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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder


2 Peter 2:15-16 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; but was rebuked for his iniquity; the dumb ass, speaking with a man's voice, forbade the madness of the prophet.

The subject of the message to Christians, found in 2 Peter, Chapter 2, is false teachers. In the lesson text, Peter says they have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray. To reinforce the serious nature of this subject, Peter uses the example of Balaam to help us understand the warning of his inspired message. The iniquity, or the sin, of Balaam was that he loved the wages of unrighteousness. Peter tells us that false prophets (false preachers and teachers) follow the way of Balaam,and they, too, are driven by the desire for the wages of unrighteousness. By Satan's design, sin is often rewarded with worldly gain.

Other than identifying his father as Bosar,Peter tells us little else about Balaam. However, we find practically the complete story of Balaam in Numbers, Chapters 22, 23, and 24, with additional references made in a few other Old Testament books. In the New Testament, Balaam is noted in 2 Peter, Jude, and Revelations. The following is a summary of these passages. In the latter years of Israel's journey from Egypt to the Promised Land, they were encamped on the east side of the Jordan River, in the plains of Moab. Balak was king of the Moabites, and he formed an alliance with the Midianites, who also lived in the same area, to war against Israel. Balaam was a soothsayer, according to Joshua 13:22. He was probably a false prophet of Baal, since this was the common religious belief in the area. His "prophetic" services were for hire. Balaam was sought out and was paid well by Balak to curse Israel in order that the Moabites and Midianites could be victorious, and successfully defeat Israel. However, God intervened and would not allow Balaam to curse Israel, but, instead, God caused him to bless them. Two additional times, Balak paid Balaam to curse Israel, but each time God caused Israel to receive a blessing.

Although the Moabites and Midianites were unable to defeat Israel with warfare, it is evident that Balaam did tell Balak how Israel could be defeated. In Revelation 2:14 we find that Balaam's advice to Balak was to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. This tactic was tragically, but successfully, carried out with the following result as noted in Numbers 25:1-3, which says, And Israel abode in Shittim and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods; and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods. And Israel joined himself unto Baal-Peor; and the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel. This sin of Israel was the direct result of the counsel of Balaam (Num. 31:16). However, under the leadership of Moses, the armies of Israel were reestablished and finally defeated the Moabites and Midianites, including Balaam, whom they slew with the sword (Num. 31:8).

In the lesson text, Peter tells us that false teachers have adopted the same method of teaching used by Balaam. Driven by covetousness, the way of Balaam, that is, his manner of teaching designed to attract a following, was to deceive God's people by appealing to their human, sensual desires. When this happened, and it often did - when Israel sacrificed the morality God requires, as taught in His \Holy Word, they were always easily led astray. The way of Balaam was successful in the days of Moses. It is equally successful today, and is readily adopted by false teachers that, like Balaam, love the wages of unrighteousness.

The word "way" refers to a highway, a road, a path, or any other word used to describe a route leading from one place to another. However, in a spiritual sense, notice how it is used in Psalm 1, verse 6, for the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish. In this passage "way" can either be the route one can travel in life here on earth that leads either to Heaven or to Hell. Following false teachers, we will find a wide gate leading to a way that is broad. Unfortunately, it leads to destruction. Those that follow the teaching and the will of God will be few, because the gate is strait, and the way is narrow, but the promise of heaven awaits those completing its journey (Mat. 7:13-14).

We are warned to carefully choose who you follow. Avoid teachers following the way of Balaam that appeals to carnal, sensual pleasures. Chose teachers that uphold the doctrine of God. They will help us find the way of salvation.