I have to admit the guy Balaam in the Bible confuses me! He’s a mess!! He appears to have a reputation as a “prophet” – He speaks for the Lord on occasion, but as they say, “He’s NOT all in!”
It seems like Baalam really would have liked to please the pagan king Balak, curse Israel, and profit from the wealth he promised. But he knew he could not say anything except what the Lord would allow him to say. In fact, on one occasion, although God allowed him to go with agents from king Balak, an angel appeared on the trail with a drawn sword, and the frightened donkey Balaam was riding crushed his leg against a wall on one side of the trail. Balaam beat the donkey, but God spoke through the donkey to Baalam and the angel warned him to speak only what God would allow him to speak.
Four times Balaam attempts to prophesy curses at Balak’s request, but each time God turned his attempt into a blessing! All of this takes place between Numbers 22 – 24 in your Bible! In one of Balaam’s attempts to curse Israel, God prompts him to declare, “How can I curse whom God has not cursed? How shall I denounce whom the Lord has not denounced! … Behold, I have received a command to bless; He [the Lord] has blessed, and I cannot reverse it!”” (Numbers 23:8, 20)
Baalam reminds me of individuals who try to “play both sides of the fence!” On the one hand they acknowledge God’s reality, even at times seek to represent Him. But they are also enamored by pagan culture – they fool around dabbling in the pleasures of this world and want the benefits it brings. They have known the presence and reality of God in their lives, but they are not “sold out” to Him. Their commitment is casual and superficial at best… in their mind they’re “for sale to the best bidder” and they’ll sell out to whoever will give them what they want. (Baalam did eventually sell out and betrayed Israel! – check out Deuteronomy 23:3-6; 2 Peter 2:15-16; Revelation 2:14)
Here’s what Jesus declared… “He said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:34–38; also Matthew 16:24-27 and Luke 9:23-26)
Let me tell you… I do NOT want to be a Balaam! I want to be “all in” for the Lord!!!