The Story of Balaam

Text: Numbers 22:22-35 

I.         Background

            A.        As the children of Israel left their wanderings in the wilderness and move towards the promised land, they had to cross through the territories of a few countries.

                        1.         The leaders of these countries were nervous to have such a large mass of people (a few million) move through their land.

                        2.         The Amorites not only refused passage, they sent their warriors after the people.

                                    a.         They were soundly defeated by the Israelites and the Israelites took over their land.

                        3.         The king of Bashan also tried to stop the Israelites and was defeated

            B.        The Israelites were now on the borders of Moab.

                        1.         The king of Moab was terrified. They knew what happened to the other countries. They feared that they were next.

II.        The king, whose name was Balak, remembered there was a prophet in his land

            A.        Read Numbers 22:5-6

                        1.         Balaam had a good reputation. Those he cursed failed. Those he praised prospered.

                        2.         King Balak wanted a curse put on the people of Israel. He sent the standard fee for a diviner.

                        3.         God appeared to Balaam that night and told him that he was not to go with the men, nor could he curse the Israelites.

            B.        Balak sent princes of the country to plead that Balaam come. He also offered hints of rich reward.

                        1.         Balaam stated well that even for all of Balak’s wealth, he could only do as the Lord commands.

                        2.         However, he asks the men to say the night while he talked to God again.

                        3.         This time, God said he may go, but he must follow God’s instructions.

III.       However, Balaam was in mortal danger - Numbers 22:22-35

            A.        God was furious with Balaam for going.

            B.        The incident with the angel and the donkey reinforce God’s command to follow only His directions.

            C.        Eventually, Balaam tries four times to stand up and curse the Israelites.

                        1.         Each time, instead of a curse, God puts a blessing in Balaam’s mouth.

                        2.         He could not override God.

            D.        However, Balaam does give Balak a suggestion that turns God against Israel.

                        1.         Numbers 31:16 - Balaam told Moabites “if you can’t beat them join them.”

                        2.         They offered the Israelites sex, wine, and entertainment - Numbers 25:1-3

                        3.         For this Balaam eventually lost his life - Numbers 31:8

IV.      Why did God turn against Balaam?

            A.        First off, Balaam did not listen to God

                        1.         After God clearly stated he may not curse the Israelites, he went back anyway to ask again.

                        2.         God let him go, not because He changed his mind, but to prove His sovereignty.

            B.        Despite the direct command and the incident with the angel, Balaam could not take a hint - Deuteronomy 23:5

                        1.         Balaam tried four times to curse Israel and failed.

                        2.         God changed his attempts to blessings.

            C.        Balaam’s weakness was money - II Peter 2:15

                        1.         The reason Balaam kept trying was the money

                        2.         For money, Balaam was willing to oppose the God of heaven, who gave him his job in the first place!

V.        Application

            A.        Balaam’s story is interesting, but not as interesting as it would be if it means something to you personally.

            B.        Many of us believe in the providence of God

                        1.         God will make things work for those who love him

                        2.         We ask God for something and when it appears, we assume God answered our prayers.

            C.        God answered Balaam’s prayer, just as Balaam hoped during that second visit.

                        1.         But Balaam was sinning!

                        2.         Why, because Balaam didn’t ask according to God’s will. Balaam had chosen money over God. He was just looking for God to back him up.

                        3.         Balaam turned his back on God, so God gave him what he was looking for.

            D.        We can do the same thing!

                        1.         If we ask God for something that we know is wrong, God many just grant that prayer. Why? Because we have already chosen against God.

                        2.         II Thessalonians 2:9-12

                                    a.         Why is God deluding these people?

                                    b.         Because they did not believe the truth

                                    c.         Because they enjoyed doing what was wrong

                        3.         God’s providence only applies to those who seek to do God’s will

            E.        Ultimately, we could become like the Gentile society in Romans 1:24,26,28

                        1.         God gave the people over to the unclean acts that they were seeking after.

                        2.         He gave the people the things they desired, even though it was against His will.

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