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The account of Balaam. Numbers 22-24
The account of Balaam-
Numbers 22-24

This morning I am going to lead you through a quick survey of Numbers 22-24. This account features a man named Balaam. The Israelites are on the verge of entering into the Promised Land. Out of fear-- for the Israelites had trounced their enemies who had attacked them, jealousy, and greed the king of Moab -instead of deciding to attack the Israelites with his armies- hires a man of renown- named Balaam- to curse the Israelites.

Balaam had a reputation-- those he blessed were blessed, those he cursed were cursed. So Balak figures he could pay Balaam to have the Israelites destroyed by God. With such in mind, Balak sends a delegation of important people to go and pay Balaam a huge sum of money to curse the Israelites. As you might guess, Balak's plan backfires!

READ Numbers 22

LESSON AND PRINCIPLES OF THE TEXT

Interesting: Ammon and Moab would have been spared if they had left Israel alone (they the descendants of Lot and hence relatives of Israel)

I. MAKE NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT: BALAAM WAS A WICKED MAN

Address the confusion that people have about whether Balaam was a prophet of God

-Just because Balaam consulted the LORD and called Him "my God" doesn't mean he knew Him or followed him (probably an attempt at control). Just because a person prays, goes to church or talks about Jesus doesn't mean they know Him. BY YOUR FRUIT WILL YOU BE KNOWN (Matthew 7:16)
-Just because Balaam gave a number of truthful prophecies about Israel and indeed Christ (Numbers 24:17) does not mean that he was a follower of God. God spoke through Abimelech (Genesis 20), Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2), and the Witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28)


Balaam: Called a false prophet in 2 Peter 2:15-16 and here in Numbers 24:1 called a "diviner/scorcer". Divination forbidden (Leviticus 19:26,31) as is any form of dabbling in the occult or witch craft. Therefore stay away from tarot cards, Ouija boards, fortune tellers, zodiac junk, religious practices of other religions ie Yoga

Other texts that prove the point (all speaking negatively about Balaam):

Deuteronomy 23:3-6, Joshua 24:9-10, Nehemiah 13:1-3, Numbers 22 (which features Balaam being cruel to his animal** In Proverbs 12:10 it says; "The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.")

Revelation 2:14 - and these are the words of Christ say "Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality.". You know he's bad- Jesus says so

If you read Numbers 25 which is the follow up to the account of Balaam and his blessing of Israel, you will read of how Moab-- instead of sending an army-- sent a whole bunch of women over to the Israelites. These women offered themselves to the Israelite men and invited the whole community to join them in worshipping their false gods. Because of this 24,000 Israelites died by a plague that God sent. Such was Balaam's doing. It was Balaam's advice to Moab that led to this. (Numbers 31:16)

2 Peter 2:15-16 speaking of false teachers, Peter says "They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness. But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey-an animal without speech-who spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet's madness."


Post script: Numbers 31:8 records the death of Balaam at the hands of the Israelites. Killed while hanging out with Midianites


II. THOSE WHO BLESS ISRAEL WILL BE BLESSED, THOSE WHO CURSE HER WILL BE CURSED Genesis 12:3

What was Balaam hired to do? CURSE ISRAEL

While he was hired to curse Israel and willing to do so, he ended up blessing Israel 4 times

If you take some time to look at what Balaam prophesied by the Spirit of God, some amazing stuff is said (Numbers 23:5-10, Numbers 23:18-24, Numbers 24:1-9, READ Numbers 24:15-19 which features 2 prophecies about Jesus)


There's a reason I'm pro Israel-- It's not because they are better than other people or following God at the moment (for they are not)-- it's because they are a people of promise. One day, many Jews will turn to Christ, much prophecy regarding Israel has yet to be fulfilled, I want to be blessed, Salvation has come from the Jews-- for Jesus was Jewish.

Psalm 122:6-7 tells us that we should pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Irony and poetic justice: Moab was the one that ended up being cursed in the end. Numbers 24:15-25

III. THE PURSUIT AND LOVE OF MONEY IS A SNARE

In Hebrews 13:5 it says "Keep your lives free from the love of money; be satisfied with what you have."

