Summary: Sometimes God will permit us to do things that are detrimental to us. Spiritual discernment is a must in our relationship with God.


TEXT: Numbers 22:20-22

Numbers 22:20 22 -- “And God came unto Balaam at night, and said unto him, If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them; but yet the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do.” “And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab.” “And God’s anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him.”


-Charles Dickens introduces the book, A Tale of Two Cities, in this manner: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

-That seems to be the summary of the life of Balaam. He was the best of prophets and he was the worst of the prophets. In fact, were we able to fast forward him into our generation, he would probably be one of our most sought after preachers. He had a silver tongue and was full of charisma.

-But he was a devil in a prophet’s mantle. Ambrose and Augustine both mention him as being a prophet but along with that they mark him as a soothsayer and a magician.

-When you read the summary of the prayers, prophecies, and exhortations that he would speak in the book of Numbers you will find that he was a very gifted man.

-Consider this: “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his.” Strong words, full of meaning, pregnant with purpose, but devoid of something lasting.

-Consider his description of the character of God: “God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent. Hath He said, and shall He not do it?” Insight issues from those phrases. Revelation with a point but still lacking something.

-Balaam, the man who was gifted as the prophet was an imposter who was full of deceit. However, the eloquence with which Balaam preached was enough to fool both Moses and all the children of Israel.

-His problem was that he placed all of his tears into his voice and not his soul. He urged repentance and reformation in his powerful appeals but it was absent from his own life.

-Think of Balaam in his all night prayer meeting, on his knees, begging for the direction and opportunity of God but all of his anxious moments, his perplexing problems, his desperation in his own prayer was marred by that terrible flaw of self-deceit. He heard as he wanted to hear from God. His hearing was dimmed and his own understanding was darkened. He became consumed with what time held for him instead of what eternity promised.

-Despite all of this, this man was a prophet who saw far beyond those who lived with him in that day, for he would prophetically exclaim, “A star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel.” He was speaking of a Messiah who was on the distant horizon of the future.

-Then the simple epitaph comes from Numbers 31:8, “Balaam also the son of Beor they slew with the sword.” Slain by his own people, the Israelites. For when they came to destroy the kings of Midian, Balaam was in their midst.

-So we must take a trip to Moab’s battlefield. There we see heaps, rows, piles, and avenues of the dead. Vultures and jackals have now shredded the carcases at their own hideous feast.

-Who is the man lying dead in the pyramid of the fallen Midianites? His clothes betray him as a prophet. Sightless eyes now gaze at the heavens. Balaam, can it be? How did you get here? Why are you on the wrong side of the Jordan? How did you fall among the enemy?

-Balaam, this best and worst prophet, would tell you right now, “God let me go, but God didn’t go with me. I was permitted but I wasn’t blessed in my going.”

-Permitted But Not Blessed. . . . . . .


-When the children of Israel had reached the borders of Moab and Midian, the kings of those countries feared that they would be overthrown by this mass of Israelites. They had witnessed what had happened to Og of Bashan and Sihn, the king of the Amorites. So they found them a preacher who was quite well known.

-Balaam’s reputation was of such that people knew that whoever he blessed was blessed and by the same token, those whom he cursed was cursed.

-Not much has changed since Balaam’s days. When we have difficulties, sometimes we think it might be easier to push them off on someone else, instead of facing them down ourselves. So the kings shoveled their problem on to Balaam.

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