The false prophet Balaam is one of the more prominent villains in the Bible. His desire to curse Israel was thwarted time after time when God used him to bless Israel instead. His name became a byword to both Old and New Testament saints to warn us about the type of mindset we should avoid. Moses (Numbers 31), Joshua (Joshua 24), Peter (2 Peter 2), Jude (Jude 1), and John (Revelation 2) all spoke against him and his ungodliness. He was so overtaken by his greed that the dumb ass that he rode saved his life and rebuked him when he spoke by the power of God to Balaam. This false prophet’s doctrines were as follows:
1. Coveting rewards for unrighteous behavior: In Numbers 22, King Balak of Moab wanted to pay Balaam to curse Israel. Balaam knew that it was God’s purpose to bless Israel, but he kept stringing Balak along thinking that an opportunity would present itself for him to curse Israel so he could receive the riches Balak wanted to give him. The curse never was allowed to come from his mouth, so he thought up doctrines 2 through 4 below so he could get the payment he wanted.
Is this doctrine in Christendom today? When we have evangelists who claim their ministries will be strengthened if they divorce their Christian spouse, or when we have Christians suing other Christians in court to get material things from them, or when we have Christians going to casinos and riverboats while they attempt to make deals with God like giving part of the money to the church if they win big, then I would have to say this doctrine is very much alive.
2. Placing stumblingblocks in the life of the saints: Balaam knew that if he and Balak could find any kind of weakness in Israel, they could exploit that weakness to make Israel stumble. This may take place in today’s church when one person schemes against another because they despise them for some reason. That’s why we must proceed with caution when it comes to opening up to people since certain people may be looking for an opportunity to set a trap for you to make others reject you or question your integrity.
3. Eating things sacrificed to idols: Balaam gave counsel to Balak that he should socialize with the Israelites and as a result, Israel in Numbers 25 began to embrace Baal as god by the persuasion of the Moabites. In certain denominations of the modern church like the United Methodists, PCUSA (Presbyterians), Episcopalians, and ELCA (Lutherans) there are celebrations of Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, and Roman Catholic feasts in honor of their false gods or false doctrines.
4. Committing fornication: Balaam also told Balak to encourage the Moabites to seduce the Israelites into sexual relations with them which caused many in Israel to leave their spouse or betray their betrothals. Although there are many preachers who speak out against fornication, the majority have given up confronting fornicators about their sexual sins and have inadvertently given the impression that they really don’t have a problem with people having sex outside of marriage as long as they aren’t married. They are more tolerant of unmarried fornicators than they are of adulterers, but this is in reality hypocritical and only encourages all types of fornication.
Israel and the church of Pergamos held on to this doctrine and they were commanded to repent or to face God’s judgment. Should today’s churches do any less?
–posted by Harry A. Gaylord–