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Monday, August 07, 2006

Why is Balaam considered a false prophet?

Question: What's your take on the story of balaam? Not the angel and the donkey, but King Balak and Balaam and why Balaam is later referred to as a false prophet?

Answer: As far as Balak is concerned, the answer is quite simple. He was a king who hated the children of Israel and wanted to see them cursed. The only problem with that was the fact that God had already said that He would bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel(Genesis 12:3). (Just a quick note of distinction here before I go any further. If you read the book of Galatians, you will see that this warning of blessing and cursing now applies to the Church as well as the Jews and doesn't necessarily refer to the modern state of Israel.)

As far as Balaam is concerned, the answer to this is rather frightening for me as a minister of God who believes in the perpetuity of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit as listed in I Corinthians chapter 12:7-10, which includes prophecy. The reason why Balaam is considered a false prophet is not because his prophecies were false. In fact, his prophecies were accurate. Balaam is a false prophet because he was motivated by greed and eventually formulated a plan to entice the children of Israel into idolatry (see 2 Peter 2:14-16 and Revelation 2:14).

Here is what is scary about this. While Balaam's soul was in darkness, he continued to be used by God in the gift of prophecy. Why is this? Well, one reason is because the Bible says, "The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable." (Romans 11:29) This explains why people continue to receive miracles from ministers who are outwardly righteous, but inwardly corrupt. Consider that Jesus said,"Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'" (Matthew 7:22-23) According to Jesus, it is possible for someone to be on their way to hell, but still do great miracles in the name of Christ.

I think the number one thing that ministers need to be cautious of is greed. Greed was the downfall of Balaam, a man with a genuine gift from God, and it will be the downfall of all who are in the ministry to get rich. The sad truth is this. There are those who think nothing of fleecing the ignorant masses by selling blessings from God. (Put in one dollar and get back ten! Give me $100 dollars for a specially annointed prayer cloth to heal your Aunt Suzie!) The sobering truth is this. Aunt Suzie may get healed, but the minister of God may lose his or her soul in the process.


Anonymous said...

Is there another possibility? That He was a true prophet at the time of the donkey speaking - he had said he wouldn't take silver or gold, nor would he go beyond what the Lord commanded him to speak (Num 24:13)

Perhaps the motivation was greed (maybe not - to preserve the moab people with whom he had settled with), but he later devised a plan to trap Israel in sin. At that point he sinned and would be considered a false prophet.

In other words, he could have transgressed in the latter stages and then be considered false. Just like so many prominent prophets now who fall from the faith or backslide.

Aaron D. Taylor said...

I appreciate your comment, but I think we're saying the same thing.

Anonymous said...

I believe that as it says in Romans, their conscience is seared with a hot iron.

Balaam may hear from God, and the words that he speaks, he does speak from God. But this has nothing to do with his heart. The man had not dealt with those things on the inside.

The truth is, everyone of us has issues on the inside (the heart), and if we don't repent, they will overcome us. We must overcome evil with good - by the blessings of the blood of the Lamb, by humbling ourselves and repenting.

God allowed Balaam to go, but don't you know that if Balaam's heart was more pure, he would have sought as to why he was truly going? We see a key about Balaam when he decides to go without the beckoning of the men - he is self-willed. This is why the anger of the Lord is kindled.

Balaam only speaks what God says, but he still continues to look for loopholes, and when he can't "bend God's wrist" by this means or that, he finally figures out that the key is to tempt Israel into sin. This makes him no different than Lucifer.

Don't put people on a pedestal just because they can hear the voice of God. Any prophet who is unrepentant will have the same fate as Balaam - the bottomless pit. We, in terms of this lesson, need to see that no matter what kind of gift God uses in us, we need to be searching our hearts. Balaam, from the beginning, obviously had seeds of greed and covetousness that he had not dealt with, plus seeds of pride (thinking that he could entreat God with enchantments to curse Israel, for his own fleshly gain - not much of a man of God, come to think of it!) His prophecies only were true because he did one thing correct - he spoke exactly what God said.

And as far as Genesis 12:3 goes, people should still be careful not to curse Israel. God is not through with them yet - read in Revelation, where he places a seal on the foreheads of 144,000 Jews. And we also read that there is a veil over their hearts, so when they read the Word, they cannot yet see the truth - they are given to a spirit of slumber. And in Romans 11 (maybe 12), it says not to boast against the Jews, lest your branch be removed. We should be careful not to curse them even today. Of course, a Christian shouldn't curse anyone, but even those who curse Israel today - I don't feel good about their fate. They may have cast off Jesus, but God will redeem people in Israel, and remember this - the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before the self-righteous. There will be Jews who are not currently living for God, but will repent, and they will be sealed.

Back to Balaam - let's look at some Scriptures...see Numbers 22:12. "And God said unto Balaam, Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed." God not only gave a command to Balaam, but a clue about these people, the Israelites - they are blessed. Do not curse them. He sends away the first group of people, but when the second group of princes come in verses 16-17, they repeat the same phrase (curse me this people). Balaam already knew God's mind - Israel is a blessed people. Instead of running off the princes, he had to seek the mind of the Lord, and the Lord gave stipulations as to which Balaam would be allowed to go, which he ignored anyway.

Let's look at Jonah for a minute - he was a disobedient prophet, yet when he told the people to throw him overboard and that the waves would be stopped, God honored his words. The waves were stopped.

Then we look at 1 Kings 13 - a man of God came and prophesied against the priests of the high places. Then another prophet came and lied to him about which way to go, and the lying prophet's prophecy came to pass - the man of God died at the hand of a lion, not returning whither he went. Of course, this also fulfills part of the man of God's prophecy - he disobeyed the word that the Lord gave him to do - not to turn again by the same way that he came (1 Kings 13:9). He disobeyed, and so the lying's prophet's prophecy was fulfilled - the man of God died.

God can choose an unclean vessel to do his work. Judas was a devil, yet he was anointed to do miracles in the name of Jesus, whom he later betrayed. As a matter of fact, Jesus specifically spoke that Judas was unclean as he was washing the disciple's feet. So we see that prophets can be unclean - have unclean hearts.

Any man of God, regardless of what position God has given them, has to die daily, as Paul wrote. If not, we succumb to the works of the flesh, and can be just like Balaam, or Judas.

The moral - don't keep your eyes on Balaam, or be surprised that the prophecies were accurate. God's word is infallible. Man is fallible. Balaam died as a soothsayer.

Aaron D. Taylor said...

Excellent insight! I agree with you that the story of Balaam illustrates that even prophets that deliver the true message of God can have wicked hearts. Our ultimate trust should be in God, not man.

Anonymous said...

this has been such a timely word for thy humble servant. just at a time when god has asked me to share some biblical truth. thanks. wow.

Anonymous said...

This is real and we are seeing it in our generation where a number of prohets are living contray to the will of God and they continue preaching, woe unto them, and we pray that they examine their hearts and motives before death strikes

Anonymous said...

Balaam heart is wrong.

Anonymous said...

I am very eager to know that is there any OT evidence for the fact that Balaam induced Isrealite youth into sin