Balaam is a biblical name which has come to be synonymous with deception and false prophets. Balaamís name means "hardly a part of the congregation." As we take a look at this character, his name will become very apparent and highly significant in our journey towards discernment.
In the book of Revelation, Balaam is exposed by Jesus as a type of false teacher who brought false ideas into the church at Pergamos.
"But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality" (Revelation 2:14).
Jesus exposed this type of teaching as something which He obviously didnít appreciate in the Church. Balaam represents the results of allowing a false prophet to influence the Church.
There are two other places in the New Testament where Balaamís name is mentioned: both are references to false leadership within the Church.
"They (false teachers) have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousnessÖ" (2 Peter 2:15).
"Woe to them! For theyÖ have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profitÖ" (Jude 1:11).
False prophets are just like Balaam because they love the wages of unrighteousness. Now, at first, you may assume that this only refers to the love of money; but thereís a deeper meaning to this phrase, "For they have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profitÖ"
When you read the story of Balaam in Numbers chapters twenty-two through twenty-five, you will find that the "wages of unrighteousness" are actually called the "rewards of divination" or "diviners fee." In other words, Balaam was more interested in the rewards of divination than he was in the rewards of being a true prophet of God.
Balaam was a prophet who was hired by Balak, the evil king of the Moabites. "Balak" means "destroyer or spoiler" which, in this setting, is a parabolic picture of the Devil.
Hardly a Part of the Congregation
Since Balaamís name means "hardly a part of the congregation," it is a picture of someone who is independent and disconnected from the true Body of Christ. He represents someone who is interested in his own ministry. He is not down in the Valley of Moab camping with the rest of the children of Israel. He is off on his own prophetic campaign looking for gain and success. He loved the rewards of divination.
The story unfolds in Numbers chapter twenty-two as the Children of Israel pitch their tents on the plains of Moab. This worried the evil King Balak who immediately began to look for a way to defeat them, so the king hired Balaam to curse the Children of Israel and weaken them. He knew he couldnít fight them with natural weapons because the children of Israel were blessed by God, so the evil king turned to spiritual warfare.
The story continues as Balaam tries to do the work he was hired to do. He tries to curse the Children of Israel again and again, but he cannot succeed.
As we reach the end of the story we may even get the impression that Balaam disappeared having never fulfilled his goal. But later on, the Bible exposes Balaam as the false prophet who caused the downfall of Godís people. So, how did he do it? How did he succeed in weakening the Children of Israel if it appears as if he walked away before his job was done?
The fall of the Children of Israel in the Valley of Moab is not credited to his curses. The emphasis is repeatedly directed towards Balaamís teachings. This is why Jesus exposes carnal teachings within the Church as, "the doctrine of Balaam" because of the power of this kind of deception. (Rev. 2:14)
But if you remember the story, Balaam did not teach the children of Israel. So who did he teach?
A Dangerous Spiritual Weapon
He taught Balak. He revealed a vital, strategic plan of action that would guarantee the evil king Balakís success against the Children of Israel. Balaam gave him a spiritual key which would help destroy the people of God. By Balaamís teachings, he showed Balak (the Devil) how to cause the children of Israel to stumble and fall. The Bible clearly states that He "taught" Balak how to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel.
"The doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality" (Revelation 2:14).
Balak and Balaam could not curse these foreigners who camped in the valley of Moab because the Children of Israel had a covenant with Almighty God. He had promised them, "I will be your shield and those who curse you will be cursed. As long as you keep my covenant, those who come against you will be defeated."
King Balak had to find a way to bypass that covenant. The only way the children of Israel could be defeated was if they forsook their covenant with God to follow other gods. This was the wonderful secret weapon that the Devil discovered through Balaamís teachings.
He Doesnít Have to Lift a Finger
The same kind of strategy is being used against the Church today. The Devil canít curse us. His spiritual warfare wonít work against us. But he doesnít have to fight us because heís discovered something so powerful that it causes the Church to fall into deception and automatically activates a curse.
The Devil has learned how to put a stumbling block before Godís people. The Devil doesnít have to curse the Church. All he has to do is get us to worship a wrong concept of God. A god who does not resemble Jesus Christ ó a god who is quite similar to Baal or Asherah, the gods of the Moabites.
Baal and Asherah idolatry is a brilliant combination. Hand in hand, they are a powerful force.
