From: The Preacher
1. The Uncommon Prophet
Like the lone lamp in the night, to which insect populations merrily flocked, Balaam was an internationally famed Old Testament prophet of God with a busy traffic of willing clients. He was a man so endowed that God and angels spoke with him freely and often. We might say that he had a hot line with Heaven. Unlike some of us, he did not need to go to asleep before God could get his attention in a dream or some other revelation. Like the clearness of a smooth mirror, he saw visions with his natural eyes open (Numbers 23:3-4). Unfortunately, this great prophet got seduced by his kingly clientele, by the material privileges that his office brought. He met one king the encounter with whom veered his path forever from the divine, until his name became a regrettable eternal metaphor for greed, for mercantile priesthood, for ministry that served the belly (2 Peter 2:15; Jude 1:11). His kind has not been uncommon in every generation.
2. Oblivious Drifts
Like an anchorless log on the sea, Balaam drifted slowly off, and sadly did not seem to care that he was getting far from shore. First, he forsook “the right way” – there’s always a right way; a right way to do things. Next, he went “astray,” lured by what he loved – “the wages of unrighteousness” (2 Peter 2:15). That is as the Scripture says: “Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness.”
The one often leads to the other – forsaking the right way, then going astray, but who dared to tell such a great preacher that he had strayed? Which lesser mortal dared say to such an opened-eyed prophet unto kings and nations, that Heaven thought differently of him than his ever-increasing and ever-applauding noble clients did? He was involved in no obvious idol worship. He was no adulterer. He was just a famous busy traveling preacher, being invited by kings and other nobles for ‘special ministrations.’ Which underling donkey would have had the audacity to confront such a self-excusing man with the sore indictment from Heaven? The first donkey that tried it had it very rough (Numbers 22:22-34). Alas, can a mighty prophet be so blind to what is so plain even to dumb donkeys! Could the sword have been so close, and the prophet did not know!
Can a man who prophesies to others be in such an error and yet not know it for himself? Could one who so clearly heard God and angels on other matters, even for nations, have shut the eyes and ears to such a rebuke from Heaven? Does everyone always know that they have strayed when they have strayed? Can a mighty Samson who always enjoyed the awesome anointing of God be so unaware when that blessed Presence tragically departs (Judges 16:20)?
3. They have Gone
While they sing our songs and take an honoured place on our podiums, according to Jude, “they have gone” (Jude 1:11). They are with us in body but no more in spirit. They have our titles but not our character. The drift did not start today but since, and now, already, “they have gone.” Where are they headed? Where are they gone to?
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