233 – Balaam’s End
The Biblical narrative of Balaam is found between chapters 22 and 24 of the book of Numbers. Although the theme of the narrative is certainly not Balaam, he is probably the main human character in these few chapters. Numbers 24:15-24 detail Balaam’s fourth and final prophecy. Let’s consider the last verse of Numbers chapter 24.
25 So Balaam rose and departed and returned to his place; Balak also went his way.
Maybe someone is thinking, “Mark, if you are going to spend any time on this innocuous verse this may very well be the most boring article you have ever written!”
I promise I won’t look up any source language words from this verse and I will not do any deep dives for sunken treasure. Balaam went home. Balak went home. What more could be considered in this verse? Maybe nothing “in” the verse, but I want to pause and think “about” the purpose for the verse, beyond telling us where Balaam and Balak went.
Verse 25 is used by the author to signal an end to the narrative where Balaam and Balak were the actors. I’ll pass on discussing Balak further – after all the name of the article is “Balaam’s End”, and not “Balak’s End”. However, even though verse 25 signals the end of the narrative that includes Balaam, it is certainly not all Yahweh wants us to know about him. There are other scriptural references that fill in some details excluded by Numbers 22-25.
Look at the very next verse.
Now Israel remained in Acacia Grove, and the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab.
Numbers 24:25 and 25:1 are chronological, but are they connected? Yes. The first word, “now” clues us. Putting “now” aside however, If we just continue to read through Numbers verse by verse we wouldn’t know they were connected until we hit the 31st chapter.
Before I show you how 24:25 and 25:1 are connected a spoiler alert!
8 They killed the kings of Midian with the rest of those who were killed—Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba, the five kings of Midian. Balaam the son of Beor they also killed with the sword.
Obviously, Balaam did not end up on good terms with Yahweh God. Israel killed him.
Ok, so now to the question, “how are Numbers 24:25 and 25:1 connected?”
The answer is they are connected with the invisible stuff between them. That invisible stuff is revealed in Numbers 31:16.
16 Look, these women caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against the LORD in the incident of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD.
If you go back and read Numbers chapter 25, you’ll see specifically what this verse is referencing.
Even though Numbers 25:24 seems to be the last we hear from Balaam there are 8 more Old Testament references, and 3 New Testament references about him, none of which are flattering.
It wouldn’t be practical to reproduce all of the subsequent Old and New Testament references, but I thought it prudent to include the 3 New Testament references. They seem to summarize Balaam’s motivation and the reason for his tragic end quite succinctly.
2 Peter 2:15
15 They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;
11 Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.
14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.
If you doubted me before when I said that Balaam was not a prophet of God, you should see it clearly now.
Considering these references to Balaam causes me to conclude it is not wise to defy the living God. No one has ever won a contest against Him. Not a seer, no so-called prophet, or King. No cult leader, no atheist or agnostic. History, both biblical and secular is replete with instances of people who have fought with God and lost.
Before you dismiss what I’m saying as simply an Old Testament, and therefore obsolete truth, remember the three verses in the New Testament. They have clearly been brought forward and demonstrated as still relevant. Besides, Old Testament truth is NEVER obsolete, but that’s for another study.
Whether sinner or saint, let me encourage you to stop resisting God and His will. Submit to Him and enjoy a right relationship with Him. Yahweh God truly is good.
8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
All Scripture quotations from The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982. Print.