Image source: Clive Uptton
S: Numbers 22-31
22:12 God said to Balaam, “You shall not go with them. You shall not curse the people; for they are blessed.”
22:21-22 Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his donkey, and went with the princes of Moab. God’s anger burned because he went; and Yahweh’s angel placed himself in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him.
23:20 Behold, I have received a command to bless. He has blessed, and I can’t reverse it.
24:1-5 When Balaam saw that it pleased Yahweh to bless Israel, he didn’t go, as at the other times, to meet with enchantments, but he set his face toward the wilderness. Balaam lifted up his eyes, and he saw Israel dwelling according to their tribes; and the Spirit of God came on him. He took up his parable, and said, “Balaam the son of Beor says, the man whose eyes are open says; he says, who hears the words of God, who sees the vision of the Almighty, falling down, and having his eyes open: How goodly are your tents, Jacob, and your dwellings, Israel!”
31:8 They killed the kings of Midian with the rest of their slain: Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba, the five kings of Midian. They also killed Balaam the son of Beor with the sword.
31:16 Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against Yahweh in the matter of Peor, and so the plague was among the congregation of Yahweh.
O: Balaam appears to be a real prophet who really heard from God. Yet, he was also practicing Simony — the commercialization of the spiritual. People paid him to curse their enemies, which is why Balak had the idea to ask Balaam to curse the Israelites for him.
God told him not to go, yet in the end, because of his avarice, God allowed him to go. But even so, God prevented him from cursing the Israelites.
However, Balaam knew that if he could alienate the Israelites from God, then the Israelites wouldn't be protected anymore, so he advised the Midianites to use their women to seduce Israelite men to commit spiritual adultery (along with physical adultery.)
For that, he was destroyed along with the Midianites when the scheme was thwarted.
A: People can really be Christians and really be led by God at various times in their lives, yet end up astray. In recent times here in Southeast Asia, we have seen the downfall of Pastor Kong Hee and his pop singer wife Sun Ho of City Harvest megachurch due to corruption and misappropriation of funds.
At various other times, we've seen other falls from grace of prominent Christian leaders.
Does this mean that all their ministry has been fake? Not necessarily, just as Balaam really was a prophet of God.
But this does mean that if God gives us spiritual success, we still need to beware, lest we fall. (1 Corinthians 10:12)
P: Father, let me not become overconfident and prideful. I must remember that my adversary, the devil, walks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8). Lead me away from temptation, and deliver me from the evil one. (Matthew 6:13) In Jesus' name, amen.
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)