Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Balaam, the Conundrum 

“And Balaam raised his eyes, and saw Israel encamped according to their tribes; and the Spirit of God came upon him.” (Numbers 24:2, NKJV)

Who is Balaam?

Balaam is the son of Beor and he comes from Pethor which may be our Syria.  He lived near a river which is likely the Euphrates.  He was a diviner or spiritist who seemed to know who Jehovah was and who got messages from Him.  When we first meet him we would think he would be a worshiper of Jehovah much like Melchizedek or like Moses’ father-in-law.  However, while he spoke the messages of God and had the Spirit of God come on him, he attempted to destroy the Israelites by encouraging Moab and Midian to intermarry with the Israelites.   He knew this would cause Israel to worship the gods of those nations.

Was He or Wasn’t He?

Was Balaam a saint in the New Testament sense or was he an unbeliever in the New Testament sense?  I don’t know that I can give a definite answer to this question.  We would normally assume that if a man speaks by the Spirit of God, that he or she is a believer.  However, Balaam’s donkey spoke truth to him and the LORD opened the donkey’s mouth.  The donkey is an unclean animal and certainly was not a believer.  So the fact that Balaam spoke by the Spirit of God and the fact that he knew the truth about God and His plan for His people does not make him a believer in my book.   But he did seem to understand the end of righteous people and said, “Who can count the dust of Jacob, Or number one-fourth of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, And let my end be like his!” (Numbers 23:10, NKJV)  That statement would make one think he was a worshiper of Jehovah.  However, whether he was or not, he knew the truth of God’s plan for Israel and he spoke blessings instead of cursings on the people of Israel.  Balak (the Moabite king) seemed to think that Balaam had the power to bless and curse, however, Balaam only had the power to relay God’s message about the blessings and the curses.  

What Kind of Man was He?

Balak offered him honor which obviously included wealth if he would just curse the Israelites.  Peter says that he loved the wages of unrighteousness (2 Peter 2:15).  Jude says in 1:11 that he was greedy.  John says in the book of Revelation that he “taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.”(Revelation 2:14) 


I personally doubt that Balaam will be in heaven, but that is not really the issue.  Do we have people today who are destroying the people of God by their knowledge of scripture and their messages that reflect the truth of God but who deep in their hearts are intentionally destroying the people of God?  Paul warned the Ephesians about this in Acts 20.  There would be wolves from outside and false teachers that arise from within the church itself that were out to destroy churches then (and today).

How do we recognize the Balaams among us? 

We need to ask:  Are they preaching for honor (large world wide congregations and audiences with political leaders)?  Are they merchandising the Gospel and using it to get rich?  Are they giving people what they want or are they giving people what they need?

Just because we are going to a church where the Bible is opened and explained, that does not mean that we are in a place where we can live holy (separated) lives where the Lord can use us and protect us.  When our preachers become motivational preachers who tell people how to act like Christians before telling them how to become Christians, beware. When our preachers become more concerned with making members than with making disciples, beware.  When they become multimillionaires, beware.  

However, when they actually warn people about coming judgment upon unbelieving nations and unbelieving people thank God for them. There are faithful preachers who love the Lord and the Lord’s people.

Bruce Collins

Meditation for the weeks of February 25 and March 3, 2024

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