Balaam, the Double-Minded Prophet
- source for questions
Numbers 22:1 through 25:18
- key verse for memorization
“God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19)
Balaam was a somewhat mysterious character whose story occupies three complete chapters in the Numbers narrative. He was a Gentile whose home was a city called Pethor near the Euphrates River (Deuteronomy 23:4). He had a reputation for divination (predicting the future) and incantation (using occult power to cast blessings and cursings). He also was quite willing to sell his services (2 Peter 2:15).
By this time, the Children of Israel had successfully defeated several enemies after leaving Egypt, including Amalek, the king of Arad; the Amorites; and Og, king of Bashan. Upon arriving in the plains of Moab they faced a different kind of enemy. Balak, king of Moab, recognized his inability to defeat Israel without supernatural help. From the text we conclude that Balaam’s reputation was widely known, since Balak sent for him from a great distance and offered a great price for his services.
Balaam offers four blessings upon God’s people, each from a different physical location. Each of these blessings pointed to the blessing of following God and the surety of His promises. However, New Testament references to Balaam all seem to imply his greed and lust for money. It was this greed that led him to look for ways to circumvent the revealed will of God to him. It seems that this greed not only caused deceitful behavior but also blinded his eyes and heart from the real truth of God’s message, which could have been applied to his own heart.
Eventually, even after expressing, “let me die the death of the righteous” (Numbers 23:10), Balaam was slain when Israel defeated the Midianites. (Numbers 31:8)
- How was the approach of Moab and the Midianites different from that of the previous enemies Israel had faced (Numbers 22:2-6)? What different approaches does the enemy of our souls use to try to defeat us spiritually?
- God’s instructions to Balaam are very clear in Numbers 22:12. What were those instructions? Why does the story continue past this point?
- In the light of God’s directions, what seemed to be Balaam’s desire?
- In reading Numbers 22:21-31, Balaam’s desires led him not only to make poor choices, but also blinded him to the providence and warning of God. How does this happen to people today?
- Numbers 22:34 records Balaam’s acknowledgement of sin. Is this repentance on his part? Why or why not?
- What was the general message of each of the four blessings (Numbers 22:30 through 24:14) pronounced by God through Balaam upon the Children of Israel?
- The New Testament refers to the way of Balaam (2 Peter 2:15), the error of Balaam (Jude 11), and the doctrine of Balaam (Revelation 2:14). What seems to be the sense of these three Scriptures and their warning to early-day Christians and to us today?
- God sometimes proves His sovereignty by overruling and/or using even the ungodly to fulfill His own purposes in the world. Give several Biblical examples and some modern-day examples.
How good it is to embrace the truth of the King of the Universe and to follow His precepts with both our words and our lives. His blessings are available to us today even though there is a battle to be fought. The battle is spiritual so we must be on guard and vigilant until the Lord calls us. “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!” (Numbers 23:10)