A. Man is unique among all of God's creation in that he has the
ability to learn from history.
1. Man has the ability to record events as he lives them;
thus, leaving a record for future generations.
B. The Bible is the very best in recording past history from which
we can learn.
1. We can learn from the good conduct of others.
2. Also, we can learn from the mistakes and bitter
experiences of others.
a. It is wonderful that we don't need to have those
same bitter experiences in order to learn and profit.
C. Paul taught - Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11
D. In this lesson we want to examine the mistakes of a unique
man with hope that we can learn and avoid the same mistakes.
1. The man is the prophet Balaam.
I. BALAAM LOVED MONEY.
A. Moab and Midian (ancient relatives of Israel) form an alliance
and try to hire Balaam to prophesy a curse against Israel.
1. They came with the diviner's fee in their hand; e.g., a fee
that was paid to soothsayers and fortune tellers. Num.
2. Numbers 22:8-14
a. Vs. 12 - This should have ended the matter once for
B. However, when more princes came promising more money
and honor, Balaam wanted very much to go with them. Num.
1. His answer in verse 18 was a good one.
a. No amount of money or place of honor is worth the
compromise of one's convictions.
b. Also, no amount of threats or persecutions should
cause us to compromise our convictions.
2. Balaam has a very real inward problem, the same one
Judas had, the love of money. 2 Pet. 2:15; Jude 11
II. BALAAM WANTED TO SEE WHAT MORE THE LORD HAD TO SAY. Num. 22:19
A. It is hard to understand here why God tells Balaam to go, and
then becomes angry with him when he goes. Num. 22:20-22
B. However, God had plainly spoken to Balaam, "You shall not
go with them," but Balaam was not satisfied with that. He
1. There was a man in a saloon who had far too much to
drink. When asked for another drink, the bartender
replied with the age old question, "Don't you think you
have had enough?" The drunk replied, "But I want more
2. God had stated enough to Balaam, but He wanted more
than enough. This shows his lack of honor and respect
C. Human nature doesn't change.
1. God has revealed His will about how to obtain
forgiveness of sins but people want more. Acts 2:38
2. God has revealed His will about music in worship but
people want more. Eph. 5:19
3. God has revealed His will about divorce and remarriage
but some want more. Matt. 19:9
4. Honor and respect toward God demands that we do
exactly as God ordained, no more and no less.
a. Look at the example of King Saul. 1 Sam. 15:18-23
III. BALAAM'S EXPERIENCE WITH HIS DONKEY.
A. Three times his donkey tries to avoid the angel. Num. 22:23-
B. God causes the donkey to speak. Num. 22:28-30
1. I find this rather amusing.
a. Evidently Balaam is so wrapped up in his anger that
he doesn't realize that he was talking with a donkey.
b. When a donkey starts talking to us, we need to
recognize that something strange is going on!
c. Radio commentator Paul Harvey tells of an
experiment involving a young chimpanzee who
would always try to slip out of his cage when the
door was opened. Scientists thought this young
chimp was very intelligent, so far as chimps go, and
was a good specimen to teach communication skills.
For fourteen years, project directors labored
diligently and patiently with this chimpanzee,
providing things in its cage to enable it to form
certain syllables. Finally the day arrived when it
seemed that the chimpanzee was actually going to
construct a sentence from the symbols it had been
learning. Word went out, and other scientists
crowded into the room and gathered around the
cage. At last, the first message from the world's
most pampered, most cared for, most patiently
trained chimpanzee was about to come forth.
Millions of dollars had been spent on this project.
The scientists could hardly contain themselves as
they pressed around the cage. They watched
breathlessly as symbols were formed into words and
into a sentence. The chimpanzee said, "I want out!"
C. The angel gives instructions to Balaam. Num. 22:31-35
1. Balaam tells Balak that he will speak only the Word of
God. Num. 22:36-38
IV. IN THE NEXT TWO CHAPTERS, BALAAM THREE TIMES BLESSES ISRAEL
INSTEAD OF CURSING THEM.
A. Balak becomes angry with Balaam and sends him away
without a reward. Num. 24:10-14
B. From all of this, it might appear that Balaam wasn't such a
bad character after all.
1. However, this is not the end of the story.
V. BALAAM TEACHES BALAK HOW TO PUT A STUMBLING BLOCK BEFORE ISRAEL.
A. Numbers 25:1-9 immediately follows the story of Balaam.
1. Balaam knew that the way to cause God to curse Israel
was to get them to sin.
2. Balaam tried to turn God away from his people and
failed. Deut. 23:3-5; Joshua 24:9-10
3. However, he was successful in turning the people away
4. When Israel sinned at Peor, God sent a plague, killing
B. Later, when there was war with the Midianites, Balaam was
also killed with the sword. Num. 31:8-16
1. Notice that it was "through the counsel of Balaam" that
these women caused Israel to sin. Vs. 16
C. Never under any circumstances should we teach or encourage
others to do wrong.
1. We should never encourage or condone anyone in doing
something we would not do ourselves.
VI. BALAAM DID NOT PRACTICE WHAT HE PREACHED.
A. Not once was Balaam labeled a "false prophet."
1. He was a prophet of God and revealed the mind of God.
2. His problem was that he didn't live up to his own words.
B. He made several good statements, but didn't follow any of
1. Numbers 22:18-19 - The love of money is the root of all
evil. 1 Tim. 6:10
2. Numbers 22:38 - If anyone speaks, let him speak as the
oracles of God. 1 Pet. 4:11
3. Numbers 23:10b - This should be our goal. Rev. 14:13
C. Remember the Lord's words against the scribes and
Pharisees. Matt. 23:2-3
1. Let us first remove the beams out of our own eyes, and
then we can help others.
A. We can learn from the life of Balaam.
1. We need to be on guard against internal corruption. It is
that subtle internal contamination that will destroy us.
2. We need awesome respect for what God says. If God
has revealed Himself on a matter, let us accept it as is,
and do not "seek what more the Lord has to say."
3. We should never teach, condone, or encourage others in
4. We need to speak forth words of truth and abide in them.