What Was Wrong With Balaam Num. 22:6-35 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
In the Old Testament we see what was wrong with Balaam and in the New Testament we see what Balaam did wrong. The New Testament identifies the way of Balaam, the doctrine of Balaam and the error of Balaam. The way of Balaam [2 Pet 2:15] was to love the wages of unrighteousness. The doctrine of Balaam [Rev 2:14] was to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit fornication. The error of Balaam [Jude 11] was to curse and oppose God’s chosen people.
What can we discern from Num 22 that shows us what was wrong with Balaam? We see the following things that were wrong with Balaam:
Balaam’s pride – Num 22:6-12 – Balak’s messengers told Balaam “that he whom thou blessest is blessed, and he whom thou cursest is cursed” – and rather than correct them, since God is the only one who can do what they said [Gen 12:3], he took the compliment – compare him to Herod in Acts 12:22-23 and contrast him to Joseph and Daniel in Gen 41:16 and Dan 2:28-30 – Balaam knew that he couldn’t bless and curse people – that’s why he prayed to the Lord the night the messengers arrived – if God wouldn’t let him curse them then he wasn’t going to be able to do it.
Balaam’s disingenuity – Num 26:13 – Balaam answered the messengers with only a partial answer from God [Num 22:8] – he knew more than he was telling – he knew that they were blessed and he was told specifically, “thou shalt not curse the people” – if Balaam had told the messengers the whole truth they probably wouldn’t have come back a second time.
Balaam’s respect of persons – Num 26:15-19 – when Balak sent more messengers and more honorable messengers to Balaam than the first time and when they promised to promote him, he couldn’t resist because of his respect of persons [Prov 28:21] – like the Pharisees, he loved the praises of men more than the praises of God.
Balaam’s covetousness – Num 22:19 – those new messengers got Balaam’s attention with the promise of money and fame – there was absolutely no reason for Balaam to inquire further of the Lord; he knew the Lord’s mind already [Num 22:12] – he was just looking for an excuse to go.
Balaam’s false piety – Num 22:18-21 – Balaam told the messengers that he couldn’t go beyond the word of the Lord even if they offered him Balak’s house full of silver and gold – that wasn’t even close to the truth – Balaam ignored the condition God put on traveling with these men [Num 22:20] and rode out with them first thing in the morning – he couldn’t wait to get his hands on the money though he pretended that it didn’t matter to him one bit.
Balaam’s disobedience – Num 22:20-22 – the Lord said to him, “If the men come to call thee, rise up…” – he was told to wait for their call – he didn’t – he just saddled up and left in the morning.
Balaam’s wickedness – Num 22:27-33 – Balaam didn’t know that the ass he was riding was turning away from the Lord, thus protecting him – he was ready to kill her – a righteous man wouldn’t have done that [Prov 12:10] – the Lord said of Balaam, “thy way is perverse before me.”
Balaam’s worldly sorrow – Num 22:34 – when Balaam said, “I have sinned” he didn’t repent any more than Pharaoh repented in Egypt [Ex 9:27] or Judas repented in Jerusalem [Matt 27:4] – he had what Paul called the “sorrow of the world,” [2 Cor 7:10].
Balaam’s stubborn rebellion – Num 22:35 – the Lord told Balaam that he would let him continue with the messengers under one condition “only the word that I shall speak unto thee, that thou shalt speak” – Balaam even repeated this condition to Balak – however, Balaam never intended to keep the condition – Deut 23:4-5 shows us that Balaam tried to curse the Jews but the Lord turned his curse into a blessing – what a wicked, lying rebel he was – after his failures to curse Israel Balaam gave Balak counsel [Num 31:16] to invite the Jews to eat the sacrifices to their idols and to entice them to fornicate with the Midianite women – as a result of this counsel, Israel killed Balaam when they fought with the Midianites [Num 31:8].
Conclusion: all of these horrible things were already in Balaam before the messengers came to call him and they are obvious to us – the point simply is this – the Lord knew what was wrong with Balaam and he knows what is wrong with you – when the Lord stops you from doing something that you are determined to do you had better consider very carefully that the Lord knows you way better than you know yourself – by stopping you he is trying to protect you and the people that are going to get hurt as a result of your stubborn rebellion – listen to the Lord.