Numbers Chapter 22:1-34

“Lessons From The Life Of Balaam”


This morning we want to examine a man who has been called by many commentators "the STRANGEST man in all of Scripture"

A)Bible scholars have been sharply divided as to where he was coming from


B) JEROME, one of the early Church fathers, said that he was a messenger from Satan

1) Augustine, another of the Church fathers,  answered back that he was a great prophet from God –


C) WHO was this man? - What was his thing? - Where is he today?

1) Is he in heaven or in hell?


D) Why are 3 chapters of Scripture devoted to such a mysterious man?


Consider this:  It only took the Lord Ten words to explain the creation of the universe

A)In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth


B) Yet the Lord spends 3 chapters in dealing with the life of a man by the name of BALAAM

1) His name means destroyer of the people-


C) Let's look at what the Word of God says about this man

    RD CHAPTER 22   VERSES 1-6


Now we are going to see in our Study Wed. that the Children of Israel are really close to the entering the Promise Land – 5 chapters 38yrs

A)We will discuss why on Wed. – and we will notice how the Lord was giving them Victories over their enemies


B) Result Heading toward Moab & Balak, the king of Moab was terrified

C) So king Balak, whose name means waster , knew that he would   have to WASTE the people of God or he would be wasted

1) The problem was: How would he do it?


D) See He knew that they were a people many in number

1) And He knew that God was with these people- So he sent a message to a mysterious prophet, a Midianite named Balaam


Apparently Balaam was a well-known “diviner,”  with a reputation for effectively cursing nations. [A Prophet for Hire] 

A)But How did this Midianite come into a knowledge of the true and living God?


B) How did he come to understand the things of God?- We do NOT know

1) But we will see here that He was a man used by God VERSES 7-9


The first thing God says to Balaam is in the form of a question, “Who are these men with you?”

A)Now why did God question who they were ? God knew they are messengers from Balak, the king of Moab


B) See God is NOT requesting information FROM Balaam

1) BUT - He is requesting COMMUNICATION WITH Balaam


C) This is worth pointing out- Because there are people who wonder WHY they should even pray

1) "God already knows my problem... my situation" -"Why should I have to talk to Him about it?"


D) LISTEN - The purpose of prayer is NOT to give God information

1) It is to develop COMMUNICATION


Even beyond that, God asks the question for the sake of EVALUATION

A)"Who are these guys Balaam?" - "Think it through Balaam – who it is here that you are dealing w/

B) As parents, we do the same thing all the time. When we catch our children doing something wrong, we may ask,

1)   “Just what do you think you are doing?”


C) We know the answer, we can see what they are doing  but we want to see how forthright they are with their answer.

1)   Are they going to start making excuses / are they going to lie


D) So it was for the sake of Evaluation that God asked this question


Inviting them to stay the night was the first of a sequence of mistakes Balaam made with regard to Balak and his requests.

A)He shouldn’t have given them the time of day


B) These were men who represented nations and governments that were opposed to the nation Israel.

1)    These were men who were seeking to persuade Balaam to curse the very people God had blessed.


C) Balaam here is flirting w/ the enemies of God !!! VERSES 10-13


So God forbids Balaam to go with these dignitaries & to meet w/ Balak. A)God also forbade Balaam to curse the Israelites, informing him  that this was a people whom He had blessed


B) But here is what is interesting – when Balaam goes back to the men he does not tell them the whole story.

1)   He does not tell them that God forbade him to do what they were attempting to hire him to do;


C) He tells them rather that God refused to give him permission to go with them.


D) What Balaam does here is he leaves the door open so to speak – gives them the opportunity to come back – make a better offer

We can do that as well when faced w/ temptation or opportunity to compromise

A)You get invited to go some place or to do something that you have no business being a part of as a Christian –


B) But instead of saying – I am not interested – You say – well I can’t this time – but maybe next time

1)    You just left the door open for that person to come back again at a latter time –


C) You are a married man or woman -Your at work / at the office you start getting some signals from someone of the opposite sex – works there

1)   Or is a client that comes in they are being flirtatious – but instead of turning a cold shoulder – instead of getting down to business


D) You kind of revel in the attention- You flirt back a little – what are you doing – Leaving the door open to a major compromise 


E) Singles w/ a Non Christian – invites out on a date –Instead of saying  I’m Not interested – You say I am busy that night 

1) Message: I might be interested in going out another night – Playing w/ fire


F) THAT is what Balaam does here he leaves the door open for sin by not being forthright w/ these men that Balak sent !!   {Rd v.15


15 Then Balak again sent princes, more numerous and more honorable than they. { Sends in the Heavy weights – More Princes more important

A)Balak is not the kind of guy who takes no for an answer { probably used to getting his way { So he is persistent


B) The devil is the same way – In seeking to tempt us he doesn’t give up easy – if he doesn’t get thru one way – he will try another way

