Numbers 22
Numbers 23
Numbers 24
Mark 6:30-56

Since today’s reading in Numbers is focused on the actions of Baalam and of course as children we read of the “talking donkey” segment I thought it would be worthwhile to shed some light on who Baalam was.  I mean was he a true prophet of God or was he one of the ungodly men the Lord used to fulfill His plan?  James Coffman provides an apt discussion:

His name, Balaam, means “devourer, destroyer, or devourer of the people.” In 2 Peter 2:15,16, Balaam was referred to as having “forsaken the right way,” indicating that certainly, at one time, he was in the right way. Also, it is clearly declared in the narrative before us that “the Spirit of God” enabled him to deliver valid prophecies. Thus, there was surely a period of his life when he walked in the truth, even praying that his “latter end” be like that of the faithful. Peter also called Balaam a prophet (2 Peter 2:16).

However, upon the occasion of Balaam’s death, when he was slain along with the enemy opposing Israel, Joshua referred to him as “the soothsayer” (Numbers 13:22), a description that fits both the beginning and the final period of Balaam’s life. Soothsayers were proscribed under the law of Moses, and the practice of that art was utterly forbidden to Israel.

Despite God’s use of this prophet in the matter of frustrating the desires of Balak, however, this favor of God was insufficient to keep Balaam in the right way. The reason for this stated in the N.T. is that “he loved the wages of the unrighteousnesss.” Balaam evidently thought to make amends for his failure to give satisfaction to Balak, and this he did by advising Balak to accomplish the destruction of Israel by seducing them to commit adultery with the daughters of Moab. The manner in which this seduction was carried out is reported in Numbers 25. Balaam also joined forces with the Moabites against Israel and died in the battle that resulted in their defeat. The account of this evil counsel which originated with Balaam is in Numbers 31:16. That this was one of Balaam’s greatest sins is evident in the fact that in the message of the Holy Spirit to the church at Pergamum (Revelation 2:14), one finds this: “But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there some that hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication.”

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