“"The Way Of Balaam"”Categories: Bible, Character Study, Christian, Compromise, Daily Living, Expository Study, False Doctrine, Heaven, Hell, New Testament, Old Testament, Peter, Pride, Prophecy, Salvation
Peter warning against false teachers is a major theme in II Peter 2. After reminding the Christians that God knows how to punish false teachers while delivering the godly (v. 3-9), he focuses on the consequences of the false teacher’s work. It isn’t pretty. One thing we see is that false teachers’ actions are compared to Balaam. Peter says that these people are, “Cursed children 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; but was rebuked for his iniquity ...” (II Pet. 2:14-16). Balaam’s sinful actions are also referred to by Jude (Jude 11) and Jesus (Rev. 2:14).
Who was Balaam, and why should false teachers be compared to him? Balaam was a Gentile, and also a prophet. It’s apparent that God talked to him and told him what to say to the representatives of Balak (Num. 22:6-14). Perhaps God had talked to him on other occasions, but we’re sure He spoke to Balaam in this context. In fact, Balaam even spoke a Messianic prophecy (Num. 24:17-19)! Numbers 22-24 and chapter 31 record Balaam’s work and ultimate end in the greatest detail. Please spend some time reading Numbers for a deeper understanding of Balaam.
Balaam’s command from God was, “Don’t go with the elders of Moab and Midian to Balak’s house, and don’t curse Israel.” Throughout this event, Balaam was quick to say that he wouldn’t curse Israel even if he could receive Balak’s house “full of silver and gold” (Num. 22:18, 23:24-26, 24:11-13). At the same time, it is apparent that the “wages of unrighteousness” (II Pet. 2:16) had a strong appeal to him. Therefore, after refusing to go with the elders the first night, when they returned, and he talked to God again, he was ready to go with them the next morning (Num. 22:21) even though this wasn’t what God had allowed (v. 20).
Notice that Balaam tried to figure out a way “around” God’s word when he joined the elders who took him to Balak. He would do a similar thing when he told Balak how to harm the Israelites without actually pronouncing a curse on them (Num. 31:14-16; Num. 25; etc.).
What can we learn from this? One thing is that false teachers try to find ways “around” God’s word. Many are quick to agree with what the Bible says, but they try to maneuver themselves into a position where they can do what they want as well. This was Balaam. No, he would never blatantly curse God’s people, yet he found a way to cause them to be punished by God whereby 24,000 died in a plague. Did this not play into Balak’s plans? Men today do a similar thing when they twist God’s word to their own destruction (II Pet. 3:16). When we follow after false doctrines, then we will be punished (Ezek. 18:20). The false teacher will answer for his wrong, and so will we when we follow after him!
Peter says, do not end up as a “cursed” instead of a blessed child! Don’t walk in the way of Balaam, looking for “loopholes” or ways around what God has said. Accept what the Lord has said, believe it and obey it and tell it to others, and watch your blessings increase!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs