by Beverly Barnett

Saturday, August 17

The Way of Balaam

Numbers 22:27-35

“Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face,” Numbers 22:31.

Balaam was a prophet for hire, and those are the most dangerous kind. Balaam was respected in the kingdom of Median, for his soothing words, and his lack of condemnation of sin. That made him a popular prophet.

As the children of God left Egypt, and crossed through hostile lands the sheer number of them intimidated the smaller kingdoms. The kings of Moab and Median formed an alliance and sent messengers to Balaam and asked him to curse Israel. But the Lord spoke to Balaam and said not to go with them and not to curse Israel. And a second time they sent high ranking ambassadors with gifts to Balaam so that he might put a curse on God’s people. And the second time he inquired of God. Was God’s answer the first time not good enough? The Lord’s answer was go with them, in other words, you have already made up your mind to do what you want so go.

And we know the rest of the story, how Balaam’s talking don-key saved his life. But that is not the end of Balaam’s story. Balaam could not curse God’s children so he chose another tactic. He encouraged Balak to corrupt the people whom he could not curse. The way of Balaam is worldliness: eat, drink, be merry, gather stuff, be a workaholic, forget God and His teachings, do whatever makes one feel good. (See Numbers 25:1-3; Numbers 31:16; James 4:4; Revelation 2:14.) The way of Balaam is still familiar in the world around us today!

REFLECTION: “Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness” (2 Peter 2:15).

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