dust of Jacob, Or number the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the upright, And let my end be like his!"
Num 23:11; Then Balak said to Balaam, "What have you done to me? I took you to curse my enemies, but behold, you have actually blessed them!"
Num 23:12; He replied, "Must I not be careful to speak what the LORD puts in my mouth?"

So Balaam stands besides the offering (even though it is to Baal) and finally gets ready to speak. Balak tells him to go ahead and curse Israel now.
But Balaam asks him... how can I curse what God has not cursed? In verses 9 and 10 Balaam actually blesses Israel instead of cursing them.
Balak is not to happy about this.
 
Loyal
So, what do you conclude from all this? What does this teach us?
This is a difficult story to follow in a few sentences, but this is what I gather.
Three times Balak tried to get Balaam to curse Israel, he never did curse Israel, however he did set a bad influence for them.

I could never find exactly where Balaam told the Israelites to intermarry with the Moabites, but it says the fact that they did thise was because of
Balaam's "counsel".

Num 25:1; While Israel remained at Shittim, the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab.
Num 25:2; For they invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods.
Num 25:3; So Israel joined themselves to Baal of Peor, and the LORD was angry against Israel.
Num 25:4; The LORD said to Moses, "Take all the leaders of the people and execute them in broad daylight before the LORD, so that the fierce anger of the LORD may turn away from Israel."
Num 25:5; So Moses said to the judges of Israel, "Each of you slay his men who have joined themselves to Baal of Peor."

Why did they do this?

Num 31:15; And Moses said to them, "Have you spared all the women?
Num 31:16; "Behold, these caused the sons of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, so the plague was among the congregation of the LORD.
Num 31:17; "Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man intimately.
Num 31:18; "But all the girls who have not known man intimately, spare for yourselves.

The plague mentioned in verse 16 happened in Num 25:9;

They eventually killed Balaam (Num 31:8; )

Balaam may not have ever cursed Israel, but he set an example that it was OK intermingle (intermarry) with the Moabites and follow their gods.
I can't find where he actually says this, however he himself does this three times.
(Num 22:40-41; Num 23:1-4; Num 23:14-17; )
The only place I could find it says that he said it was Num 31:16;

The error and way of Balaam was to teach others it was OK to follow other other gods and be unequally yoked.
 
Loyal
Back in 2004, the Lord spoke to me powerfully through the story of Balaam and the donkey. My journal entry was titled "Don't Beat the Donkey." It had a lot of personal information in it, so I don't think I published it. And, it was very long, so I will share only a small portion of it here. Basically, my husband and I had a ministry to college-age adults out of our home for a span of 7.5 years. During those years we tried several times to connect the ministry with a local church congregation, but each time we did, it failed. The ministry was called "This Space Available." My present avatar was our ministry logo. So, finally the Lord used the story of Balaam and the donkey to get my attention and to show me that I was going about this all wrong, and that we were beating the donkey by not heeding the Lord's counsel and warnings and by doing what man told us we should do.

"The story of Balaam and the donkey was one of the Bible passages God used to speak to my heart. I could identify with Balaam. I wondered why God told Balaam to go with the men and then got angry with him and tried to stop him. My commentary said that God knew Balaam’s heart. I know God knew my heart, too, and he knew that I was afraid that I could not do this ministry without man’s help, so I kept trying to find ways to have man help us. And, each time God helped me to see the angel in the road and I heard his voice speak to me that I was going the wrong way, ...

"Just as each time God tried to stop Balaam was a different method, God used different methods each time with me. I think God never intended that we bring This Space Available under any group, but we felt we needed help, so he told us to go ahead. I had often wondered why he told me to “go with the men,” and then once I did he stopped me. Now, it makes sense. God knew my heart. He knew I was going to want to keep trying to find a way to put my dependency partially in man to help me, but he wanted my dependency to be totally in him. So, he told me to go ahead, but when I did, then he put the angel in the road to stop me..."

It isn't that God didn't want his ministry to be part of a local fellowship of believers in Jesus Christ, but that he didn't want it to be under the direction of human thinking and reasoning, following man's methods rather than following the Holy Spirit and God's direction for the ministry. As long as we kept the ministry independent, it flourished, but when we tried to bring it under the institutional church and man's methods, it began to dwindle. Eventually it - the college ministry - ran its course, but as soon as we closed the doors to that ministry, the Lord Jesus opened the door for the ministry he had for me next, which is writing out what he teaches me each day through his Word and posting it on the internet. So, perhaps TSA (This Space Available) was to be for this ministry all along.
 
