Daily Thought for: 7th March

BALAAM: A LOVER OF MONEY

Numbers 22. 1-12; 23. 7-26; 2 Peter 2. 14-16; Jude 11

Scripture condemns those who turn away from the truth and lead others astray. The Pharisees are denounced by the Lord. 2 Timothy and 2 Peter warn against those who corrupt and resist the truth, who, having known the way of righteousness, turn from it, 2 Tim. 2. 17, 3. 8; 2 Pet. 2. 21, 15. 

Thus it is with Balaam. He has the knowledge of the true God (he lived in Mesopotamia). God at the outset tells him Israel is blessed, Num. 22. 12, yet when he receives a second delegation from Balak, he accedes to his request, ostensibly to curse Israel. His life is saved three times, when an angel with drawn sword confronts him, yet he persists on his way; Peter calls this madness—how foolhardy Balaam was to persist in going, 2 Pet. 2. 16. 

His prophecies are wonderful and true, yet he does not at heart believe them, nor does he want to. He says (1) ‘How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed?’, 23. 8. So what was the point of his journey? (2) ‘Hath God said, and shall he not do it?’, 23. 19: an ironic comment on the whole enterprise, as he had initially been told not to go, 22. 12. (3) Israel is ‘blessed’, 23. 20, yet he does not seek to join this special people; cf. 23. 9. (4) Israel will ‘eat up his enemies’, 24. 8, yet we find him, shortly afterwards, living amongst some of those enemies, 31. 8. (5) ‘Let me die the death of the righteous’, 23. 10, yet (assuming Balak paid him) he lived after this on ‘the wages of unrighteousness’, 2 Pet. 2. 15, and certainly amongst an unrighteous people, the Midianites. 

Why was this? (1) He did not love the truth, 2 Thess. 2. 10; (2) The love of money. He somehow hoped to obtain Balak’s silver or gold, 22. 18; we assume he made his living from prophesying. Simon the sorcerer sought prophetic, supernatural power with money, Acts 8. 18-20, whilst Balaam sought money through his prophetic gift. Peter’s forthright words show the seriousness of such sin, ‘Thy money perish with thee . . . thou art in the bond of iniquity’, as does Paul, linking lovers of self, money and pleasure, and haters of good, 2 Tim. 3. 2-4. Peter also writes that Balaam ‘loved the wages of unrighteousness’; cf. also Jude 11, 1 Tim. 6. 10. 

 

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