Balaam And How Prophets Fail

Balaam And How Prophets FailBalaam was a true prophet that went bad and failed. Not every prophet makes it. Power, money, prestige, honor, promotions, and enticements are demonic assignments designed to pull on common ground in the heart. Prophetic ministers must avoid theses demonic assignments used to corrupt God's true prophets.

The story of Balaam is a great lesson for every emerging prophet. He started off right in his ministry, but something went wrong. The enemy introduced a barrage of demonic enticements against him targeting the hidden idolatry deep within the recesses of his heart. The assignments worked. Balaam didn't make it and lost his ministry and his life. This could happen to you too.

Balaam was a true prophet that erred because of the idolatry in his own heart. This is how it happened. The people of Moab were the children and the offspring of Lot and his daughter. They were an incestuous tribe. The Israelites terrified King Balak, and he was overcome with dread when he heard they were near. Acting out of fear he sent messengers to God's prophet, Balaam, who lived in Pethor, 320 miles north of Moabite country near Haran. Abraham also lived in Haran, and you recall that Abraham left that heathen land later to become the man that God called His friend.

“Come now therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people; for they are too mighty for me: peradventure I shall prevail, that we may smite them, and that I may drive them out of the land: for I know that he whom thou blessest is blessed, and he whom thou cursest is cursed. And the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the rewards of divination in their hand, and they came to Balaam, and spoke to him the words of Balak.” (Numbers 22:6-7)

The elders of Moab tempted Balaam with rewards, money for divination and money for curses. They were there to buy the prophet's prophetic services. Was Balaam's ministry known to be for sale? What about yours? “Never,” you say. Are you sure? Is there anything for the devil to work with buried deep within you? If there is he will find it.

“And he (Balaam) said to them, Lodge here this night, and I will bring you word again, as the Lord shall speak to me: and the princes of Moab abode with Balaam.” (Numbers 22:8)

Balaam asked these elders to spend the night that he might bring word as the Lord may speak. The word “Lord” here means Jehovah. If you have any wonder about whom this prophet served, he was inquiring of Jehovah God. This would confirm that Balaam was a true prophet of God. “And God came to Balaam, and said, What men are these with thee?” (Numbers 22:9) Do you think God knew who these men were? The answer is obvious of course. So then, God must have had a reason for asking Balaam who these men were. Let's read on.

“And Balaam said to God, Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, hath sent to me, saying, Behold, there is a people come out of Egypt, which covereth the face of the earth: come now, curse me them; peradventure I shall be able to overcome them and drive them out. And God said to Balaam, Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed.” (Numbers 22:10-12)

Before we can go any further, we must make something clear. Did God say that Balaam could go with them? The answer is absolutely not. God said that Balaam could not go with them nor curse the people He had blessed. We need to make sure that we are clear on this point because later God is going to let Balaam go and we want to learn why.

“And Balaam rose up in the morning, and said to the princes of Balak, Get you into your land: for the Lord refuseth to give me leave to go with you.” (Numbers 22:13)

The next morning Balaam told the princes of Balak to go back home because Jehovah refused to allow him to go with them. Isn't it interesting that Balaam did not tell the Moabites the rest of what God told him? He failed to mention the blessing on these people and to curse them would not be possible.

“And the princes of Moab rose up, and they went to Balak, and said, Balaam refuseth to come with us.” (Numbers 22:14)

So the princes of Moab went back and told King Balak that Balaam the prophet refused to come with them. These princes did not tell the king the whole story either. They should have told the King that Jehovah God would not allow the prophet Balaam to come. These communications got progressively worse by leaving bits of the Word of the Lord out of the discussions. King Balak didn't know what was going on. He couldn't understand why the prophet wouldn't come. He thought that perhaps he hadn't offered him enough money. Now if the princes of Balak would have come back with the Word of the Lord saying, “Thou shalt not go. You can't curse blessed people,” then perhaps King Balak would have turned from his wicked ways.


