2 Peter 2
15 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;
We read the story of Balaam in Numbers 22.
Balaam was a prophet but did things in a crooked way. Let’s look at his life and teachings which influence Christianity to this day.
He had double standards, while he spoke wonderful things. He was of those that have forsaken the right way. Are we walking on the right way? When one reads of someone going off the right way it doesn’t happen suddenly but gradually.
Balaam left God’s way gradually, step by step. At first he wanted to curse Israel outright but God didn’t allow it. Eventually he gave advice so that God’s children would be tempted and go astray gradually.
This happened during the end of the children of Israel’s fourty years wandering in the wilderness. Their parents complained, criticised and tempted God continually until He refused to let them enter the promised land and they all died in the wilderness except Joshua and Caleb. God said that with their attitude and evil heart they cannot enter the promised land.
Such people would be an obstacle to God’s work. God waited until that whole generation had died. And here the children of Israel were at the gates of Kanaan again, about to enter, and the devil didn’t like it. He wanted to stop it.
The Moabites were in fear. They saw that Israel would destroy them. God was fighting for the children of Israel because He loved them. All Balaam’s plans and advice to destroy them eventually came to nothing. So too all the efforts of the devil and the world to destroy the church will eventually come to nothing. If we are on God’s side we’re in the winning team. If God is on our side we need not fear. Or, better said, if we are on God’s side we need not fear. But if you are busy fighting the children of God, God will make your efforts come to nothing. Many have tried to destroy God’s people but failed.
Balaam was more an enormous distance from Moab. The king of Moab must have had great faith in Balaam.
When the messengers from the king of Moab came to Balaam, God asked him, who the messengers were and what they wanted. And when he told God, God refused him to go with them, because Israel was blessed and not cursed.
Balaam didn’t like what God told him and went sulking to the messengers and told them that God wouldn’t allow him to go, like a child tell his friends, “my mom says no”. Balaam wanted to go with them for he loved money and the praise of men. He just went to God to get His approval, a rubber-stamp, for what he wanted to do.
Many people have their own ideas but just want God’s approval on their own plans.
The second time the king of Moab sent more messengers, more honourable than the first, for he knew that is what impressed Balaam.
Balaam lived a double life, he had a double standard. Many people are impressed by pomp. As our text says in 2 Peter, many people run headlong into Balaam’s error.
Balaam fell for it. Instead of remembering what God had told him he went to God again to get what he wanted.
He loved the wages of wickedness. Doing his own thing gave him joy. That’s what drove him. Whatever it was, for or against God, he just did what he liked. He was driven by his lust to do what he pleased.
One remembers how the children of Israel lusted after the food of Egypt but that lead to their death. As the Bible says, “the wages of sin is death”.
Balaam was impressed by what he saw in these messengers from Moab and wanted part of it.
Such people lusting after money have less discernment than Balaam. And that doesn’t say much since even a donkey had more discernment than him. Had the donkey not stopped he would have been dead. Even the donkey could see he was on the wrong road. But Balaam got angry with his donkey. People who are like Balaam get angry with those that want to help them. Balaam said to the donkey that it made him look like a fool. He didn’t see that the donkey tried to help him. Such people say the same if you want to help them, “you make me look stupid”. They are always worried about their ego.
Maybe it’s time to stop and say, what does God want to say to me?
Only when God opened his eyes did he see the angel with the drawn sword.
Have you gotten to the point where God has opened your eyes? Otherwise you only see money and are blinded by that.
Balaam probably hoped that God somehow would get soft towards his requests. But eventually even Balaam had to acknowledge that God doesn’t change.
Balaam’s heart was hard, and he continued in his wicked ways to thwart God’s blessing of Israel. But he eventually died with the Mideanites.
When Balaam realised that he could not curse the children if Israel, he used idolatry and foreign women to subtly make the children of Israel to sin.
14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
Balaam’s danger to Israel wasn’t primarily just because he wanted to curse Israel, because he had to get God’s permission first. Without God’s curse your curse means nothing.
We now see Balaam at his most dangerous, when he taught the king of Moab to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel.
Balaam didn’t get his money by cursing Israel, but he still wanted his money, so he came with this subtle strategy. In secret he was busy with his dirty work. He advised those people whose minds were as warped as his own.
He taught them not to be so narrow minded but try different things. When Balaam spoke you would have been impressed that He spoke wonderful words, but in secret he was busy with his dirty work.
His teachings prevail to this day. He taught the children of Israel the way of the world.
God said to the church in Revelations that there were some who keep to this teaching and mix things with the world. They practised idol worship and committed immorality. Does it sound familiar?
People continually want to lower God’s standards slowly but surely. When God teaches us to marry in a pure and holy way, they want to water it down and do it in their own way where the boys and girls flirt with each other.
Eventually God is no longer your point of reference but your own standard is, and you measure yourself against other Christians and not against the Word of God.
That is how Christians wander from the right way. Slowly but surely decay sets in, and so Balaam’s teaching destroys lives. Many people today follow this evil way and wander from God’s way. Some are in bondage to secret sins in their bedrooms. They are watching porn on the computer screens and cellphones.
If you follow someone who is not following God you will go astray. Don’t be bluffed when they sometimes say the right things. Balaam said the right things, even words that were clearly a revelation. But he lived a double life. He had another agenda. Don’t be bluffed by their pious talk.
Let us take heed lest we be fooled by the same evil teachings of Balaam.