November 14, 2016
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
In the last blog, I asked the question, “Did Balaam really go home? ” It says in Numbers 24:24 that after the prophet had refused to curse the Israelites as Balak, king of the Midianites had requested, “Then Balaam rose and departed and returned to his place….” But seven chapters later, in Numbers 31, we find Balaam is still among the Midianites! Here is a portion of Numbers 31:7 through 9, 12, and 14 through 16:
And [the Israelites]…warred against the Midianites….They killed the kings
of Midian…and…Balaam the son of Beor they also killed with the sword
….Then they brought the captives, the booty, and the spoil to Moses….But
Moses was angry…and…said to them, “Have you kept all the women alive?
Look, these women caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of
Balaam, to trespass against the LORD in the incident of Peor, and there
was a plague among the congregation of the LORD.
What happened? Balaam did not curse the Israelites because God forbade him to do it! (See Numbers 22:12). So it seems, at first glance, the prophet was obedient to the LORD. But we can surmise a further scenerio! Apparently, Balaam was still very attracted to the wealth offered him by King Balak. He could not curse Israel outright, but he could offer counsel to subvert them morally, causing God’s judgment to fall upon His people!
In Revelation 2:14, there is a commentary of Balaam’s subversion. Jesus is dictating a letter through the Apostle John to the church at Pergamos. He tells this congregation, located in Asia Minor:
But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who
hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block
before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to com-
mit sexual immorality.
The record of what the Israelites did is found in Numbers 25:1 through 3:
Then Israel remained in Acacia Grove, and the people began to com-
mit harlotry with the women of Moab. They invited the people to the
sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their
gods. So Israel was joined to Baal of Peor, and the anger of the LORD
was aroused against Israel.
“No,” Balaam might have told Balak, “I can’t curse Israel outright! But I can tell you a way to get their God so angry with them that He will plague them with His judgment! ” And plague them the LORD did! It says in Numbers 25:9 that in His anger, “…those who died in the plague were twenty-four thousand.” From the Midianites’ point of view, I would say the counsel of Balaam was very effective!
What can we learn from this?
• We have to be increasingly careful of false prophets! Jesus said in Matthew 24:24 that in the last days, “…false christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” For instance, there are cults out there that use orthodox terms that sound good. The Jehovah’s Witenesses and the Mormons will readily tell you that “…Jesus Christ is the son of God, the savior.” Yet they deny that He is God Himself! And the Lord admonishes us quite plainly in John 8:24 (Literal Translation of the Holy Bible): “…if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.” I AM ! This is the eternal name of Jehovah God by which He introduced Himself to Moses in Exodus 3:14! Jesus is telling us, “…if you do not believe that I AM [the very God of the Old Testament] you will die in your sins.” Correct theology is very important!
• A man or woman who says they are of God can look quite good! But are they? I give a simple test sometimes to Christians in my Bible studies. I ask them to read Revelation 6:1 and 2, and tell me to whom this description is referring.
Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals: and I heard one of the
four living creatures saying with a voice of thunder, “Come and see.” And
I looked, and behold, a white horse. And he who sat upon it had a bow:
and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.
Invariably, some in the Bible study will identify this horseman as Jesus Christ Himself! But if you compare this description with Revelation 19:11 through 16, it is plain that the personage in Revelation 6 is a false Christ! In fact, he is the antichrist, shown in his peaceful mode!
Know the truth, and you can then readily spot falsehood! (See John 8:32; 14:6; 17:17).
• There will always be Balaams! There will always be those who – though they cannot subvert the true faith openly – will attack, sometimes very effectively, through the back door! Again, the best defense is what Paul exhorts us in Colossians 3:16: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly….” Get in – and stay in – your Bible!