Who was Balaam?

Balaam was one of those noteworthy Old Testament characters who, though not one of Gods chosen people, was willing to acknowledge that Yahweh (the Lord) was indeed a powerful God. But he did not believe in the Lord as the only true God. His story exposes the deception of maintaining an outward facade of spirituality over a corrupt inward life. Balaam was a man ready to obey Gods command as long as he could profit from doing so. This mixture of motivesobedience and profiteventually led to Balaam's death. Although he realized the awesome power of Israels God, his heart was occupied with the wealth he could gain in Moab. There he returned to die when the armies of Israel invaded.

Eventually, each of us lives through the same process. Who and what we are will somehow come to the surface, destroying any masks we may have put on to cover up our real selves. Efforts spent on keeping up appearances would be much better spent on finding the answer Scriptures have in our lives. We can avoid Balaam's mistake by facing ourselves and realizing that God is willing to accept us, forgive us, and literally make us over from within. Don't miss this great discovery that eluded Balaam.

Strengths and accomplishments:

Widely known for his effective curses and blessings

Obeyed God and blessed Israel, in spite of Balak's bribe

Weaknesses and mistakes:

Encouraged the Israelites to worship idols (Numbers 31:16)

Returned to Moab and was killed in war

Lessons from his life:

Motives are just as important as actions

Your treasure is where your heart is

Vital statistics:

Where: Lived near the Euphrates River, traveled to Moab

Occupations: Sorcerer, prophet

Relative: Father: Beor

Contemporaries: Balak (king of Moab), Moses, Aaron

Key verses:

"They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness. But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey a beast without speech who spoke with a man's voice and restrained the prophets madness" (2 Peter 2:15-16).

Balaam's story is told in Numbers 22:1-24:25. He is also mentioned in Numbers 31:7-8, 16; Deut. 23:4-5; Joshua 24:9-10; Neh. 13:2; Micah 6:5; 2 Peter 2:15-16; Jude 11; Rev. 2:14.