Paul wrote the Romans that throughout history the fingerprints of God had been evident. Despite this being so, one translation concludes that “although they knew God, they did not honor Him or give thanks.” The result was those with a knowledge of God “becoming futile in their reasoning as their senseless hearts were darkened.”
No doubt falling into this category is the man Scripture refers to as a prophet, Balaam. Clearly he heard from God. There is no question that he had a grasp of the heart of God and of God’s ways; with the recognition of the recently delivered Israelites being God’s chosen, not to speak of the usurping insight he ultimately gave Balak to undermine them.
Paul’s description of such ones follows with “claiming to be wise, they became fools.” The Passion Translation is even more graphic: that in thinking of themselves to be super-intelligent, in reality they were simply shallow fools. It is the snare and madness of those whose superficial knowledge of God deceives and blinds them in their failure to act with honor or gratefulness. It also reflects those who in facing a change of seasons, resist in embracing the appropriate response to God and to His people for the new season.
So, what transpired centuries prior with this prophet-for-hire not only bled into the significant insights that Paul wrote to the Romans, but it continued as a dynamic mentioned by Jude, Peter (who referred to Balaam’s madness) and from the words of correction given to John the Revelator by the resurrected Jesus for the Church at Pergamum.
It is therefore instructive for us to examine the dynamics that bear on this chink in the armor today, among both the gifted prophetically and those vulnerable to the subtleties of following the pattern of Balaam in the misuse of their gifts for gain.
Being Wrong When You’re Right
Walking out the path of spiritual truths can be subtle, with fine-line distinctions. Jesus emphasized the reality of the narrow corridor represented by the Kingdom pathway. One of the deeper words of correction the Lord has ever spoken to me during my formative spiritual years was to ask if I understood that I could be wrong when I was right and right when I was wrong. In other words, a person’s strength can be their weakness and vice versa; a truth that significantly impacts our thinking. It was a word bearing on guarding against myopic thinking that spiritually can blind us from seeing the forest for the trees.
Providing an element of context to the foolishness of Balaam that is still at play in the hearts of ones who know God today, is a piece I penned while in prayer twenty-five years ago. It followed the funeral of one of my daughters, 30 years old at the time, a mother of two and a ministry administrator, who had been murdered.
In crying out to the Lord in my grief I had an awareness that focus given to questions of “if only” or “what if” would be fruitless, bottomless pits. Because of that, as a serious intercessor, I asked the Lord to give me an understanding of the dynamics that had been at work in the spiritual atmosphere surrounding her murder. What resulted was a SIGN post entitled “Misguided Tongues,” a piece I consider one of the more profound insights I have been entrusted to pen for SIGN.
At the core of this message was the enemy’s strategy to harness the anointing by means of the deceit required to trigger loose, misguided tongues among those anointed for leadership ministry service. From this context, we can glean much from a closer look at Balaam’s misguided madness.
Searching Out the Hard Answers
More recently, prompting me to seek answers from the Lord was again another disturbing, what I considered a premature death of someone I was close to. This was a very trusted friend, a man wholly committed to the Lord. As I have prayed, since his unexpected death, I was not able to get away from the discernment that something had been wrong ….with the perception of it being tied to an influence that had misguided him into crossing a fine line.
The fact is that the bar has been raised, that the spiritual environment now operating around us is far more deadly than what it had been less than a handful of years ago. Failing to recognize quantum changes like this can put, as the words of Jesus point out “even the very elect,” into dangerous situations and pathways.
As I prayed, I began realizing that the answer I sought involved distinctive, yet subtle issues. Then one morning, deeply immersed in prayer I received a strong word of knowledge to go back to the scripture and take a closer look at the encounter Balaam had with the angel of the Lord.
My intention has in no way been to cast aspersion on my friend’s memory, as I consider him a man with a pure heart. I believe he became a casualty in spiritual interactions I had not been privy to. In facing the realities of this season, the need bodes for of all us to recognize the bar being raised and the associated adjustments required, with both our practices and relationships, as we seriously engage spiritually in this new season.
If anything, I think my conclusion concerning my friend’s untimely demise was that it was the result of reckless influence(s)/ advice … with him then being blind-sided/ ambushed … becoming a casualty of this toxic, turbulent season. With the focus of my writings targeting leaders, prophetic-types and intercessors, grasping this sobering truth, has represented a foundation for embracing this higher standard as the Lord sets the stage for the focus we each give to this tumultuous season now upon us.
The Spirit of Balaam
Balaam is one of those mysterious Biblical characters that don’t fit the mold; for whom we have only been given glimmers. These are people of faith drawn from within wicked settings who knew God during ancient times of great spiritual turmoil. We know more about the ones whose lives brought about God’s intended results: Enoch, Job, Noah, Abraham.
These were ones who walked in the supernatural, whose association with the Lord carried implications of interacting with the angelic, whose walk with God was recognized by the world around them. The world in those times was one that embraced and regularly interacted with the supernatural; with the response in recognizing the Lord’s overriding power tending to evoke the fear of God.
Understanding the Spirit of Balaam and these early pioneers of faith, was the implication that with His power which they wielded came God’s protection, again recognized by the people of the world. So when Job’s friends belittled him, mistakenly believing that his tribulations were a loss of his protection, the word of God indicates that their misguided words of accusation provoked God’s anger, which was only diffused by Job praying for them.
