Balaam was a man who, like Cain, wanted to go his own way, typical of the flesh within all of us to one degree or another, and good it would be for each of us to curb those fleshly desires and seek a path that is pleasing to God, thus avoiding the calamities that marked some who have gone their own way.
Balaam’s name appears in no less than eight books of the Bible, and it hardly needs to be stated that in his history, God is emphasizing some lessons for us. Peter tells us that “he loved the wages of unrighteousness” (2 Pet 2:15), and in Numbers 22:7, we read that the elders of Moab and Midian came with the rewards of divination in their hand, and Balak said, “I will promote thee unto very great honor” (v 17). These things seem to have overcome any thoughts he may have had to do what God told him, and although he offered many bullocks and rams, God was angry because of his disobedience. “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Sam 15:22).
In the day in which we live, some would try, like Balaam, to manipulate God and His word and so “wrest the Scriptures to their own destruction” (2 Pet 3:16). Balaam’s anger, self-will and violence had such complete control of him that he didn’t appear to be shocked even when a dumb animal spoke to him, but answered back, “I would that there were a sword in my hand for now I would kill thee.” What folly!
Presently he saw a sword, but it was in the hand of the angel that withstood him, and it is significant in the letter to Pergamos, the church which harbored those who held the doctrine of Balaam, the message is “from Him who hath the sharp sword with two edges” (Rev 2:12). His message to Pergamos was, “Repent, or else I will come unto thee quickly, and I will fight against thee with the sword of my mouth” (Rev 2:16). Note also that Balaam had a violent end, for he perished by the sword. Mr. Scofield points out that the doctrine of Balaam was that he taught Balak to corrupt the people who could not be cursed, by tempting them to marry women of Moab, defile their separation and abandon their pilgrim character. Surely this is a solemn lesson and food for thought for any of the Lord’s people contemplating the honorable institution of marriage.
The church at Pergamos is charg-ed with having some among them that held the doctrine of Balaam who taught Balak three things: to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication.
The disastrous results of his doctrine is seen in Numbers 25, when 24,000 lost their lives, and the plague was only stayed when Phinehas had the courage to single-handedly judge the evil. There are many evidences today of the doctrine of Balaam. The tragic mixtures in Christendom and the moral climate of our day reflect the spirit of Balaam. Satan has ever opposed the God who divided the light from the darkness in the beginning. He has been attempting ever since to mingle light and darkness, to mix truth with error and to confuse the line of demarcation between right and wrong. His sphere of activity is in the spiritual realm, so he is most active in taking away or adding to “Thus saith the Lord”. Even the present day tongues movement with its excitement and sensationalism is a stumbling block to many of God’s people, an evident indication that Balaam’s doctrine is still around.