1 Timothy 6:10 says; "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs"

In 2 Corinthians 2:17 Paul writes "Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God." Benny Hinn, Creflo Dollar, etc take note.

What was the carrot that Balak offered to Balaam? What led Balaam to say after Balak's second appeal "Now spend the night here so that I can find out what else the LORD will tell me" Numbers 22:19.

(Note: God's will was already clear. There was no need to consult the LORD again. This is highlighted in Numbers 23:19 which says "God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind")


MONEY AND RICHES was on Balaam's mind.

Interesting: Balaam says the right things "Even if Balak gave me all the silver and gold in his palace, I could not do anything great or small to go beyond the command of the Lord my God." (Numbers 22:18) The problem was in his heart. His heart was set on the money. He was willing to Curse Israel for money.


APPLICATION

We need to be careful how much emphasis we put on money. I have known some who have good jobs who take on additional work to make more money-- not because they need it-- but because they want more and bigger and better. This of course has led to them not serving the body of Christ, not attending church- whether it be Sunday, Wednesday, or any other day of the week, and not giving generously to God's work.

We also need to be careful as it regards what we will do for money. Some jobs are not acceptable for those who are the followers of Christ-- even if the pay is good.

Before you take a job ask yourself this: What does the Bible say about what this company does, stands for, produces, encourages, etc?


IV. WHAT PATH ARE YOU ON?

Numbers 22:32 is a very important verse, saying; "The angel of the LORD asked him, "Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me."


Are you (am I) living recklessly? Are you living in such a way as to endanger your life and soul? Are you following Christ as Savior and Lord? Are you trying to live 2 lives (one for self and one for God?).

Are you involved in risky behavior? Drugs, extra marital sex, drunkenness, rolling with the wrong crowd, fights and quarrels

In Matthew 7:13-14 we are told to take the narrow path for wide is the path that leads to destruction

Proverbs 14:12 says; "There is a way that seems right to a person, but in the end it leads to death"

Psalm 1, which talks about the path we are on, says; "Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither- whatever they do prospers. Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

The key to discerning the way of God: The WORD of God


IV. GOD IN HIS GRACE PUTS STUFF IN FRONT OF OUR PATH TO STOP US FROM DESTROYING AND HURTING OURSELVES

This point connects to the previous one

Sometimes we are so bent on doing something that we ignore the Bible- which contains the will of God, and are oblivious to every "Stop sign" and speed bump that God puts in our path.

The account of Balaam and his talking donkey illustrate this. YET God in his grace puts stop signs and road blocks in our path to spare us and keep us from hurting ourselves.

God's gracious intervention with Balaam

-an angel to block his way
-a protective donkey

-God did a miracle: He enabled Balaam's donkey to talk to him. Balaam talking to his donkey must have been quite a sight to the entourage that was with him. Interesting: That his donkey spoke to him did not alert Balaam to the fact that something was wrong with what he was doing. It was not until the LORD opened Balaam's eyes that he saw what his donkey saw and was protecting him from all along-- an angel with a sword.

SAD: Balaam continued to go against God to his destruction


Couple of related principles

God can and does use a variety of means to get our attention: Often he uses his creation and creatures: Whether it be grasshoppers, frogs, gnats, a rooster, droughts, earthquakes, a great fish, a donkey. When unnatural things happen we need to pay attention and ask: Is God trying to get my attention.

Angels are real beings that God sends: Sometimes to warn, sometimes to protect, sometimes to judge, sometimes to comfort, etc. Hebrews 1:14 says; "Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?"



CONCLUSION

Going back to the question: "What path are you on?" I want to close today's lesson by encouraging you to Follow Jesus.

Jesus is the way, the truth, the Life. He is the only way to Heaven. In Him and Him alone is the forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

Balaam took a path that led to his death-- physically and eternally---- though God spoke to Him and he witnessed God's power and gave him some incredible revelations.

If you haven't already; Put your faith in Christ as Savior and Lord. If you are a follower of Jesus- praise God for his grace in putting blocks in our way to keep us from sin. Further: Let's be found staying faithful Christ, taking up our cross daily and following Him.

Let us pray.