sympathy for the devil: we’ve been warned

The Word for today:
Numbers 30

They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness. (from 2 Peter 2:14-16)

Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion. (Jude 1:11)

But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. (Revelation 2:14)

We say goodbye to Balaam today. As we do, I must confess that I’m conflicted about him. I have a certain regard, even sympathy, for him.

But scripture isn’t fooled. It is neither conflicted nor sympathetic about Balaam, and makes of him an example of spiritual error.

He will pop up, here and there, throughout the rest of scripture. He will continue to garner a lot of ink. But his name will become a byword, and his life a parable of darkness.

We knew from the start that he was the charlatan, the swindler, the prophet for profit. But he’s such a spiritual scam artist that he will steal your soul and then ask you for change.

We need to be wary of Balaams, past and present. So let’s take a look at this personified parable to see what he represents…

First, we are warned about the way of Balaam.
The way of Balaam is covetousness. We’ve already gotten a glimpse (Numbers 22:7) of what motivates Balaam’s ministry. Our suspicions are confirmed in 2 Peter:
They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness. (from 2 Peter 2:14-16)

Next, scripture reminds us to avoid the error of Balaam.
His error was that he was not aware that God could declare righteous these sinners who trust in Him. Balaam thought God must curse/punish Israel, as the natural man reckons. But there is a higher righteousness in Christ. God had dealt with sin in the camp with the brazen serpent, just as God now declares sinners righteous by faith in Christ. (See Jude 11, above.)

Finally, beware the doctrine of Balaam.
The doctrine of Balaam was to entice the Jews to commit idolatry, to corrupt the people whom he could not curse. (See Revelation 2:14, above.) The church is not hurt from the outside. Satan joins the church to hurt it from within. (If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.) Jesus was betrayed from the inside, by a “friend,” one of “his people.”

***

So whatever happened to Balaam? He kept working the angles until he died:
The children of Israel also killed with the sword Balaam the son of Beor, the soothsayer, among those who were killed by them. (Joshua 13:22)

Balaam—the false way, the error, the false doctrine—is the antithesis of Jesus—the Way, the Truth, the Life.

But I still like him, which shows us precisely how the world will be taken in by the ultimate antithesis, the Antichrist, who will be every bit as winsome and seductive (and spiritually confusing) as Balaam ever was:
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. (from 2 Corinthians 11:13-15)

We’ve been warned.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

About Stand in the Rain Blogger

Trying to be who God made me, I am wary of my influences. I avoid the culture that surrounds me, for the most part. I soaked up that crap for 40 years. I am trying to replace the word of the world with the unvarnished Word of God.** I like people, but I like solitude just as much. Go figure.** I adore Jesus Christ. I am flipped-out, flamingly and fervently in love with Him. I count it a privilege to draw breath in His universe. All my springs are in Him.** I am crazy about my wife, Shelley. She outshines the sun. I can't help it if I'm lucky.** My heroes are my kids--Caitlin, Gwenlyn, Frankie, & Eddy. I aspire to be like them when I grow up.
This entry was posted in Stand in the Rain Blog. Bookmark the permalink.