ESV - 11 Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam's error and perished in Korah's rebellion.
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►► 27 Facts about Balaam From The Bible: 1. Balaam (the Greek form) means subverter, or devourer of the people. (Num. 22:5). He was the son of Beor, a king of Edom (Gen. 36:31-32). 2. Having a widespread reputation of being able to prophesy and pronounce a curse or blessing on people, he was called by Balak, king of Moab, to curse Israel (Num. 22:5-6). 3. Elders or princes of two nations were sent to offer him rewards for cursing Israel (Num. 22:7; 2Pet. 2:15). He seems to have known God, for his first answer expressed a desire to inquire as to what God's will would be regarding 4. God spoke to him and revealed that His will was NOT to go and NOT to curse Israel, for they were blessed by Him (Num. 22:9-12). 5. He was faithful to report the truth to the princes that God refused to let him go (Num. 22:13-14). 6. More honorable princes were sent to Balaam with promises of greater riches and honor if he would only come (Num. 22:15-17). 7. He was faithful to reject such worldly honors, being consecrated enough not to disobey God for riches. However, by agreeing to inquire God after even knowing His will, he revealed a secret desire for reward and going as far as he dared, instead of definitely ending all negotiations (Num. 22:18-19). 8. Knowing that Balaam would eventually yield and go anyway, God answered him at night, giving him conditional permission: he was to speak only as directed (Num. 22:20). 9. Balaam was to rise up and go (to bless and not to curse Israel (Num. 22:20). 10. He did not wait for this, but rose to go. God's anger was kindled because of this, so He opposed Balaam (Num. 22:21-33). 11. Balaam finally saw the angel of the Lord and acknowledged his sin, offering to go back; but God allowed him to proceed, warning him again to speak what God says (Num. 22:34-35). 12. Balaam was again faithful, making it clear that he was powerless to say anything forbidden to speak (Num. 22:36-38). 13. He got his first glimpse of Israel from one of the high places of Baal (Num. 22:39-41). 14. Balaam sacrificed to God, not Baal, and he expected an answer from God (Num. 23:1-3). 15. God did meet him and Balaam told Him of his sacrifices to Him (Num. 23:4). 16. These were of clean animals, indicating that Balaam understood God's requirements. God put a word of prophecy in Balaam's mouth and he delivered it faithfully to Balak (Num. 23:5-10). 17. He was willing to incur the wrath of Balak to speak what God gave him (Num. 23:11-12). 18. Balaam again had sacrifices offered and went to meet the Lord (Num. 23:13-15). 19. God met him again and put a word of prophecy in his mouth which he faithfully spoke to Balak (Num. 23:16-24). He incurred the wrath of Balak because of truth again (Num. 23:25-26). 20. Another time Balaam sacrificed to the Lord and waited for His word (Num. 23:27--Num. 24:1). 21. The Spirit of God came upon Balaam, and he prophesied of Israel (Num. 24:2-9). 22. He then incurred the wrath of Balak again and was ordered out of Moab. Before leaving Moab, Balaam gave Balak one more prophecy regarding what Israel would do to Moab in the latter days (Num. 24:10-24). 23. He finally yielded to the point of teaching Balak how to tempt Israel to sin so that God would curse them Himself (Num. 22:7,17-18; 24:11-13; 25; 31:16; Dt. 23:4-5; Josh. 24:9-10; Neh. 13:2; Mic. 6:5; 2Pet. 2:13-16; Jude 1; Rev. 2:14). 24. He returned to his home after having gained a reward by teaching Balak to ensnare Israel in sin (Num. 24:25; 2Pet. 2:15; Jude 1; Rev. 2:14). 25. Balaam became a "soothsayer" (Josh. 13:22) when he betrayed God and Israel. 26. He ended his life as an ally of Midian fighting Israel (Num. 31:8; Josh. 13:22). 27. He was a true prophet once, but went astray because he "loved the wages of unrighteousness" (2Pet. 2:16). He went into error for reward (Jude 1) and he taught the wrong doctrine for reward (Rev. 2:14).
Balaam was an enigmatic character so that many question whether he was a prophet of God or not. The Scriptures indicate he was a believer. He confessed God as his God, “the LORD my God,” Numbers 22:18, calling Him by the covenant name Yahweh. He offered burnt offerings which were dedication offerings, Numbers 23:4, 14, 29. He acted like a prophet of God in waiting for Him to speak to him, Numbers 22:8, and God spoke to Him, Numbers 22:12, 20. God intervened when he went without permission which God would not do with one who is not His prophet. God used a donkey to correct him. Jonah is another example of God dealing with a wayward prophet with an animal. Although he was a soothsayer, supposedly foreseeing the future, Joshua 13:22, Balaam was bold and faithful in proclaiming the message from God instead of cursing Israel, Deuteronomy 23:4-5, Joshua 24:9-10, Nehemiah 13:2. In the first two pronouncements, Balaam passed on what God relayed to him, but in Numbers 24:1, 2, something is different. He did not use sorcery and the Spirit of God came upon him. The Holy Spirit would not come upon one who did not belong to God. II Peter 2:15 says Balaam was rebuked which suggests he was a believer, but like an apostate. When the Lord said to Balaam, “Your way is perverse before Me,” Numbers 22:32, He was scolding him for his behavior before God. This would not be said to a person who did not belong to Him. He must have been the Lord’s for Him to even consider him. Compare II Kings 3:14 when Jehoshaphat’s presence was why the Lord intervened. In Numbers 22:34, Balaam confessed his sin. But Balaam took a wrong turn. Balaam’s execution at the hands of Israel, Numbers 31:8, Joshua 13:22, was because of “the counsel of Balaam to trespass against the LORD” Numbers 31:16, which happened in Numbers 25:1-9, Deuteronomy 23:3-6, soon after the oracles. As a believer, he failed to be a testimony and his actions greatly affected Israel. Balaam failed his God, and the effect was long-lasting: the ‘Way of Balaam’ – marketing God’s gift, II Pet 2:15, 16; the ‘Error of Balaam’ – misrepresenting God’s Word, Jude 11, and the ‘Doctrine of Balaam’ – misjudging God’s nature, Revelation 2:14. When Peter mentioned the ‘way of Balaam,’ he paralleled Balaam with the false teachers. They both forsook the right way, which means they were once in the right way of the truth, II Peter 2:2. Also mentioned are the words of Micah, who told the people of Israel to remember the words of Balaam which refers to his oracles, Micah 6:5. For Micah to speak of Balaam this way, indicates he was indeed a prophet of the Lord. Balaam illustrates those who the Lord used at one time for His glory. But it also shows that Balaam did not live faithfully for the Lord, compromising godly behavior for his own gain. Furthermore, he also caused Israel to sin.
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