Balaam had been a prophet of God, and a good man; but he apostatized, and gave himself up to covetousness, so that he loved the wages of unrighteousness. At the time Balak sent messengers for him, he was double-minded, pursuing a course to gain and retain the favor and honor of the enemies of the Lord, for the sake of rewards that he received from them. At the same time, he was  professing to be a prophet of God. Idolatrous nations believed that curses might be uttered which would affect individuals, and even whole nations. As the messengers related their errand to Balaam, he very well knew what answer to give them; but he asked them to tarry that night, and he would bring them word as the Lord should speak unto him. The presents in the hands of the men excited his covetous disposition. God came to Balaam in the night, through one of his angels, and inquired of him, What men are these with thee? "And Balaam said unto God, Balak, the son of Zippor, king of Moab, hath sent unto me, saying, Behold, there is a people come out of Egypt, which covereth the face of the earth. Come, now, curse me them; peradventure I shall be able to overcome them, and drive them out. And God said unto Balaam, Thou shalt not go with them. Thou shalt not curse the people; for they are blessed." The angel tells Balaam that the children of Israel are conducted under the banner of the God of Heaven, and that no curse from man could retard their progress. In the morning, he arose and reluctantly told the men to return to Balak, for the Lord                        would not suffer him to go with them. Then Balak sent other princes, more of them in number, and more honorable, or occupying a more exalted position than the former messengers; and this time Balak's call was more urgent: "Let nothing, I pray thee, hinder thee from coming unto me; for I will promote thee unto very great honor, and I will do whatsoever thou sayest unto me. Come, therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people. And Balaam answered and said unto the servants of Balak, If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more."

         His fear of God's power holds the ascendancy over his covetous disposition; yet his course of conduct shows that his love of honor and gain was striving hard for the mastery, and he did not subdue it. He would have gratified his covetousness, if he had dared to do it. After God had said that he should not go, he was anxious to be granted the privilege of going. He urged them to remain that night, that he might make inquiry again of God. An angel was sent to Balaam to say unto him, "If the men come to call thee,  rise up, and go with them; but yet the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do." The Lord suffered Balaam to follow his own inclinations, and try, if he choose so to do, to please both God and Man.

        The messengers of Balak did not call upon him in the morning to have him go with them. They were annoyed with his delay, and expected a second refusal. Balaam could have excused himself, and easily avoided going; but he thought that because the Lord the second time did not forbid his going, he would go and overtake the ambassadors of Balak. The anger of the Lord was kindled against Balaam because he went; and he sent his angel to stand in the way, and to slay him for his presumptuous folly. The beast saw the angel of the Lord, and turned aside. Balaam was beside himself with rage. The speaking of the beast was unnoticed by him as anything remarkable, for he was blinded by passion. As the angel revealed himself to Balaam, he was terrified, and left his beast and bowed in humility before the angel. He related to Balaam the word of the Lord, and said, "I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before me." It was important to Israel to overcome the Moabites, in order to overcome the inhabitants of Canaan. After the angel had impressively warned Balaam against gratifying the Moabites, he gave him permission to pursue his journey. God would glorify  his name, even through the presumptuous Balaam, before the enemies of Israel. This could not be done in a more effectual manner than by showing them that a man of Balaam's covetous disposition dared not, for any promises of promotion or rewards, pronounce a curse against Israel.

         Balak met Balaam, and inquired of him why he thus delayed to come when he sent for him; and told him that he had power to promote him to honor. Balaam answered, Lo, I am come unto thee. He then told him that he had no power to say anything. The word that God should give him, that could he speak, and could go no further. Balaam ordered the sacrifices according to the religious rites. God sent his angel to meet with Balaam, to give him words of utterance, as he had done on occasions when Balaam was wholly devoted to the service of God. "And the Lord put a word in Balaam's mouth, and said, Return unto Balak, and thus thou shalt speak. And he returned unto him, and, lo, he stood by his burnt sacrifice, he, and all the princes of Moab. And he took up his parable, and said, Balak, the king of Moab, hath brought me from Aram, out of the mountains of the east, saying, Come, curse me Jacob, and come, defy Israel. How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed? or how shall I defy, whom the Lord hath not defied? For from the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him. Lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations. Who can count the dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!"

The Spirit of Prophecy

Volume One  P 320-323





     Not only was Balaam shown the history of the Hebrew people as a nation, but he beheld the increase and prosperity of the true Israel of God to the close of time. He saw the special favor of the Most High attending those who love and fear Him. He saw them supported by His arm as they enter the dark valley of the shadow of death. And he beheld them coming forth from their graves, crowned with glory, honor, and immortality. He saw the redeemed rejoicing in the unfading glories of the earth made new. Gazing upon the scene, he exclaimed, "Who can count the dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel?" And as he saw the crown of glory on every brow, the joy beaming from every countenance, and looked forward to that endless life of unalloyed happiness, he uttered the solemn prayer, "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!"

Patriarchs and Prophets  

P 447