1) He is used to getting his way Often times he sends stronger troops the 2nd time around that are stronger than the first { Rd v. 16-18

Watch out Balaam! Balaam is planting a suggestion in the minds of these Men /  God had already said NO But he says: v.18

A)Even If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold,

    HINT-HINT-HINT  But even IF he did this, I really couldn't do it


B) Now Instead of sending them on their way, watch what he does v.19

19 Now therefore, please, you also stay here tonight, that I may know what more the LORD will say to me."


C) Essentially what Balaam says is I'll go back to God and see if something can be worked out         V. 20

And God came to Balaam at night and said to him, "If the men come to call you, rise and go with them; but only the word which I speak to you--that you shall do


Now Is God changing His mind? No! / But this is an example of what we would call the permissive will of God !!

A)It was God's PERFECT will that Balaam NOT associate with the   enemies of the True and Living God


B) But Balaam came back and kept on begging { God said ok – Go!!!


C) As parents we can relate to this - We have a PERFECT will for our kids, but they keep coming back and begging:

1) "Please, dad, please"....... O.K. – Go / Ok stay up until 2 in the morning -


D) They insist that they know best and we let them go knowing that they will learn the hard way { Same is true of the Lord

1)God will not control us by force – He will not demand HIS way – He isn’t looking for Slaves / He wants a relationship w/ us { Willing servants


E) If we insist upon going our own way, then God takes his hands off of us and he lets us go. { Prodigal Son – Dad said ok go

1) There is a passage in Psalm 106 in which David says with reference to Israel, God gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul."


Listen The PERFECT will of God ALWAYS leads to PEACE


A)You can INSIST that you get your way But when you get it, you WON'T be satisfied


B) Like the Prodigal son – famine will strike – your soul will starve – you will end up in a pig pen regretting that you ever Left

1)   Result of Permissive will of God – all things are lawful the Lord says –


C) Sure You can watch that movie/ you can go to that place  but notice how spiritually unfulfilled you are after wards

1)   Yes you can listen to that Music instead of Christian – But there is going to be a leanness to your Soul


D) That is what God is doing w/ Balaam here – You can go but there are going to be parameters here – the end of v.20 is key

1) You will say only what I tell you to say


E) But that is clearly not what Balaam has in mind – he knows if he is going to get his paycheck he needs to curse Israel

1) Which explains what happens in the following verses Rd 21 and 22:           


NOTE: The Angel of the Lord stood in the way as an         adversary against him

A)The angel of the Lord  is believed to theophany

A pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus


B) When the Lord knows that we are headed in a direction of Rebellion / He will at times stand before us an adversary to keep us from going that way 1) Because HE loves us He will do everything he can to reach us and to get us to turn around and go back to the place of obedience.


C) He will put roadblocks in our way. And this is what he is doing with Balaam. { Classic story v.23- 25

What a scene this must have been – Humorous / Yet Bazaar to the Princes of Moab / Beating / Yelling /

A)Balaam is supposed to be this Powerful Prophet/who is able to destroy a nation w/ the words of his mouth/ Yet he can’t even control his donkey


Rd v.26-34


B) What happens to Balaam here reminds me of the way the HS works in our lives at times when we are Knowingly heading into sin

1)   I am sure that most of us have experienced times when the Lord has steered us clear of disastrous situations


C) Like the Donkey ran into the field/ the Lord has diverted our Path from sin – Car problems – we missed the opportunity { Traffic

1)   You suddenly got sick – at the time you thought it was a huge inconvenience but now you Know that it was the grace of the Lord


There are times if we fail to pay attention- to the voice of the spirit when the Lord will Chasten us

A)like the donkey crushed Balaam’s foot up against the wall The Lord  will allow our foot to be crushed so that our walk might be saved


B) He cares about you that much – He will allow you to be Pressed in order to wake you up will Chasten us


C) And if you Ignore HIS chastening there will come a time when HE is going to lie down in the road so to speak & say ––

1) Go ahead -I will be waiting for you if you ever decide to come back -


D) He will do whatever is necessary to keep  us on track- He will put people in your path – who you would consider Donkeys to speak truth –

1)   What I mean by donkey is it’s UNEXPECTED VOICE  


2)   He sends the LAST PERSON you would ever expect to speak to you in that way/  In hopes that you would listen

Note v.34 Balaam says – I did not know that you stood in the way against me / Come on Balaam

A)The Lord has already said: "Do NOT go"


B) But you insisted and NOW you say: "If it really bothers You Lord,         I'll turn back – Get real!!!!