Baal was the ultra-sovereign god of Heaven and Earth who was in complete control of all things. Depending on his mood, he could send either earthquakes or blessings. It was totally up to him. He was very hard to please and his priests enforced many strange religious requirements.
Working in covenant with Baal was Asherah. She was the goddess who promoted and approved of unbridled living. Her religion was a total commitment to satisfying the flesh. Physical or spiritual fornication were vital parts of her religious system.
In the book of Revelation, Jesus was speaking to the Christian church in Pergamos when He exposed Balaam as one who, "taught Balak to cast a stumbling-block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication." It is important to note that this message is spoken to a New Testament church.
Today, the stumbling block in the Church is still the same trick that Balak used in the Old Testament: a false concept of God is placed before the people of God and they fall for it. Itís an image of God which does not agree with the image of Christ. It is, essentially, the same as Baal worship.
Asherah, the female goddess, also makes her way into this New Testament setting. Fornication ó connected to the doctrine of Balaam ó represents the "instant gratification of the flesh outside of covenant relationship."
This kind of fornication isnít physical. It is spiritual unfaithfulness. It is breaking covenant with Jesus and turning to the gratification of the flesh ó in the guise of "revival."
The word, fornication, is being used here as a New Testament symbol. Esau was also mentioned in the book of Hebrews as a fornicator. "Lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright." (Hebrews 12:16) But if you recall the story of Esau there wasnít any women involved. So why is Esau called a fornicator? Because Esau forsook his covenant blessing for a bowl of soup. He sold his future for the instant gratification of his flesh. He satisfied his belly instead of keeping his long-term relationship with God.
A portion of the Church has also forsaken its long-term covenant relationship with Jesus Christ in exchange for a wrong concept of God. A Christ-like image of God has been replaced with a god who is more like Baal and Asherah. Baal is known as the god of this world who sovereignly does whatever he pleases to his worshippers. Asherah is the god of "instant gratification of the flesh." Both of these concepts work well together and both of these concepts are pushing the true image of God out of the Church.
These new concepts of God, these new winds of doctrine, and these fresh winds of revival are presented to the Church as alternative worship to a new image of God. These options are presented to us in order to draw us away from the truth. The problem is ó itís working. We are no longer covenant-keeping people. We donít even read it.
Weakened From Within
We would rather have the instantaneous, the mysterious, the exciting, and the unbridled. These are the fresh spiritual manifestations of lawlessness. We have forsaken the words, "take up your cross and follow me." We no longer crucify the flesh ó we caress it, entertain it, pamper it, satisfy it, and prophesy its wonderful attributes.
The Devil doesnít have to curse us. The curse is automatically activated when the Church stays in the flesh and forsakes the Word of God. The curse moves through the camp as the Devil watches from his mountain. He doesnít have to lift a finger. The Church is being weakened from within.
As the curse began to kill the children of Israel in Numbers chapter twenty five there was only one way to stop it.
"Now when Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, (a righteous leader) saw it (fornication) he rose from among the congregation and took a javelin in his hand; and he went after the man of Israel into the tent and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her body. So the plague was stopped among the children of Israel" (Numbers 25:7-8).
Thereís only one way to stop the curse from going through the Church. Kill the flesh, repent, and turn back to God.
You Cannot Fix the Flesh
The Devil canít do anything to the Christian who is free from the flesh and walking in the truth. We could have such victory if we would only nail the old man to the cross with Christ.
Instead, we seek revival centers where we can counsel it, heal it, feed it, and fix it. We were never meant to walk in the flesh. Itís time to crucify it. Itís time to totally identify with Christ. He died to the flesh on the Cross and He wants us to follow Him. He is dead to sin and alive to God. We need to have the same commitment and attitude. This is the mind of Christ.
"Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God" (1 Peter 4:1-2).
The kind of teachings which satisfy and strengthen the flesh must be exposed. Itís time to return to solid biblical teaching and doctrine. Itís time to remember we have a new life in Christ. Itís time to walk in the Spirit of truth ó not in the spirit of our feelings.
If we go the way of long-term covenant relationship with Jesus and the way of the cross, then we will totally defeat the Devil. Our covenant relationship with God was meant to be based on long-term commitment and faithfulness. As long as we remain in proper relationship with God and remain grounded in His Word, then we will walk in all the benefits of covenant protection.
"And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb (covenant) and by the word of their testimony (the Word), and they did not love their (fleshly) lives to the death (the cross)" (Revelation 12:11).