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Balaam: A Judas Type

April 19th, 2009 by Vic

Numbers 22-25

This is a man who did not understand God.  His love for money didn’t seem to affect his relationship with God.  He was superstitious, covetous and yet God spoke through him.  He spoke words of prophecy and acted like a prophet, but was never called a prophet.  He was a Mesopotamian seer.  He knew about God and tried to change God’s mind.  He spoke with the Lord and the Lord spoke with him.  He was known as a seer, but his donkey could see better.

Balaam illustrates the stupidity of a person who has become greedy and does not see himself as blind and naked. He doesn’t realize that greed has changed him.  It is always easier to see greed in someone else than in ourselves.  If you had a talking donkey, how much would you sell him for?  Are there some precious things in your life that you can’t see because of a bad attitude?

It has been 40 years since the children of Israel had left Egypt.  Moses had destroyed some large kingdoms east of the Jordan River.  Numbers 21 tells us they were living in the captured cities of Sihon and Og.  Og was ruler in a kingdom of giants.  His casket was 6 x 13 ½.  He was a big man.  Moses had defeated him.  What would you think if you were a neighboring king?

Num 22:1-6

Balak the king of Moab did not want to fight the Israelites.  They already had a reputation that their God was fighting for them.  Balak formed an alliance with the Midian king to plan their strategy.  They knew of a city of powerful seers in the Far East who had the power to curse people and make it happen.  It may have been in the same country of the wise men that saw the star about 1500 years later when Jesus was born.

These 2 kings send some representatives to hire Balaam, the best of the seers, to come back to the Jordan valley and curse Israel for them.


The representatives of Moab and Midian travel east and make their offer to Balaam.  Balaam says he wants to sleep on it before he makes a decision.  In the night God asks Balaam why he is hanging out with these people and forbids him to go with them.

In the morning Balaam gives the report to the delegation and repeats God’s word to them.  The guys go home.  Wouldn’t it be easier if satan would quit tempting us with our first and final “no”?


A few weeks later a more distinguished delegation came to hire Balaam with a much larger contract offer.  Balaam was impressed, but said he still could not go even if he was given a house full of gold unless God allowed it.  It is interesting that he mentions money.  But he is polite and says, you’ve come all this way so spend the night and I’ll ask God another time.  Maybe He’s changed His mind.

Here is a little insight into the will of God.  God’s perfect will was that Balaam not go.  God knew that Balaam would be tempted and become greedy and wicked.  Maybe God hoped that Balaam would not yield to temptation and see the hand of God in his life and do what God told him to do.  Balaam had probably never been to the far west.  Maybe he would learn about the God of Israel and why God blesses some and curses others.

For whatever reason, God allowed Balaam to go.  And Balaam started thinking about being rich.  He was not thinking about this as a God project.  He would find a way to please God and please man.  He couldn’t sleep.  He went with them early in the morning.

Often when we push our own way to do our own thing that God really did not want us to do, we don’t have eyes to see God on the journey.  But the donkey sees the angel of God.


God wanted to remind Balaam that he must obey.  So God allowed the donkey to talk.

Here is the lesson on how stupid we become when we get focused our own way.  Balaam is talking to his donkey and says if I had a sword right now, I’d kill you.  Do you realize how much a talking donkey would be worth?  God put a treasure right in front of him and he didn’t see.  We get angry at the blessings and gifts God has put in our lives.


God opened Balaam’s eyes to see the angel with a sword.  He was blind to reality.  His heart was going the wrong direction.  He was going his own way and God says stop doing your own thing.  This is to be my project.  I’m the one organizing this Holy Land tour.  Speak only what I tell you.

Balaam’s attitude was wrong.  He was not looking for ways to see God glorified.  He was not expecting God to go with him.  He was going to see if he could somehow get away from God or appease God and get rich.

Balaam says, “I have sinned.”  Judas used these same words.  When some people say, “I have sinned” they are truly repentant.  Others say it with no intention of changing direction in their lives.


Balaam and Balak meet.


Balak sacrifices very expensive offerings to God on 7 altars.  Balaam goes to another part of the mountain to pray and God says go back to the altars and I will speak through you there.  When he spoke only blessings for Israel come out of Balaam’s mouth.