C) Also note the end of v.32 The Lord says I am standing against you because your way is perverse

1) Why was Balaam’s way perverse ? Because He had purposed in his heart to do whatever it takes to get that reward


D) Well v.35 God says Go – But say only what I tell you to!!! I will take this situation and use it for good


Now In VERSES 36- Chapter 24:24 Balaam pronounces 3 blessings upon the people of God & a Prophecy concerning their coming Messiah

A)We will look at these in detail on Wed. night – but note today after each of them Balak is enraged that Balaam did NOT curse them


B) 3 separate times Balak tries to get Balaam to curse them – 3 times blessing – Bonus Prophecy –


C) Ch.24 ends w/ Balaam going on his way – having failed at what he was hired to do – No Fee paid –


Now what is interesting about this guy Balaam & his story is it is referred to in 3 different places in the NT

A)These three lessons are very important to us


B) Peter says: Watch out for the way of Balaam (2Pet. 2:15)

1) Jesus said: Watch out for the doctrine of Balaam  (Rev.2:14)   

3)   Jude says: Watch out for the error of balaam  (Jude v.11)


C) Briefly consider each before we go !!!!

In 2 Peter 2 is dealing with the subject of FALSE PROPHETS

A)In describing these men Peter writes

2Pet. 2:15 Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Besor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;


B) The way of Balaam  was to Pursuing  personal pleasure & GREED rather than Personal godliness


C) Pursuing Personal happiness at all cost instead of personal Holiness at all cost

1)   failing to realize that you will never be as happy & fulfilled as you are in the Lord


D) Balaam’s attitude was I will do whatever it takes to get the gold

Failing to realize that earthly riches & Pleasure mean nothing in eternity

1)   Story Not rich toward God


E) What Profit gain the whole world & Lose your soul


1Tim. 6:6   But godliness with contentment is great gain.

A) But There are those today who twist that verse to say that godliness with great gain  is contentment


B) You subtly  begin to shift focus and priorities for the sake of money

"Boy, I know that I'll have to miss Bible study but I'll sure make a lot more money"


1Tim. 6:7-10  

7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

The way of balaam   was Pursuing Gain Greed / Pleasure at all cost

2ndly in Rev 2 Jesus warned against the Doctrine of Balaam

A) In speaking to the church at Pergamos Jesus said


Rev 2:14-15

14 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.


B) WHEN did Balaam teach that to Balak - NUMBERS 25:1-5/ Ch.31:16


C) I can’t curse them but I can get them to curse themselves

1) Invite them for dinner & have your beautiful young women seduce the men into sexual immorality & Idolatry


D) Balak also liked the idea the Plan was set into motion/  Following Balaam’s counsel, the Moabite women invited the Israelites to dinner.

1)   They engaged in Sexual immorality – idol worship – result God sent a plague that killed 24,000 – in one day


E) This is what Jesus referred to as the Doctrine of Balaam


So What is the doctrine of Balaam ? The doctrine of Balaam  is mixture with the world

A)Mixing it up with the Moabites - Getting involved with their practices and lifestyles


B) Throughout the Old Testament the Lord demonstrates His hatred of MIXTURE

1) The ox and the donkey shall not plow together / There shall not be linen and wool mixed together/   Diverse seeds shall not be planted together


C) All of this saying that God does NOT want mixture-  He wants PURITY

      Paul picks up this same theme2 Cor 6:14

14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?


D) This does NOT mean just marriage - It means LIFESTYLE



A)It is being HOT for the Lord on Sunday, but COLD on Saturday night


B) It is being HOT for the Lord on Wednesday night, but COLD                             at work on Friday{ On the Fence – MUGWUMP


C) When you MIX hot and cold together what do you get? LUKE WARM

Rev.3 Wish hot or cold Luke warm – Vomit

1) God is not into Mixture – He is into Purity                                       



Lastly there is the Error of Balaam -

A)The epistle of JUDE addresses heresy and false teachers too


Jude 11 Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.


B) The false teachers were greedy for material gain and, like Balaam, would do anything for money.

1)   The “error of Balaam” is thinking that they can get away with this kind of rebellion.


C) Balaam is mentioned along w/ Cain & Korah as men who were punished by God for their Rebellion

1) IN Joshua 13 we are told Balaam’s wealth was short lived he was killed w/ the sword


D) Balaam prostituted his gifts and sought to destroy God’s people. He ends up being DESTROYED

Perhaps you are here today finding you can relate to Balaam – You have played the Prodigal – God let you go to pursue Pleasure

A)You have had some fun times – but – you have also found – there is a leanness in your soul – Emptiness there


B) IN the story of the Prodigal son it takes a famine before he comes back to his senses – what about you ?


C) Maybe like Balaam you have found yourself pursuing personal gain & Pleasure rather than pursuing God

1)   You have run thru a few of God’s road blocks along the way – to your rebellion – Repent –


Doctrine of Balaam – Mixture – Compromise

A)Business /

B) Relationship


Listen don’t make the error of Balaam continuing in your sin & rebellion thinking – God is going to let you into Heaven