HIGH-LEVEL ENTICEMENTS

Balak was persistent. He thought Balaam was just holding out for more money. King Balak was ready to negotiate. Scripture says,

“And Balak sent yet again princes, more, and more honorable than they. And they came to Balaam, and said to him, Thus saith Balak the son of Zippor, Let nothing, I pray thee, hinder thee from coming to me: For I will promote thee to very great honor, and I will do whatsoever thou sayest to me: come therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people (Numbers 22:15-17).

“For I will promote thee.” Can you see the demonic p-u-l-l of these assignments against this prophet of God? The king's most honorable representatives (high-level demonic ambassadors) used the lust for power, honor, money, prestige, enticements with smooth, flattering sayings to entice Balaam. These are all high-level demonic enticements designed to pull on any common ground that might be in the heart of God's prophet. You will face the same assignments. Your enemy is a master in the art of seduction. Before you can be deceived, he has to flatter you first. Remember your prophetic ministry comes from Christ. No man, demon or angel can promote you. Never forget that.

“And Balaam answered and said to the servants of Balak, If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more.” (Numbers 22:18)

Doesn't this sound honorable coming from the prophet Balaam? This is a good answer, yet he should also have reminded the delegation what the Lord said to him the first time. He should have said, “I don't know why you're wasting your time. God said that He would not let me curse a blessed people.” Let's read what the prophet did. "Now, therefore, I pray you, tarry ye also here this night, that I may know what the Lord will say to me more.” (Numbers 22:19)

This was Balaam's second mistake. God had already spoken to him saying, “Thou shalt not go with them; you shall not curse the people, for they are blessed.” Balaam spoke to God about it again.

“And God came to Balaam at night, and said to him, If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them; but yet the word which I shall say to thee, that shalt thou do.” (Numbers 22:20)

Did God change His mind? Why would God tell Balaam not to go and then tell him to go? Was God answering Balaam according to the idolatry in his heart? Is it dangerous to keep pressing God in prayer after he has already spoken? Were these demonic lures still seeking common ground in Balaam's heart? Why did God change his mind? Let's look for the answer in the prophetic life of Ezekiel. “Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart and put the stumbling block of their iniquity before their face: should I be inquired of at all by them?” (Ezekiel 14:3) What does it mean to put the “stumbling block of their iniquity before their faces?”

Like we have already discussed, stumbling blocks are idols in a person's life that are more important to them than God. These men that approached Ezekiel were asking God to bless their idols. Balaam was such a man. He had it in his heart to go. He continued to press God for permission even after God told him not to go. Balaam's ministry could be bought. The demonic assignment was working. The hook was set. The prey captured. Balaam was crossing the threshold. This is a warning to you. Don't keep asking God to allow you to do something when He has already said no. Don't forget that God is watching you, trying the reigns of your heart and proving your faithfulness.

BLESS MY IDOLS

Idols are dangerous and deadly. God opposes anything that separates him from his children. Idols are anything that separates you from God. If God asked you to do something for him, but there was always something else that you had to do first, then that could be idolatry. Whatever it is that consistently pulls you away from the Father is idolatry. The real insult to God is when one asks God to bless their stumbling blocks of idolatry.

Modern man may not bow down to wooden idols, yet there are many other idols. Idolatry is anything that pulls you away from God. Idols might be a man, woman, job, house, car, children, money, television, sports, hobbies, animals or even your ministry. Whatever it is that separates your heart from an intimate relationship with Jesus, is idolatry. Idols can represent lust in your heart the enemy can use to pull on you, like idols of self-will. Some say “God blesses the work of your hands,” but if the work of your hands pulls you away from God, it is not blessings from God.

The demonic enticements against Balaam were designed to find any idols in his heart the enemy could use to separate him from God. Prophets must guard themselves against these same demonic assignments.

“Therefore speak to them, and say to them, Thus saith the Lord God; Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I the Lord will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols.” (Ezekiel 14:4)

There are many people asking God to bless their idolatry even after God has already said no. Because of their persistence, there is a danger that God will answer them according to the multitudes of their idolatry. In other words, it may appear that God is changing his mind by telling them only what they want to hear.

