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    by Gino Geraci

The Error of Balaam (Jude 11b)
Date Posted: June 7, 2007

. . . have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit (Jude 1:11b NKJV).

The story of Balaam is contained in the book of Numbers (22:1-41). Here’s the short version of the story.

The children of Israel were headed for the promised land. They were by some estimates a horde of about 3 million souls. Balak was the king of the Moabites. He was concerned that Israel would sweep through the land, consume all the natural resources and leave nothing for his people. He hired Balaam to curse the approaching mob of Israel. Balaam said, “Wait here while I talk to God about this situation.” Before Balaam even had a chance to ask the Lord, the Lord told Balaam not to curse Israel (Num.22:9-12).

Balaam sent messengers to Balak with the word that Balaam simply couldn't honor the king's request. Balak in return sent important messengers to Balaam. The messengers arrived on the best horses and camels money could buy. They were wearing silk robes and designer accessories. They basically told Balaam, Join us, and you also will have the finest money can buy.” To his credit, Balaam said, “Even if you offer me a tent full of silver and gold, I wouldn’t go with you.“ The messengers returned to the king empty handed.

A third time they went to Balaam. This time they offered him great wealth and honor. And for the third time, Balaam said he would seek the Lord. The Lord gave Balaam permission to go, so off Balaam went. In route, an angel appeared to his donkey, causing the donkey to crash into a wall and smash Balaam's foot. He chastised the donkey for crushing his foot and began to beat the donkey with his staff. A conversation with the donkey ensued.

You would think a talking donkey would get your attention. Not Balaam. He continued going on, until he reached the encampment of the people of Israel. He opened his mouth to curse them, but out came a blessing. The king of Moab was furious. "Dude--I paid you to curse them --not bless them! Maybe we should change locations.” So they build another altar in another location. Once more Balaam stood to curse, but God caused blessings to flow from his mouth.

What are we to make of all this? How could Balaam continue on his wicked course of disobedience? The fact is, Balaam was motivated by greed. He thought because the children of Israel were rebellious and disobedient, God would surely want to destroy them. And he of course it didn’t hurt any that he could get rich in the process.

Balaam failed to appreciate God's grace and mercy. He knew he could not bring a curse upon them, but they could bring God's judgment and curse on themselves through outright disobedience to God. Balaam suggested the Moabite women prance, dance and romance the men of Israel. Men, driven by lust, would fall prey to Moabite women and in turn fall prey to foreign idol worship. Balaam knew the heart of man is wicked. In the book of Numbers we read, "the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods." The anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and 24,000 people died as a result (Numbers 25:1-9).

Balaam gave some of the most beautiful messianic prophecies of the Old Testament.

Three times Balaam blessed Israel. In the end Balaam prophesied, "I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; a Star shall come out of Jacob; A Scepter shall rise out of Israel, and batter the brow of Moab, And destroy all the sons of tumult"
(Num.24:17).

The false prophet can sometimes both see and say things from God. How do you explain that? The error of Balaam was in the fact he did not understand God's grace. He was a loser and a false prophet because he left the love of God for riches. God's love and God's grace and God's word was not enough. He wanted money, honor and riches. He was greed.

What is greed? Greed is never being satisfied, rarely being thankful, always wanting a little bit more. A new car, a larger home, more honor, better neighbors, more money. Better clothes. Better job. "For profit" in verse 14 doesn’t necessarily refer to only money. It can be popularity, fame, applause.

Does this mean God never wants you to succeed or go forward? No! But greed and ingratitude will remove you from the spout where the blessings come out!

Balaam was certainly used by God. Balaam certainly received “real” words from God. But Balaam was more greedy for gold than for God. In the end Balaam perished with the enemies of God. "Balaam also the son of Beor, the soothsayer, did the children of Israel slay with the sword among them that were slain by them" (Josh.13:22).

What about you? Is your life characterized by a focus on greed rather than a focus on God?

© 2007 by Gino Geraci

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Biography Information:
Gino Geraci is the founding Pastor of Calvary South Denver.

He has served as a police chaplain for several police departments and currently serves as a Police Chaplain for the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Department. Gino has provided emergency service support in many national tragedies. He was a first responder at Columbine High School, Ground Zero in New York, and Platte Canyon High School.

Gino has appeared on scores of national and local radio programs as a guest, including television appearances with Lee Stroebel's Faith Under Fire. He currently hosts a daily radio program with Salem Media in Denver, Colorado area.

Gino is a much sought after conference speaker. He has conducted leadership conferences, Bible conferences, and emergency service support conferences with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Samaritans' Purse, Gospel for Asia in India and Sri Lanka, the Bible League in Africa, Food For The Poor in Jamaica, Mike McIntosh Crusades in Mexico, Somebody Loves You Bible Conferences with Raul Ries in Chile, Columbia and Peru, and pastor's conferences in much of the continental United States.

Gino is currently the pastor of Calvary South Denver where he continues to minister, preach, teach, and serve.
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