‘I’m only human, born to make mistaaaaaakes’ – so the song goes and we can all relate with it. We’re human beings. We fall. We make mistakes. As Christians, we are called to live a life of integrity as we imitate Christ. Recently, I listened to a podcast by Ravi Zacharias who talked about Balaam. Supposedly, a man who communicates with God and who has the power to bless and curse – but we are told not to be like him.
“So Balak, king of Moab, sent messengers to call Balaam son of Beor, who was living in his native land of Pethor near the Euphrates River. His message said:
“Look, a vast horde of people has arrived from Egypt. They cover the face of the earth and are threatening me. Please come and curse these people for me because they are too powerful for me. Then perhaps I will be able to conquer them and drive them from the land. I know that blessings fall on any people you bless, and curses fall on people you curse.”
Balak’s messengers, who were elders of Moab and Midian, set out with money to pay Balaam to place a curse upon Israel. They went to Balaam and delivered Balak’s message to him. “Stay here overnight,” Balaam said. “In the morning I will tell you whatever the Lord directs me to say.” So the officials from Moab stayed there with Balaam.” - Numbers 22:4-8
You see, Balak wanted to curse the children of Israel and Balaam was the man for the job. Balaam had a relationship with God and was a man who talked with God – but his heart was set on his own personal gain.
“What sorrow awaits them! For they follow in the footsteps of Cain, who killed his brother. Like Balaam, they deceive people for money. And like Korah, they perish in their rebellion.” - Jude 1:11 (NLT)
Balaam thought he can buy God’s permission to curse the Children of Israel with money. In the end, God did not let him curse the children of Israel, and he did not indeed curse them – he obeyed God. But his heart showed that he loved the gains of this world more than he loved and knew God. If there was any sort of inkling that God would change that, he would’ve cursed Israel for personal gain in a heartbeat.
On the outside, Balaam was a Christian, but on the inside, the worldly gains of this world has taken its roots deep into his soul.
The Story of a Watchman by Dwight L. Moody
There was a man working as a watchman on a level inter-crossing on a railway section. His responsibility was to wave a lamp to signal to warn the train when there was danger ahead and the train would stop and and prevent the train from an accident. One night there was a tremendous accident – the engine driver killed, many people on board killed, and the watchman was taken to a court of law. And the basic question asked to the watchman was this: “On the night that this accident took place, did you wave the lamp?”
And the watchman said “Yes sir, I waved the lamp.”
“Then why didn’t the train stop?”
“You’d have to ask the engine driver.”
“But the engine driver is dead.”
The judge asked the watchman again, “Did you wave the lamp?”
“I wanna ask you one more time sir, on the night of this fatality, were you on duty?”
“Did you wave the lamp?”
After that case was over and the watchman was walking away, one of his friends says to the watchman “I don’t understand it, the judge asked you the same question 3 times, and each time he asked it, he seemed to be asking it with a greater degree of intensity, and you were answering it with a greater degree of weakness. Did you not wave the lamp?”
He said, “Yes I did.”
“Then why are you trembling? The answer is yes, whether he asked you a thousand times or one time, isn’t it?”
He said, “Yeah but, something was wrong.”
“What was wrong?”
“You see, the night that this fatality took place – this accident -took place, I was busy doing something else, and suddenly I knew there was danger ahead and I thought I had enough time before the train came, suddenly i heard the train coming, and I didn’t have enough time to put a light inside the lamp, I grabbed the lamp and went and waved it in front of the engine driver, there was no light inside of it, and the engine driver went on. But the man asked me if I waved the lamp, yes I did.”
You see, Balaam waved the lamp but there was no light in it. Balaam did not curse the children of Israel, but he taught Balak, king of Moab, to send the Moabite women to the Israelite camp so that the Israelites will curse themselves.
“But I have a few complaints against you. You tolerate some among you whose teaching is like that of Balaam, who showed Balak how to trip up the people of Israel. He taught them to sin by eating food offered to idols and by committing sexual sin.” - Revelation 2:14 (NLT)
The Bible says that there will be many Balaam in these days. On the outside Balaam looked pure but on the inside he is rotten. Those who for the love of personal gain, would cause someone to sin and cause a stumbling block.