INTERESTING FACTS : "We account the scriptures of God to be the most sublime philosophy. I find more sure marks of authenticity in the Bible than in any profane history whatsoever." SIR Isaac Newton, English MATHEMATICIAN, and scientist, 1642-1727
DAILY READING : [NUMBERS 23 - 25]
TEXT : Num 24:10 And Balac was angry with Balaam, and clapped his hands together; and Balac said to Balaam, I called thee to curse my enemy, and behold thou hast decidedly blessed him this third time. Num 24:11 Now therefore flee to thy place: I said, I will honour thee, but now the Lord has deprived thee of glory. Num 24:12 And Balaam said to Balac, Did I not speak to thy messengers also whom thou sentest to me, saying, Num 24:13 If Balac should give me his house full of silver and gold, I shall not be able to transgress the word of the Lord to make it good or bad by myself; whatsoever things God shall say, them will I speak. Num 24:14 And now, behold, I return to my place; come, I will advise thee of what this people shall do to thy people in the last days.
THEME : TRUTH
In chapter twenty-two of the Book of Numbers, we are introduced to an unusual character of the Bible named Balaam. Summoned by Israel's enemies to curse them, we discover there are noble qualities in Balaam. However, he stands as an enigma as well. For although Balaam hears from God in a real way, he also has the tendency to compromise. Specifically, on the one hand he refuses to negotiate the Word of God. He will not say anything more or less, than what God tells him. On the other hand, he looks for a way to side step the Word of God, and he does it with deception.
We read that Balaam states he cannot alter God's word for money and he tells Balak so. Still, with regard to his supposed commitment to God - one that appears to be unfaltering and fixed, we learn in the Analogy of Faith [comparing Scripture with Scripture] that he "loved the wages of unrighteousness." In other words, he prostituted his gift of hearing the Word of the Lord for money, although he "pretends" not to do so.
2Pe_2:15 Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; / Jud_1:11 Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.
These verses from second Peter and Jude show the need for careful study of the Scriptures, and demonstrate how we are never to build a doctrine on one or two verses. This is the "trick" of most cults. They build an entire body of "truth" around a single verse of Scripture and then promote it as God's Word. The Word of God is found - again, in the Analogy of Faith - comparing all of what the Bible has to say on a subject and not one verse or section of Scripture.
In any case, Balaam sells his relation with God [although he is called a soothsayer in Joshua 13:22] for the love of money. He speaks truth to a degree, including uttering a messianic prophecy [Num 24:17 I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.]. Nevertheless, he is a man who erred from the faith for the love of money as we have seen.
1Ti 6:2 And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort. 1Ti 6:3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; 1Ti 6:4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, 1Ti 6:5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. 1Ti 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 1Ti 6:7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 1Ti 6:8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 1Ti 6:9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 1Ti 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 1Ti 6:11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
Balaam also counseled Balak on how to get God to be angry with them, and judge them. John Gill comments from Numbers 31:16 -
"Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam,.... Who advised the Midianites to send their women into the camp of Israel, and allure them to uncleanness, and so draw them into idolatry, which counsel they followed and it succeeded; for, by this means, they were brought to commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor; by worshipping Baalpeor, the god of the Moabites and Midianites; whereby they transgressed the commandment of God, which forbid them having and worshipping any other gods besides him, and is a sin highly offensive to him, being greatly derogatory to his honour and glory: and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord; for that sin; and in that plague died 24,000 persons." [Num 25:9.]
TRUTH FOR TODAY : WE MUST STAY FAITHFUL TO THE TRUTH OF GOD'S wORD!
What is worse than meeting, hearing, reading, or listening to a patently false prophet or teacher, is following a good teacher who has a fatal flaw. In other words, many false teachers are obvious. Most Christians will not listen to them or follow them. Yet, Christians will listen to someone who enjoys a reputation for orthodoxy or for admiration as a reputable teacher of the Bible. These modern Balaam's are harder to detect than the more flagrant, false teacher is.
The Church is filled today with false teachers and teachings. Yet, these men and women draw enormous crowds because what they speak about is what the people want to hear. However, the size of the crowd and the popularity of the teacher does not mean they speak the truth. We read in Jeremiah -
Jer 5:30 A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; Jer 5:31 The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?
What is frightening about these modern Balaam's is that they may utter truth about many doctrines of the Bible. Still, it is that one heretical teaching the poisons all the rest. This is why we need today to seek the old paths. God counseled Israel during Jeremiah's ministry to seek for the ways of the Bible, then abandoned. He told them they would find rest for their souls [minds] in the truth of what was then past. Yet, they said they would not.
Jer 6:16 Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.
The greatest need in the Church today is Biblical literacy and understanding. We must view and judge the world by God's truth, not the false teacher's. in this way, we will be able to avoid the counsel of Balaam and the judgment of God. Yet, will the people have it so? Remember, every tongue needs an ear. We must pray that God gives us "ears to hear," so we will not be taken in by the Balaam's of this age. We must stay faithful to the truth of God's Word, for that is the only sure path to peace and security.