ENOCH – The Error of Balaam (Lesson 3)

By Kathy L McFarland

The second degree of errors done by those who followed after Cain was done by greedily running after the error Balaam for reward. The generations to follow Cain were not satisfied with their status in the world; they looked for reward, and chased after false things to replace the Grace of the LORD God that they had rejected and turned into lewdness.

Jude 1:11

“Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.” (Jude 1:11)

Balaam of Beor was a soothsayer who took advantage of God‘s people and counseled them to sin against the Lord. Unfortunately, many were so driven by lust toward receiving reward that they followed after the error of Balaam without restraint. Read your Bibles of the account of Balaam recorded in Numbers 22-24, and prepare to deeply study this error that tricked some people that had previously walked with God.

Don’t be confused at the “positive” account of Balaam that seems first to portray Balaam as a saint carrying out the perfect will of the LORD God. As you read the actions of Balaam, you will soon recognize him to not only oppose Israel, but also as one to seek out money rather than serve the Will of God. The continual mention of money within these accounts suggests that Balaam used “indifference” to encourage that his palms were greased with fortunes to buy his efforts toward God.

You will soon recognize that the LORD God has control over this situation, even as Balaam tries to control Him. It is this conflict that develops the error of Balaam to its full intensity, and tempts men to follow after his ways.

The seeking of riches to perform works of God that He has not directed is a common tactic of many even today as televangelists and leaders of big churches and hierarchy of religious institutions follow after the Error of Balaam.

Balak, the son of Zippor, was King of Moab. He had watched as the Israelites had conquered the Amorites. He saw that God had delivered the Amorites into the hands of Moses and God’s people, and saw King Sihon and his sons killed for possession of their land through the offensive attack of the Israelites. King Balak was scared that the Moabites would be destroyed in the same manner as the Israelites advanced into their lands. He hatched a plan to prevent this invasion and massacre by hiring a “prophet” of the LORD God that was not attached to the Israelites from Egypt.

Numbers 22:1-6

“And the children of Israel set forward, and pitched in the plains of Moab on this side Jordan by Jericho. And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites. And Moab was sore afraid of the people, because they were many: and Moab was distressed because of the children of Israel. And Moab said unto the elders of Midian, Now shall this company lick up all that are round about us, as the ox licketh up the grass of the field. And Balak the son of Zippor was king of the Moabites at that time. He sent messengers therefore unto Balaam the son of Beor to Pethor, which is by the river of the land of the children of his people, to call him, saying, Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt: behold, they cover the face of the earth, and they abide over against me: 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 wot that he whom thou blessest is blessed, and he whom thou cursest is cursed.” (Numbers 22:1-6)

King Balak sent the elders of Moab and Midian to bring a reward of divination to Balaam, in exchange for his cursing of the Israelites through his God, to prevent them from overcoming the Moabites and their land. It is apparent that King Balak knew Balaam served the same God that the Israelites worshipped, and trusted that he was an important prophet to the powerful LORD God.

Numbers 22:7-8

“And the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the rewards of divination in their hand; and they came unto Balaam, and spake unto him the words of Balak. And he said unto them, Lodge here this night, and I will bring you word again, as the LORD shall speak unto me: and the princes of Moab abode with Balaam.” (Numbers 22:7)

And they were partially right! Balaam did indeed have the ear of the LORD God. The LORD God forbade him to go with the Moabite errors to curse the advancing Israelites, who were blessed by God.

“Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people for they are blessed.” (Numbers 22:12)

Balaam heeded the orders of the LORD God, and sent the Moabites back with his refusal to help them.

Reward was added upon more reward, and Balak sent a new delegation of more powerful princes to pay Balaam for his services. Balaam was promised to receive a promotion of great honor, and the King promised to do his bidding, if only he would curse the Israelites and bring the wrath of God upon them. Balaam told them that:

Numbers 22:18

“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)

So far, so good! Balaam was holding to his faithful stance toward the LORD God, and being a good prophet that was obeying his LORD God.

Just like he had done before, he instructed the delegation to stay the night, while he inquired of the Lord. The LORD God came to Balaam that night, and told him:

Numbers 22:20

“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.” (Numbers 22:20)

It was the next morning that the Error of Balaam was formed, when Balaam decided to disregard the instruction of God to wait for the men to call, and then give the Words that God speaks through him.

Instead, Balaam skewed the LORD God’s instructions to benefit him, and rose up, saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab; he was not called by the princes, nor did he possess the Words that the LORD God wanted him to speak. Like many pretend faithful today, Balaam manipulated the Words of God to His advantage. Certainly the Princes had called him before, and certainly God had given him Words before, so technically speaking, Balaam apparently convinced himself that he was right with God’s instructions.

The Lord God does not like His Word or Will to be manipulated! He was very angry with Balaam and He placed the angel of the LORD to stand against him and in the way of the ass ridden by Balaam and the two servants that accompanied him.

