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  • William T. Howe Ph.D.

February 21, 2024

Read to Read …Again


Daily Reading:  Numbers   23-25

 

Numbers 24:3

And he took up his parable, and said, Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open hath said:

 

Balaam. His story is a cautionary tale of faith mixed with covetousness. On one hand this man spoke some of the most beautiful and well-intentioned words about Israel as can be found in all of Scripture. On the other hand, his heart was filled with desire for wealth and position. He tried for both, God and mammon. He came up short on both. His life ended without fanfare. In fact, he was killed in a general massacre at the hand of Israelites during their war with the Midianites (Numbers 31:8).

 

His ministry, for lack of a better word, is summed up in two succinct New Testament passages. 2 Peter 2:15 Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; Jude 1:11 Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. Balaam’s name will forever be linked to greed just as Judas Iscariot’s is linked with betrayal.

 

Jesus struck a knockout punch to those who think it is possible to serve both God and money when He unabashedly stated: …Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Many have tried and failed. The sad thing is this, God opened Balaam’s eyes to his great error yet he did not see. Remember back in Numbers 22 how the Lord empowered this misguided prophet’s donkey to talk to him? Remember how the Lord opened his eyes so he could see the angel of death, with sword drawn waiting for him to pass by? Remember how Balaam bowed down, admitted his sin, and was so contrite? Yet he continued on. His eyes were opened to his pitiful plight, but he continued on in his sin. Yes, the angel, even the Lord gave him permission to continue, only to prove the point my mother taught me years ago. She said, “Be careful what you wish for, the Lord might just give it to you.”  How right she was, Balaam’s story illustrates this warning perfectly.

 

Balaam knew not to go with Balak’s ambassadors, he knew it. Yet he went anyway. Even when his eyes were opened, he continued. As a fool to the slaughter, he continued down his path of unrighteousness. May we be wise enough to learn from his cautionary tale. Find out what is right (Biblically right), do what is right, and resist the temptations of the Balak’s. For as sure as the sun will rise in the eastern sky tomorrow, the Balak’s will be there with their promises of wealth, power, and position. Try as we might, serving God and serving mammon is impossible. For as Jesus said it like this in Luke 16:13. No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Balaam’s eyes being opened was not enough, perhaps he should have opened his heart instead.

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