BALAAM (Part 6 of 7)

  1. The Marks of the Tribe 

Every tribe has its identifying marks, the Tribe of Balaam no less.  Balaamites are essentially a congregation of stumblers who themselves cause others to stumble.  Through the ‘in-depth teachings’ of their much-respected Prophet Balaam, they often make their victims to doubt basic Christian values.  They are ‘word-based’ believers who have a Bible passage for every bad behaviour. 

If you should tell them that food sacrificed to idols could be a pollution, or that a certain mode of relating with the opposite sex was fornication, they have an array of Bible bullets from their prophet-teacher to resist you with. They cast a ‘stumblingblock’ before the people of God, but will never admit that that is what they cause.  Who are you to teach them anything when they teach even kings?  “…Balaam, who taught [King] Balac…”  Pride, that comes from much wrong knowledge (1 Corinthians 8:1).

Their doctrine is called “the doctrine of Balaam,” not the doctrine of Jesus, not the doctrine of God.  It is the doctrine of a man; the doctrine of a spiritual boss and mentor; the doctrine of a most adored “Papa B.”  They ‘hold’ to it, very strongly, as if their very existence hangs on it.

  1. Change of Name 

I, formally known and called Balaam, meaning “lord of the people,” interpreted by others variously as “foreigner,” “glutton,” “devourer,” “the ancient of the people,” “the destruction of the people”; son of Beor (rendered in some newer documents as “Bosor”), meaning “torch,” “burning,” “to consume” or “to devour”; a native of Edom (descendant of Esau the son of Isaac the son of Abraham), residing in Pethor, meaning “interpretation of dreams,” a city of Mesopotamia located along the banks of the Euphrates River, near the Hittite capital of Carchemish (Numbers 22:5; Deuteronomy 23:4), a Prophet of the God of Abraham, hereby put the public on notice, of my new identify as Soothsayer.  All previous documents remain valid, but previous contacts hereafter are conditional.

WITNESSES: General Joshua (Joshua 13:22) and Apostle Peter (2 Peter 2:16).

  1. From Prophet to Soothsayer 

Balaam was a prophet of God, a great prophet of God.  Even Apostle Peter recognized it, except that Balaam had the unfortunate additional title of Madness to that of Prophet – a mad prophet.  He was respected in ministry as “the man whose eyes are open.”  Note the tense: “… ARE open”; not ‘were.’   He “heard the words of God, and knew the knowledge of the most High, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open” (Numbers 24:3, 15, 16).  Note the verbs: he heard, he knew, he saw.  He operated not only in the realms of audible voices but also in deep knowledge and open visions.  He was multi-dimensional in his spirituality.  Balaam saw visions with the natural eyes.

That Balaam was a prophet of God meant that he was guided by the Spirit of God.  He was so endowed that he didn’t need to pray and fast many days, like some of us, to enjoy the presence of God.  It was often said of him, “And God came unto Balaam” (Numbers 22:9, 20).  God knew his address.  He didn’t have to go; God came to him.  Balaam didn’t take long to get answers from God.  He spoke not only with mortals but also with angels and with God (Numbers 22:9-10, 32-35).

At some point in the life of this great man, however, his spiritual designation changed from “Prophet” to “Soothsayer” (Joshua 13:22).  A prophet (of God) is guided by the Spirit of God; a soothsayer, by the spirit of devils.  Balaam becoming a soothsayer meant that he had been infiltrated by wrong spirits.

Other words for “soothsayer” are “sorcerer,” “wizard,” and “diviner,” all of which describe subtle demonic activities related to the operations of the false prophet.  In Acts 13:6-7, for instance, we read of one Barjesus who was a sorcerer and false prophet; a ‘sorcerer’ raised to power ‘false prophet.’  Both are devilish kindred practices.  Barjesus often stayed close to thrones, and exploited that privileged proximity against the people and purposes of God.

A classic example of our subject comes from the experience of Apostle Paul.  It was one explosive encounter with a sly soothsayer.  It took deep insights and many days of patient discernment to detect that counterfeit operation in the house of God.  The soothsaying looked so much like prophecy; the fake looked so much like the original.

