balaamThe story of Balaam, written in Numbers 22-25, presents us with a strange personality of a seer. It is hard to imagine how one person can have God’s supernatural spiritual gifts and a corrupted nature. The authors of the New Testament refer to Balaam in three verses. Apparently his story contains important lessons for New Testament believers. And, unfortunately, today we can see a lot of servants with a similar combination of spiritual gifts and a corrupt nature.

The king of Moab – Balak, whose kingdom bordered the camp of Israel, feared an attack and was not ready to fight against Israel. He had no reasons for his fears. Along with that, his concerns pushed him into a spiritual war with the Israelis. Balak decided to appeal the seer, Balaam, and force him to curse Israel. Balaam had a reputation of uttering curses and blessings with powerful effect for good or evil. Balaam was not an Israelite, but he had direct personal knowledge of the One True God. And with that, his character was rather odd. You can judge this yourself, on Balak’s proposal to curse Israel, Balaam said, “Even if Balak were to give me his palace filled with silver and gold, I would be powerless to do anything against the will of the Lord my God.” Numbers 22:18.

So with this, Balaam proclaimed his devotion to God and the impossibility to disobey Him. For the Lord told him, “Do not go with them. You are not to curse these people, for they have been blessed!” Numbers 22:12. But Balak’s ambassadors attacked Balaam again, and the Lord allowed him to go to Balak. However, he had to say only what the Lord would tell him to say. Despite all of this, in the heart of Balaam there was a living desire to curse Israel. On the way to Balak, God stopped Balaam, and he almost died. However, in the end, the Lord let him go, but confirmed his conditions, “Go with these men, but say only what I tell you to say.” So Balaam went on with Balak’s officials “Numbers 22:35; Balaam meets Balak, but no matter how tempting the conditions of Balak were, Balaam could not curse Israel. Moreover, Balaam proclaims God’s will for everyone – the necessity to bless Israel. However, Balaam still had the idea to harm Israel and continued to cooperate with Balak. When God prevented his attempt to curse Israel, Balak proposed a different strategy to Balaam against Israel. (Numbers 31:16). If the Moabite women could seduce the Israelites into idolatry and fornication, it would not be necessary to curse them. God himself would judge them. Balaam’s second strategy was successful, and 24,000 Israelites died as a result of God’s judgment. (Numbers 25:1-9). In doing this, Balaam displayed a surprising contradiction. More than once he was forbidden to curse Israel. Having a supernatural revelation, four times he had affirmed God’s unchanging intention to bless Israel and judge its enemies. But he stubbornly continued to cooperate with Balak and his plans for the destruction of Israel, thereby assisting his enemies. Because of his wickedness, Balaam paid for it with his life, he was killed, along with other enemies of Israel. What motive could be so strong that would cause Balaam to act in direct contradiction to the revelation he had received from God.

Speaking of false teachers in the church, Peter said, “They have wandered off the right road and followed the footsteps of Balaam son of Bozrah, who loved to earn money by doing wrong.” 2 Peter 2:15. Apostle Jude speaks of the same problem: “… Like Balaam, they deceive people for money. …” Jude 1:11.

The love of money led Balaam to his destruction. For this enrichment he was willing to trade in his marvelous spiritual gifts. Perhaps he was also flattered by the attention he received from King Balak and his princes. The love of money is closely tied in with the desire for fame and power. All these evil lusts grow from the soil of pride. We can make three important conclusions from the story of Balaam:

1. The Lord declared Jews as His nation forever.

The Lord declared Jews as His nation forever, and there is no power in the universe, human or satanic, that could cross out this declaration. Many times Jews were unfaithful to God and He judged them severely for it, but their unfaithfulness will never take away the faithfulness of God. And it’s important to see that this initiative comes from God and not from people. The Jews did not choose God, but God chose the Jews. In Numbers 24:9 the prophecy of Balaam reveals a decisive factor in the fate of people and nations. Speaking to Israel, he revealed what God has proclaimed: “Blessed is everyone who blesses you, O Israel, and cursed is everyone who curses you!” Often, without even noticing it, individuals and whole nations fate depends on their attitude towards the Jews. Those who bless Israel live in blessing, those who curse, live in curse.

2. One of the most powerful tools of Satan is the love of money.

One of the most powerful and successful tools of Satan against us is the love of money. This was a fact at the time of Balaam, and this is a fact today as well. Service, accompanied by powerful supernatural signs – especially the miracles of healing – can become means of enrichment. Money by itself is not evil. Being rich is not a sin. By nature, money is neutral. Money can be used either for good or for evil. But when we begin to love money, then we fall into Satan’s trap. Paul warned us about this, “But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.” 1 Timothy 6:9-10

The fashion of today is the so-called theology of prosperity. They are trying to convince us that true believers should certainly be rich. The significance of the pastor is determined by the make of his car, or by the number of people in his congregation. When we speak about God’s plan for the prosperity of believers, we should, first of all, pay attention on the spiritual perfection: “True humility and fear of the Lord lead to riches, honor, and long life.” Proverbs 22:4

3. There is a difference between gifts and spiritual fruits.

We need to understand the difference between spiritual gifts and spiritual fruits. Gifts demonstrate the ability bestowed by God, and the fruits present your character. A gift comes instantly. Fruits come through the slow process of changes. The adoption of a spiritual gift does not change the nature of man itself. If a person was proud or unreliable or deceitful before getting a spiritual gift, then after receiving the gift a person can still be proud, deceitful, and unreliable. Receiving the gift increases responsibility of the person, because it increases the influence of the man on other people. We should not judge the success of the life of the believer by the existence of gifts, rather by the existence of fruits. The primary importance of fruits is the development of a devout character.

The more spiritual gifts a man has, the more attention he must give to them in order to get the maximum amount of fruits. When we pass into eternity, we leave our gifts behind, but our character will always be with us. Balaam had a clear vision of a blessed ending that awaits the righteous men; it is clear from his prayer: “my soul will die with the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like theirs.” However, for his prayer Balaam did not receive any response. He died during God’s judgment over the Moabites, whose money had pushed him to rebel against God. The fate of Balaam is a graphic illustration of the teachings of Yeshua: ” Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.”Matthew 7:21-23.

Simply saying, only the obedience to God ensures us a place in Heaven.

Lev Falkovich

Translated from Russian

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