Numbers 24:17 NIV
“I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel. He will crush the foreheads of Moab, the skulls of all the people of Sheth.
Baalam was a strange mix of characters. It seems he heard the voice of God and spoke as a prophet. He also spoke with the enemy, Satan, and sought wisdom from both camps. He played along with God and the powers of hell.. God seems to go along with Baalam and uses his foolishness to speak to the nations that hated God’s people. Baalam wants the things of this life and also the spiritual blessings that go with being God’s child.
The kings of the Moabites and other nations, pursue Baalam to try to get the curse of God put upon God’s people, but Baalam seems reluctant. When the leaders come to Baalam, he tells them he will not curse the Israelites, yet sets out ahead of them to check out the situation. He says one thing with his lips, but his heart wants selfish gain. He is seeking a chink in God’s holiness armour, to see if there is wriggle room for a manoeuvre.
Even as he goes to spy out the possibilities (never mind what God has said..!) God warns him. The donkey Baalam is riding on, speaks to him and tries to crush his leg against the wall. Baalam is so insensible to the real will of God, he doesn’t even realise. The Angel of the Lord appears to Baalam. The donkey has seen the Angel, though Baalam has not. Baalam appears repentant, but as soon as he is back with the worldly Balak, Baalam is offering worldly sacrifices to God again.
Baalam wants earthly rewards for his “work” but is also afraid to speak against God or His people. He strings along the king of Moab, Balak, and tries to play off two camps against each other. Balak is seeking the help of Baalam to curse the Israelites, as he is afraid of their power and knows it is something to do with the God of all things. Balak thinks if he curses the Israelites then God will turn against them and he will have the upper hand. He has no understanding of the things of God, or the unbreakable link between God and His people.
So Balak bribes and cajoles Baalam and keeps tempting him along by offering wealth, prosperity and status. Baalam wants these things, so he goes along with it. He is playing with fire.
Baalam stands above the people of God and pronounces blessings… not what Balak was wanting.. Baalam knows God, but not personally. He sees God far away and hears dimly. He is a false prophet. And yet he sees the coming Saviour of the world. Baalam is typical of so many people who name Christ silently but there is no heat or light in their words. Their life doesn’t match up. It is a pitiful sight…
In their quest to wipe out the people of God, Moab resorts to infiltration of the Israelite camp. The Israelites are tempted by the Moabite women and immorality enters the camp of God. God sends plague. Aaron’s son, Phineas, takes spear and kills the open sin in the camp, and rescues the people from the Plague.
His stance against evil and especially in the camp of God’s people is highly commended in God’s sight.
Numbers 25:11-13 NIV
“Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites. Since he was as zealous for my honor among them as I am, I did not put an end to them in my zeal. Therefore tell him I am making my covenant of peace with him. He and his descendants will have a covenant of a lasting priesthood, because he was zealous for the honor of his God and made atonement for the Israelites.”
We see here that there is great spiritual blessings and honour given by God to all who worship Him in spirit and truth.
Again, Baalam is shown up for what he is and is not. The bravery of Phinehas shines our against the pathetic posturing of false Baalam, and his shilly-shallying with God and Satan.
Baalam meets with a violent end. He leaves Balak, to return home, but never made it there. He was killed in battle, caught between opposing sides-an ironic end to a foolish false prophet who believed his own lies…