BALAAM’S IDOLATRY

Let's look again at what the prophet Balaam did. Remember God clearly said, “Thou shalt not go,” then he told Balaam to go.

“And God came to Balaam at night, and said to him, If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them; but yet the word which I shall say to thee, that shalt thou do.” (Numbers 22:20)

God looks at your heart to see what is in there (Psalm 7:9). Balaam was ready and eager to go with the Moabites. God had already spoken to Balaam saying that he could not go. Did God change his mind? Not really, but God tested the prophet to see what was in his heart. With God's permission, Balaam saddled up his donkey and set out for Moab country. Scripture says, “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.” (Numbers 22:22) God was angry with Balaam.

Some ask, “But God, you said that he could go.” True, but that did not mean that Balaam was supposed to go. Can you see this? God had answered Balaam according to the idolatry in his heart because Balaam had continued to press God in prayer.

God may do that to us too. God might say, "Well, if you want to do that, even after I have already said no, the go ahead." You had better watch out though. You could be entering a test. Some people ask, “Where is that scripture that says that God will give you the desires of your heart?” I tell them, “Right here!” (Ezekiel 14:4). God will give you the desires of your heart to prove and to test you, but what if the wants of your heart are not right? It is always important that we examine our motives.

BALAAM'S HEART

God was angry with the prophet Balaam “because he went.” Let's read what happened to Balaam on the way to the Moabite territory.

“And the ass saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field: and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her into the way. But the angel of the Lord stood in a path of the vineyards, a wall being on this side, and a wall on that side. And when the ass saw the angel of the Lord, she thrust herself unto the wall and crushed Balaam's foot against the wall: and he smote her again. And the angel of the Lord went further and stood in a narrow place, there was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left. And when the ass saw the angel of the Lord, she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam's anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff.” (Numbers 22:23-27)

Balaam's anger was kindled because he was being delayed and he struck his donkey. Notice the anger in the prophet's heart? Nothing was going to get in Balaam's way. Nothing was going to stop him from his pursuit, not even a faithful donkey. Idolatry is an evil thing.

“And the Lord opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times? And Balaam said unto the ass because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now, would I kill thee.” (Numbers 22:28-29)

The way Balaam responded to his animal revealed deep-seated anger in his life. He was full of murder and self-will. A murderous, self-will spirit was in the heart of this prophet. Nothing would keep him from the idolatry in his heart. He was even ready to kill his faithful donkey. Anger and murder rose up in his heart to defend his idolatry. God was testing Balaam's heart to see what was in it and he was failing miserably. God was angry with Balaam because He told him not to go and yet he went anyway. Why did Balaam want to go? He wanted to go because he had been enticed by the rewards for divination. Demonic assignments had found common ground in Balaam's heart.

“And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? Was I ever wont to do so unto thee? And he said, nay. Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face. And the angel of the Lord said unto him, Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? Behold, I went out to withstand thee because thy way is perverse before me:” (Numbers 22:30-32)

The word “perverse” means to deviate from what is considered right. The angel was saying, “I know that I told you that you could go, but your behavior is contrary, it's obstinate. You‟re not walking according to my ways. You have taken the wrong course.” Balaam's idolatry was being exposed. He was unreasonably determined to have his way. To have one's own way is the idolatry of self-will. Balaam the prophet wanted the “rewards of divination.” He wanted all that King Balak had offered:

  • Fame
  • Money
  • Honor
  • Power
  • Prestige
  • Promotion


What was in Balaam's heart that he would murder his donkey? It was idolatry, and God was exposing it. Balaam was a true prophet of God who was deceived and enticed by witchcraft. He was pulled away from the Word of God by the common ground of idolatry and self-will that was in his own heart. All the divination and enticements by King Balak were released at him, and he took them into the common ground of his heart. Balaam thought, “I can be somebody. All I have to do is curse these people. After all, what's the big deal? A few little prophetic curses and I can pick up my money. This is my big chance for promotion.”

(c) Jonas Clark
www.jonasclark.com

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