Balak is ticked and takes Balaam to another mountain where a different god was worshipped and the process is repeated a second time.  But the God of Moses has not changed His mind.  Note verse 21.  God had forgiven Israel’s sin and He no longer saw their iniquity.  And verse 23 says God is protecting Israel against evil omens, divinations and curses


Balak takes Balaam to another mountain and starts the same procedure, but Balaam did not go off by himself.


He lifted his eyes and saw the camp of Israel.  Their camp was the shape of a cross.  The Spirit of the Lord came on him and he blesses Israel again.


Balak is really mad.  He says your God must not want you to be rich.  Balaam speaks a 4th prophecy and goes home.  He tried to outsmart God, but God just would not let the curse come out.  God can speak through wacko diviners.  The star of Jesus will save people from their sins.

Balaam returned to his place (25).  That is the same phrase used of Judas.  He returned to doing the same things.  Repentance means going the other way.

Something happens between chapters 24 and 25.  Balaam must have come back to Midian.

Numbers 31:16  Balaam counseled the king on how to make God mad at the children of Israel.  Balaam knew about the God of Israel, but did not honor Him.

Num 25:1-5

Balak sent pretty girls down to entice the men to worship false idols.  Baal became a big problem for Israel.  Elijah killed 450 of the prophets of Baal.

God tells Moses to hang all the leaders publicly who are responsible for this immorality and sexual distortion.  The leaders are held accountable.  Then Moses told the judges to slay everyone who has gone to Peor to worship Baal.


While Moses is cleansing the camp some young buck brought this pretty Midianite girl back to meet his family.  He marched her proudly right though the camp totally unaware why people were weeping in front of the temple.  People were dying all around but he was happy.

Phinehas knew how to deal with sin.  He was the grandson of Aaron.  None of the priests or Moses took any action.  Phinehas took a spear, followed them to their tent, and killed them both.  Then the killing stopped.


Phinehas was zealous for God’s sake.  God says, “He’s my man.”  Our sin is just as stupid and gross as this man and his Midianite floosy.  But Jesus was pierced for our sins.

God deals radically with sin.  That is how we should deal with sin in our lives, in our homes, in our churches.  Don’t let sin linger.

Phinehas’ reward was a covenant of peace and his kids would also have peace.  If you want peace, keep your home clean.  What commercials do you watch?  What is in your library?  Take out the spear and kill it if you want peace.  Peace for the Jew meant well- being, health, and quality relationships.  Don’t let sin linger.


God is jealous for us.  He wants us to get rid of sin.  Sin is like a rabid dog.  It is dying.  You need to kill it so it does not hurt anyone else.

At some point Balaam made his home in Midian and was killed with the 5 kings of Midian (Num 31:8).  He was living in the land of luxury, but just for a short time.  He repented, but did not change his ways.

He could have gone home and told his people about the God who helps some wilderness wanderers conquer giants.  He could have told them of a God who know the future.  He could have told them about the God who gives peace.  But he went his own way, the way of Balaam.

Three times this story is mentioned in the NT.

2 Peter 2:15  The way of Balaam who loved the way of unrighteousness.  He was impressed with Balak.  The love of money became a root of evil.  “If I had a houseful of gold…”  He could be bought to oppose the will of God.  Don’t let money blind you.  Godliness with contentment is great gain.

Jude 11 The error of Balaam was thinking that God would curse sinners, that God would not forgive, or that God’s grace was limited.  The children of Israel had sinned.  They had grumbled against God and rebelled.  But when they confess their sin, God forgave.

Rev 2:14 The teaching of Balaam was living in the gray areas of obedience.  Mixing the sacred with worldliness.  Offering sacrifices to God on pagan shrines.  Compromising morality.  Are we letting sinfulness in our homes and churches?  Greed, homosexuality, premarital sex, movies.  You can curse your life by mixing with worldliness.

God’s will is clear if we have eyes to see.  God’s permissive will may seem clear if we are not blinded by greed.  God wants us to enjoy life.  He wants us to be aware that He is with us.  He wants us to honor Him.  He has dealt with sin and selfishness radically through His Son.  We must deal with sin radically, quickly, permanently through faith in His Son.

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