by Ivor Powell

Balaam...the Prophet Who Sold His Soul
Ivor Powell
Numbers 23:10, 31:8

Balaam remains one of the most enigmatic men mentioned in the Bible. He was a confused, bewildering conundrum, a prophet who never obtained what he most desired, and seldom said what he wanted to say. If he lived today he might have been an expert at riding a bicycle backward! He was always looking at things that were receding. His dreams never came true. He chased rainbows.

There were occasions when he resembled a puppet on a string. His lips moved but the words were not his own. The message was spoken by the Lord, who held the strings that governed movements. He knew what was pleasing to God, but refused to abandon his own desires. Like a moth returning to a dangerous flame, Balaam went back repeatedly to something that proved to be fatal. Trying to become wealthy he went bankrupt. He yearned to become a man of distinction and enjoyed being with kings; alas, he was buried with them. He thought he had found a gold mine; however, it was "fools' gold." He died a miserable pauper who had been humiliated by his own donkey!

A Man Tempted . . . Danger

The actions of the ancient magician or whatever he was, were confusing and difficult to understand. Maybe the writers of the New Testament possessed additional information, for they denounced Balaam as a schemer, a miser, and an enemy of righteousness (see 2 Peter 2:15-16 and Rev. 2:14). Peter did not hesitate to mention the "madness" of Balaam.

Pethor was a city on the west bank of the Upper Euphrates River. It was an important center much desired by the kings who attacked it. Balaam resided there; his achievements had gained for him widespread popularity. He was probably a wizard who professed to be a spokesman for Jehovah, but he was not a devout believer in God. His income was derived from divination, and it was significant that when Balak, the king of the Moabites, solicited aid, the rewards of divination were offered to the hesi ...

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