Loyal
It isn't that God didn't want his ministry to be part of a local fellowship of believers in Jesus Christ, but that he didn't want it to be under the direction of human thinking and reasoning, following man's methods rather than following the Holy Spirit and God's direction for the ministry. As long as we kept the ministry independent, it flourished, but when we tried to bring it under the institutional church and man's methods, it began to dwindle. Eventually it - the college ministry - ran its course, but as soon as we closed the doors to that ministry, the Lord Jesus opened the door for the ministry he had for me next, which is writing out what he teaches me each day through his Word and posting it on the internet. So, perhaps TSA (This Space Available) was to be for this ministry all along.
Continued...

At that time, what was standing out to me was how Balak was a symbol of man's wisdom, thinking and reasoning, and of how man was trying to persuade us to follow his ways over and above God's ways, in many cases. And, God was trying to get through our heads that we were not to follow man's way of thinking or his methods (humanistic), but that we were to follow God's ways, instead, like he told Balaam that he was only to say what God told him to say, and not what Balak was trying to get him to say.

Many of these institutional churches were all caught up in marketing schemes and humanistic and worldly ways of doing "church," and they were trying to convince us that is the way we should go, too, but the Lord kept impressing on our hearts that we were to follow his ways. For example, at one of these churches, which is when this logo (now avatar) was first created, they rejected this logo (This Space Available with the cross), because they said it did not represent what their church was about. So, they asked us to replace it with something less offensive, basically, so we complied, but not to the extent they were suggesting, for they were suggesting that we make the space available an empty coke can, evidently putting the focus on food and drink as the way in which people would enter in, but the Lord kept saying that it is all about him and the focus needed to be the cross, not food, not drink, not entertainment, not great power point presentations and not a great band, though we had one. After that, the ministry there died out and the head deacon suggested we take the ministry back to our home. When we did, the attendance more than tripled.

Three different times we tried connecting this ministry with an institutional church, and three times it failed, but as soon as we brought it back into the home, and we did it the biblical way, instead of man's ways, it began to thrive again. It took Balaam 3 times of beating the donkey before his eyes were finally opened, and it took us these 3 times, as well. Sometimes we can be slow learners when we have other things so ingrained in us that have been taught us by humans. And, I believe all of this was preparation for me for my present ministry, too, because I had to learn these lessons prior to the Lord calling me to this writing ministry so that I was not influenced by man's methods, but so that I would listen to God and to his Word and so I would follow his ways and say what he wanted me to say, even if it got me rejected and persecuted in return.
 
Loyal
It isn't that God didn't want his ministry to be part of a local fellowship of believers in Jesus Christ, but that he didn't want it to be under the direction of human thinking and reasoning, following man's methods rather than following the Holy Spirit and God's direction for the ministry. As long as we kept the ministry independent, it flourished, but when we tried to bring it under the institutional church and man's methods, it began to dwindle. Eventually it - the college ministry - ran its course, but as soon as we closed the doors to that ministry, the Lord Jesus opened the door for the ministry he had for me next, which is writing out what he teaches me each day through his Word and posting it on the internet. So, perhaps TSA (This Space Available) was to be for this ministry all along.
And so I believe it had always been. God did not want the kingdom of Israel to split after the death of Solomon, but Solomon [and those who followed him too closely] made it necessary. We could probably name many men of God who simply wanted to move away from men's ways and into God's Way from Martin Luther down the present day. They may have started it right, but people are still the hard necked group as a whole that they have always been. They may want to serve God in a measure, but in their hearts too often it is more important to be the leader or the preacher or the pastor, etc. with all that that means to them [rather than to God].This is where you have been and where you are. You were unwilling to let go of the direction which God giving you all along.Without knowing the details of your so-called failures, I can well imagine them.

The good thing to observe in all of this in your history and in my own as well as in those of others who have supposedly "failed" to blend into the churches of men, is that God has always had an unbroken thread of those carrying or sharing His Truth from one generation to the next from the time when Jesus walked planet Earth as a man to now. Too many people still go searching the organized church groups looking for something that too often is not found there. The key for sincere seekers is to be found in Jesus' words:

"Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled" Matt 5:6
 
Active
Thanks for sharing Sue.
I was thinking more of how Balaam was bribed to curse, but he could only bless instead. God didnt really want him involved with Balak...but he did go along that road till he was blocked from doing so. Maybe it was the silver and gold he was tempted by? Or the 'honorable' position or status? I dont know about intermarrying with the Moabites It only says they played the harlot...so maybe they didnt actually marry but Balaam advised Balak to entice the israelites to sleep around and hang out and eat with the Moabites.
 
Active
I find it interesting that the angel was going to kill Balaam. The donkey saved him. God was going to give His own sign / message to Balak. This tells me that God was never confident in Balaam's desire to do His will outside of miraculous intervention.

It is also interesting that God had to tell him what to say. He really needed God to tell him ''I don't approve / God has blessed them / don't kill them, they are good people''.
 

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