The Balaam Effect

There was a time when I struggled with the ‘Balaam’ in me. What I mean by that is this. I would ask God for direction in a certain situation. Then when God answered me, I would feel torn between what I thought was better than God’s answer. Then I would ask again to see if maybe He would ‘change His mind’. This is what I mean by the ‘Balaam’ effect.

In the book of Numbers, I was reading in chapters 22 through 24 about Balaam, a non-Israelite prophet and diviner. He lived in Mesopotamia along the Euphrates river. He wasn’t a false prophet, but he was a wicked prophet. He said what God had told him to say in this portion, but his heart was not right with God. He ended up betraying Israel and leading them astray.

Now Balak was the King of Moab, and he saw all that Israel and their God had accomplished. As Israel drew closer and closer to him, he got scared that they would come up against him and take away his land and possessions – and possible kill them off. Israel had just camped in the “Plains of Moab”. So Balak sent for Balaam to come and put a divine curse on Israel. This was so that Balak could attack them first and take all of their possessions, including cattle.

However, Israel is God’s chosen people. So when the messengers of Balak came to Balaam to ask him to come back with them to Balak, Balaam told them to spend the night and he will ask God what to do. As an answer to his inquiry, God told him, “You shall not go with them. You shall not curse the people, for they are blessed. (Numbers 22:12)” So that is what he told them. They went away, and told Balak that Balaam told them he could not go.

So Balak sent more prominent men of his to persuade Balaam to come back with them so he can curse this horde of people. The men go, and Balaam tells them to stay the night to ask God what he should do. Now, God had already told him what to do and why. So when he came back to God with the same inquiry, it wasn’t because he was honestly seeking God’s guidance here. He was simply hoping God would change his mind so that his situation would be more favorable and lucrative. What do you think God said?

Actually, He said, “If the men have come to call you, rise, go with them; but only do what I tell you. (Numbers 22:20)” So Balaam gets up bright and early in the morning, saddles his donkey – yes, the famous talking donkey – and sets out to go to Balak. That infuriates God. It was at this point that I couldn’t understand why God got mad. Wasn’t Balaam just doing what God said? And this is where I learned that I have been missing this part of the message for so long.

God told Balaam, “IF the men have come to call you, rise, go with them.” He said ‘IF’, and Balaam skipped that word as well as I did. Instead of waiting for the men to come back to his tent to ask him what God says, Balaam got up the next morning, and he hurried to saddle his donkey, load it up for a trip, and went to the men. In his haste, he didn’t stop to think, “why did God tell me ‘no’ last time, and say ‘go with them’ this time?” And he didn’t stop to think, “now what was it that God said before ‘rise, go with them’?” He just heard, “go with them”, and got up in the morning and went. So, of course, God was not pleased to say the least.

Have you done this? I know that I have. There have been times when God has told me something, but in my own haste and ignorance, I paid attention to only part of what God said and it turned out to be wrong in multiple ways. Then I would wonder why things weren’t going so well for me. I would get upset that things weren’t working out the way I had thought they should go, and I would get mad at those around me not doing what I think they should be doing. Then God would use someone around me to set me straight, opening my eyes to what awaits me if I continue down the path that I was taking without thinking about God. And that was a mercy that God used that someone or something to set me straight.

God is sovereign; He knows what will happen in any and every scenario. How do I keep thinking that I know better? How do I keep getting myself into the ‘Balaam’ effect? Why do I keep thinking that God will change His mind? Hindsight shows me that these don’t make sense. But when I am in the ‘Balaam effect’, I turn back to these very things.

Moving forward, and now that God has Balaam’s attention, he meets with Balak, King of Moab. Balak is mad that Balaam didn’t come to him with the first set of messengers. But Balaam says, in essence, “Look, I’m here now! I can only say what God tells me to say.” So they go up to a place where they see a portion of Israel, and Balaam says to Balak to set up some altars and sacrifice on them. Then he will inquire of the Lord. So he does. And Balaam goes off away from Balak. God comes to him and says, “Return to Balak, and thus you shall speak.” So he returns to Balak, and he tells him all that God told him, which turns out to be a blessing on Israel. Needless to say, Balak was mad.

So they went to a different place where they could see less of Israel. Balaam tells Balak to set up altars and sacrifice on them, again. Then Balaam walks just out of earshot of Balak. God, again, says to Balaam, “Return to Balak, and thus shall you speak.” He comes back to Balak, and he ends up speaking yet another blessing on Israel. Balak gets very mad. He basically says, “I asked you to curse them, but you keep blessing them. Don’t curse them or bless them.” But Balaam told him that he can only say or do what God tells him.

So they went to a third place. Balak seems to be desperate. He is really trying to get Balaam to just curse them and be done. However, this third time Balaam told Balak to make the altars and sacrifices like before, but instead of inquiring of the Lord, he realizes that God is not going to change His mind. In fact, it pleases God to bless Israel. So he just goes straight into the blessing without having to go through the motions of walking away and asking and waiting til God answers. He remembers what God said before and that he does not change.

At the first sight, he said in Numbers 23:8, “How can I curse whom God has not cursed?” At the second sight, he said in Numbers 23:19-20, “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Behold, I have received a command to bless: he has blessed, and I cannot revoke it.” Then finally at the third sight, he said in Numbers 24:3-4, “…the oracle of the man whose eye is opened, the oracle of him who hears the words of God, who sees the vision of the Almighty, falling down with his eyes uncovered…” This third time was the last draw for Balak. He was infuriated. He had asked Balaam to curse Israel and spent so much on this, but all that had happened was he had wasted some quality bulls and rams and Israel was blessed multiple times.

What God says comes to pass regardless of what we say or do. The problem is our motive and hard-heartedness. Again, what’s gonna happen is gonna happen. The point is whose side are you on: God’s or someone/something else’s? And that is where we have to look at where our motives reside. When God tells you in some way what to do, do you do it, or do you look for other ways because they might be more advantageous to you? I can tell you from experience, the answer to that question doesn’t always make sense in hindsight. But if you truthfully and open-heartedly answer that question – for yourself, I don’t need to know – then you will be ready to grow once again. If you run from it, you are not ready to grow. The ‘Balaam effect’ has now come to an end.

Gotta go fill up my cup…..


Published by Coffee With Candee

I am married and I have four sons that are my whole world. I have a relationship with God through Jesus. Oh, and I have a blood cancer that has no known cure as of yet called Multiple Myeloma. Go Coffee!!!

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