And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying (Acts 16:16).

The damsel of which this passage speaks was a very audible ‘ministry partner’ of Paul and Silas.  She was regular at the prayer meetings with those mighty preachers.  She carefully took a place – in the ‘prayer department’ – where no one would expect any sensible devil to be at.  In that holy place she functioned by the counter “spirit of divination,” further described as “soothsaying,” making the point that both soothsaying and divination are kindred evils.  That young woman often said the right words, but from a wrong spirit.  Nobody could easily tell the difference.  It was subtle, like the serpent.

The Greek work translated “divination” in that passage is “python,” so the verse could well read that the damsel was ‘possessed with a python spirit,’ or that she ‘prophesied’ by a serpentine evil spirit.  Judging by her residency in the coastal city of Philippi, we might further suppose that it was a marine python spirit.  Could Balaam also have opened up to the marine spirits of his Euphrates River community?

According to Hosea 4:12, the spirit of divination is “the spirit of whoredoms” (prostitution), which often causes “my people … to err.”  In other words, this spirit seduces into error, and it is the spirit of error.  According to Ezekiel 21:21, the spirit of divination often thrives in symbols, tokens, ‘prophetic items,’ objects, and sometimes, animal parts.  Did Balaam decline that low?

Balaam was a prophet who became a soothsayer.  Prophets and soothsayers deal in the supernatural, but through different channels: one through the power of God, the other through occult powers.   The connection between Balaam’s old self as a prophet of God and his new self as a soothsayer, was the bridge called Greed.

If a true prophet operates by the Spirit of God and a soothsayer by the spirit of Satan; if Balaam degenerated from being a Prophet to being a Soothsayer, it means that at some point in his ministry, his public holy titles were no longer spiritually correct, and those who judged only by titles were going to be fooled.  Since none can serve two masters, and light and darkness do not dwell together (Matthew 6:24; 2 Corinthians 6:14), becoming a soothsayer meant that the Spirit of God departed from him.  Balaam lost not only his spiritual office as prophet but also the Spirit of God by which he walked in that office.  In other words, no matter how much his present activities still resembled his previous services, something was not the same.  Only the very discerning were to know.

The supervising spirit in a church can change while the church name and signboards remain the same.  In other words, the hallowed name of a church and its crystal cathedral are not necessarily the eyes for seeing the spirit that rules in a place, or that has begun to rule in that place.

Just as fleshly lust thrust out the Lord from Samson’s life (and he was unaware), so did greed grieve away the Spirit of God from Balaam, opening the door to devils, and turning that great prophet of God into a soothsayer, a sorcerer, a wizard, while still he was very active as an international prophet.  “And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him” (Judges 16:20).

Every prophecy in the name of the Lord is not from the Lord.  The title does not make the prophet; the mantle does not make the ministry.  The rightness of a prophecy is not in the title of the prophet.  That a prophet was right in the past does not mean that he is right forever.  Every fresh prophesy demands its fresh evaluation and discernment. “Try the spirits” does not refer only to devils.  It means also the spirit of man and the spirits of God.  God will not be mad at you for obeying His injunction to “believe not every spirit,” even if they were spirits at a prayer meeting in the hallowed sanctuaries of Paul and Silas (1 John 4:1; Acts 16:16-18).  God did not throw innocent little Samuel into the fire for consecutively running in the ‘wrong direction’ of his blind boss when the Heavenly Boss was calling him.  Daddy God waited until the little boy had knowledge enough to say, “Speak Lord…” (1 Samuel 3:1-10).  “Hello, Dad, is that You, Lord?”

Frolicking with desperate politicians who wanted to win over their opponents by every means, Balaam had been indiscriminate in where he went.  He got hired by them, and got fired by God.  His ministry name remained the same, but the ministry spirit had changed.  He still called the name of the Lord in his services, but he worked cleverly by a different spirit.  Only apostles like Peter, who themselves had had the unfortunate experience of having been infiltrated by Satan to prophesy, were rebuked and restored by the Master, could have discerned it (Matthew 16:22-23).

From The Preacher’s diary,
January 18, 2023.

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