Read Numbers 22 -24
I have read this passage many times over the years and have always questioned why God told Balaam to go and then when he did, became angry with him and sent his angel to kill him. Then the question of why he still went with the messengers when the donkey spared his life. It has always left me with many questions so I decided to do some study and below is what I have come to with regards to this biblical character.
Balak obviously thought highly of him as noted in verse 5-6. He was afraid of the Israelites so he sought out Balaam who was a prophet to curse them in the hopes that Moab and the Midianites would be able to defeat them.
Was Balaam a prophet of God who went astray or a false prophet as noted in 2Peter 2:1, 12-16)
Jude 1:11 compares him to Cain and the rebels of Korah.
Both Peter and Jude saw something in Balaam and his actions that pointed not to a prophet of God but a false prophet whose purpose is to lead believers astray.
A false prophet is one who falsely claims the gift of prophecy or divine inspiration, or who uses that gift for evil ends. While at first glance it looks as though Balaam is certainly looking to God for guidance, the passage later shows his heart. Balaam wanted to put a coma where God had put a period. The word specifically states that God came to Balaam and asked who the messengers were; it was not Balaam who initiated the contact. The real problem with Balaam occurs when the 2nd set of messengers comes to him. At this point he knows what God has stated but he entertains the messengers all the same.
Jesus in Luke 11:9 tells us to ask, knock and seek God for answers to our prayers, so why is what Balaam did so wrong?
So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (NASB)
The answer lies in the heart! False prophets guide people wrong for a variety of reasons, some for financial gain, and some in order to elevate themselves into a place where they themselves are worshipped. They are not focused on God or his will; they are in it entirely for themselves.
When Jude compared Cain, Balaam and the rebels of Korah, they all had the same problem. The Heart!
The story of Cain and Abel and their sacrifices can be found in Genesis 4:3 - 8
God had no regard for Cains offering and at first glance it is hard to understand why but when you look at the words, it makes more sense. “Cain brought an offering”… “Abel, on his part brought the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions.” What exactly does that mean? Note that Abel in in offering brought the first and the best, while Cains offering is not noted as being either. In addition Hebrews 11:4 states that “By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain… “(NASB) God was looking at the heart not the offering. Cain had a heart problem that was shown clearly when he murdered his brother out of jealousy.
The rebels of Korah found in Numbers 16 also had a heart problem. They were Levites who were not content with the duties assigned to them by God, so they complained and led a rebellion against God’s chosen, Moses and Aaron. In their minds and hearts, they were just as good as Moses and Aaron, and disregarded the fact that it was God who did the choosing. They were jealous of Moses and Aaron.
Balaam for his part was not allowed to curse the Israelites with Balak, but because his heart was set on the reward offered by the Moabites and the Midianites, he found a way. It was Balaam who counseled the Moabites and the Midianites to entice the Israelites into worshipping Baal as referenced in Numbers 25:1-9 & Numbers 31:16.
He wanted the riches offered as a reward and with or without God’s consent; he was going to find a way. He couldn’t speak the curse but he could circumvent that by getting the Israelites to bring the curse on themselves.
In the end it doesn’t matter if he really was a prophet of God or a false prophet because his actions portrayed his heart and it was definitely not set on God.
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