The Balaam Trap

From Tyler: I write for a daily devotional, which you can pick up for $5 here. We’re slowly building to having it be a year-long devotional, so it’s well worth your money. Here’s a recent post I wrote for it. 

“They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness.” 2nd Peter 2:15

Numbers 22-24 tells one of the funniest stories in the Bible. In the story we’re introduced to two main characters: Balaam and Balak.

Balak: king ruling a nation directly north of the Israelites in their conquest through The Promised Land God had given them.
Balaam: world-renowned false prophet the Bible describes as a diviner (meaning he talks to God).

King Balak, in his worry about the impending doom coming to his people, offers to hire Balaam to curse Israel. Balaam declines. Balak ups his offer considerably, and the extra money sways Balaam. He agrees to help King Balak with the condition that he can only speak the words God gives him.

On Balaam’s journey toward the capital city of Balak’s nation, he rides a donkey who on three separate occasions sees an angel of the Lord blocking the road. The donkey ends up throwing Balaam off the road into a ditch and into a wall. Here is the world-renowned “man of god” who cannot notice God’s messenger, and yet the donkey can.

After being hired to curse the nation of Israel, Balaam is only able to speak words of blessing over God’s people, to King Balak’s dismay. They move from mountain to mountain, giving an endless array of sacrifices, trying to provoke the God of the universe to go against His people. But God only gives Balaam words of blessing.

King Balak’s plan fails. The Israelites prevail. Balak and Balaam go down in history books as fools. God’s blessing cannot be bought and proclaiming you are God’s prophet doesn’t make it real.

Two things jump off the page from this story:

– God loves to bless His people.
– Words without action are cheap.

In the book of Revelation, one of the churches spoken of is referred to as being like Balaam, meaning they were prone to sinful ways because their faith was fake (Revelation 2:14).

They were all talk.

Are you?

Don’t fall for the Balaam trap—real faith inspired by God at work within, always extends to real action, real love, real care, toward those beyond yourself.