…and he took up his discourse and said, "The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor, the oracle of the man whose eye is opened, the oracle of him who hears the words of God, who sees the vision of the Almighty, falling down with his eyes uncovered:”
Balaam was a prophet of sorts. He wasn’t an Israelite; he was from an area of what is now northern Syria. He refers to God by the name that God used to identify Himself to Moses at the burning bush, and calls Him the “Most High.” Maybe he inherited some knowledge about God from the family of Laban, relatives of Abraham who had settled in Syria.
However it was, he practiced divination and was known for accuracy in his fortune-telling. It was commonly understood that whoever Balaam blessed would be blessed and whoever he cursed would be cursed. He told the Princes whom Balaak, the king of Moab, sent that “he could not go beyond the Word of the Lord” in His prophecies, no matter how much they offered him to curse Israel.
But Balaam was in it for the money. While he had some rudimentary fear of God, he didn’t really know Him or love Him. He loved money and fame. He was a false prophet with a reputation for accuracy but a greedy heart.
His own description of himself is telling: “the man whose eye is opened, the man who hears the words of God, who sees the vision of the Almighty, falling down with his eyes uncovered.”
Balaam thought he could get away with saying the right things in His official role as a prophet while acting contrary to God’s Word in his personal life.
When he wasn’t allowed to curse Israel, he counseled Balaak to entrap the Israelites in sin by sending Moabite women to seduce the Israelites and get them involved in idolatry, so that God Himself would punish them.
That story is in the next chapter, Numbers 25. It resulted in the death of 24,000 Israelites, war between the Israelites and the Moabites, and the death of many more, including Balaam himself.
A half-hearted commitment to God, a curiosity about the Bible with no real surrender to Christ, a dabbling in religion, cuts no ice with God. It’s dangerous. While God will uphold His Word, even in the mouth of a hypocrite, God seeks our hearts and draws us to Himself. He won’t be satisfied with anything less than our heart.
Lord, forgive my casual attitude toward Your Word. Give me a heart that is truly surrendered to You, a true and living faith, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Pastor Dan Giles