Numbers 22:21-27

“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. 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, where 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 22:21-27)

The ass saw the angel of the LORD standing in front of them, prohibiting their walk forward. Each time the ass bolted and refused to move past the angel of the LORD, Balaam beat him, hoping to stir him forward; he was unaware of the presence of the angel. At one point the ass thrust herself into the wall to prevent walking into the angel, causing Balaam’s foot to be crushed against the wall. It was a dramatic scene unfolding as the ass refused to move forward and Balaam continued to beat the animal into submission.

Then the LORD God did something to the ass that was so spectacular, defining and rare, that the message that He was given could not be mistaken. He made the ass speak! The ass spoke real words given to Him by the LORD God!

Numbers 22:28-30

“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. 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.” (Numbers 22:28-30)

Clearly, the LORD God could speak His Word through any beast or man He chose; it was certainly apparent that the ass was more obedient to Him, than the man Balaam who had risen in stature as a prophet of God. The LORD God opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in his way.

Numbers 22:31-34

“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: And the ass saw me, and turned from me these three times: unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive. And Balaam said unto the angel of the LORD, I have sinned; for I knew not that thou stoodest in the way against me: now therefore, if it displease thee, I will get me back again.” (Numbers 22:31-34)

Balaam realized with great repentance that he had sinned against the LORD God, and promised to obey Him once again. The angel of the LORD instructed him to go with the princes of Balak, but to only speak the words given to him by God to speak.

Numbers 22:35

“And the angel of the LORD said unto Balaam, Go with the men: but only the word that I shall speak unto thee, that thou shalt speak. So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.” (Numbers 22:35)

Balaam was spiritually blind and powerless against the LORD God. He could do nothing without God’s Words and Will; yet he stupidly thought he could. Numbers 23 and 24 show him preparing enchantments to tempt the LORD God to speak the words Balaam needed to speak to please Balak. He would build seven altars and burn seven sacrificed oxen and seven sacrificed rams three times; surely this would please the LORD God enough to allow Balaam his moment of prestige and power in front of the King! Yet, each time Balaam went to curse the Israelites, words of blessing were placed in his mouth by the LORD God, and great prophesy spoken concerning the happiness, protection and strength of God’s chosen people.

Numbers 24:4-9

“He hath said, which heard the words of God, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open: How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel! As the valleys are they spread forth, as gardens by the river’s side, as the trees of lign aloes which the LORD hath planted, and as cedar trees beside the waters. He shall pour the water out of his buckets, and his seed shall be in many waters, and his king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted. God brought him forth out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn: he shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with his arrows. He couched, he lay down as a lion, and as a great lion: who shall stir him up? Blessed is he that blesseth thee, and cursed is he that curseth thee.” (Numbers 24:4-9)

King Balak was furious! He had paid Balaam well, and given him great prestige in his kingdom, for the cursing of Israel. Yet, Balaam blessed, rather than cursed, Israel each time he opened his mouth. Balaam was frustrated beyond measure. He had done everything he could think of to trick the LORD God into cursing Israel, but God would not budge. Balak and Balaam separated company, and departed to their own places.

Although Balaam was unsuccessful in his attempts to manipulate the LORD God, he gained great success in bringing a death curse to a part of God’s people. Although he could not change God’s Words or Will, he was able to create an atmosphere of enchantment and manipulation toward false gods that would persuade many in the tribes of Israel to follow after these things that were against the LORD God. As the Israelites advanced into the Moabites lands, they began to create whoredom with the daughters of Moab. This led to the sacrifice and worship of the false gods of their land by many disobedient Israelites, and resulted in the LORD God anger and order to slay all who submitted to these wicked ways.

Numbers 25:1-5

“And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods. And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel. And the LORD said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the LORD against the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel. And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one his men that were joined unto Baalpeor.” (Numbers 25:1-5)

The wickedness that Balaam brought upon the Israelites and the resulting turning of many toward false gods was noted by Moses as he ordered all the Moabite women to be killed.

Numbers 31:16

“Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD God in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD.” (Numbers 31:16)

It was that realization by Moses, and by those who hear this account today, that exposes the heart of Balaam completely, and defines his actions against the LORD God perfectly. Here was a man that had elevated position and was able to speak to the LORD God, receive His Words, and speak them to other people. Yet, he was not satisfied. He desired the fortune and the prestige that the world could offer, and he sought after it continuously. He attempted to elevate himself above the LORD God, by attempting to trick and manipulate Him into doing Balak’s bidding through Balaam’s request.

When Balaam could not manipulate the LORD God, he went against Him, by counseling the women of Moab to entice the men of Israel to come to them with sexual enchantments. Balaam knew, as surely as the demons know today, that sexual lust is the perfect condition for enchantments to lead those of God astray. It was very successfully implemented, and as a result, many of the perverse Israelite men walked toward false gods because of the pleasure and reward they could receive.

That is the Error of Balaam. He thought he could control the LORD God through enchantment and manipulation. He desired riches, power, and prestige more than he cared about his obedient relationship with the LORD God. As a result, many of God’s people “ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward,” which became the second of three errors that developed to separate the people of God from Him, and part of the prophesy focus that Enoch spoke. (Jude 1:14)


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