Again, Scripture labels Balaam as a prophet, and not unlike Enoch, Job and Noah, a non-Israelite. Balaam in reality knew God and His ways. He had access to the secret things of God along with knowing what was important to the heart of God. In his earlier encounters he responded with honor to who God was and His authority. In his interactions with Balak, he steadfastly pointed out that he could only do what God told him in response to Balak’s desire to curse the Israelites.
The inference from the verses describing Balaam is that God used him for His purposes … until Balaam’s persistence in establishing an alliance with Balak, King of Moab, who was in dread of God’s protection over the Israelites, triggered God’s anger with His angel being sent to take him out. Interesting, that the angel was sent for Balaam and not Balak.
However, Balaam prevailed and ultimately did misuse his gift; doing so for personal gain in return for giving Balak the strategy, revealing the weakness which caused the community of Israel to sin, undermining God’s protection.
The Fine Line
The pointed explanation is that the anointing/ prayer/ the prophetic is sacred and not something to be merchandized. Again, we’re talking about fine-line issues ….as Scripture clearly supports a workman being worthy of their hire. However, the story of Balaam and his encounter with the angel of the Lord makes it very clear that there are areas that wisdom strongly points out in terms of them not to be tapped by those seeking to benefit by means of the anointing/ prayer/ the prophetic.
Perhaps the underlying, hidden clue with Balaam’s misuse of the anointing was linked to the strategy he outlined in Israel’s transgression … of deceit and seduction. What ultimately resulted for Balaam seemed poetic justice and clearly the result of the loss of God’s protection over him, as he later died by an Israeli sword as he was a part of Midianites who died during the tribe of Reuben’s occupation of Moabite lands.
Giving insight to the sacred nature of God’s secret places, both Daniel and John the Revelator were given insight into the time of the end, but told there were matters that were to be sealed up until the appropriate times. Despite his awareness of being on shaky ground, along with his close encounter with the Angel of the Lord, Balaam persisted and crossed the line. It punctuates the wisdom we need in recognizing that the glimpses we get into the spirit realm are not to be treated frivolously. Maturity within those operating as intercessors is discerning what is given strictly for intercession and what can be shared.
The Progressive Response to the Season
Jesus pointed to our day when He drew a parallel to it in being “just as in the days of Noah.” As God’s Messiah, Jesus was pointing to the need to not just discern, but to the need to respond appropriately to the progressive timetable of the season. Ezekiel the prophet captured a key dimension of the line crossed by the madness of Balaam when he prophesied: “I will turn My face from them when they profane My secret place. Thieves have profaned My secret place.” Ezek 7:22
The fine-line distinction of our response to the insights we receive from on-high and the times pointed to by Jesus is made clear by Daniel, who drew Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon into acknowledging the Lord; but pronounced dire judgment on his son, Belshazzar known as King of the Chaldeans, when he crossed the line of Ezekiel’s prophesy.
“Then Daniel answered the king: Let your gifts be for yourself. Give your rewards to another. Yet I will make known the interpretation, O king. The Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father a kingdom and majesty, glory and honor. Because of the majesty that He gave him, all peoples, nations and languages trembled and feared before him. But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne and driven from the sons of men; his heart was made like beasts and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys, till he knew that the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men and appoints over it whomever He chooses.” Dan 5:17-21
In responding to the requirements of the season we are no longer children playing with new toys. The bar has been raised. It is not unlike the difference reflected in basic military training and when the realities of combat are being faced.
“Claiming to be wise, they became fools.” Whether it was Balaam or Ahab or Belshazzar or even Judas, their short-sighted transgressions encompassed a spiritual and emotional immaturity that crossed the line, capitalizing on insights drawn from God’s secret place with each stubbornly resisting the changes they should have embraced in their response to the evolving seasons.
When Solomon said there is nothing new under the sun, his insight tapped the very thing Jesus was pointing to with the return of the dynamics as they had been in the days of Noah. In other words, what is required is recognizing God’s hand in this age-old process of restoration … noting that what comes around will be found to have precedent as we approach the climax of all ages.
Paul warned Timothy about the plague of Balaam’s madness from within the community of faith: “Know this, that in the last days perilous times will come. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disrespectful and disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, treacherous, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. From such people, turn away!” 2 Tim 3:1-5
Balaam’s madness, the idols in his mind, his penchant for manipulation and soft-spot for the lure of Balak’s offerings of treasures and honor, blinded him. Rather than sharing a place in history with Enoch, Job and Noah, his track record, noted by New Testament writers was that of his wicked actions in his misuse of the insights he drew from the secret place of God’s presence, being enticed by the wages of unrighteousness.
Balaam discerned the heart of God, yet never fully embraced it; claiming to be wise, he became a fool. As he progressed and matured through the seasons of his life, the underlying motivation manifesting was his own gain and in serving his own interests. Which is the corollary of the distinction which defines the remnant in this season.
The other side of the insights into the Balaam spirit are those it attracts …. those who want the instant microwave benefits of God without the personal responsibility it entails. Yet the ones the Lord is seeking for this hour are those willing to graduate from the maturity-level of spoon-fed milk into the meat in intimately knowing Him themselves.
From the beginning those God has sought have been those willing to pay the cost. That cost begins with the discernment of knowing the distinction between those who serve God and those who do not.
The Distinction between Those Who Serve God and Those Who Do Not
The message of the Book of Malachi came at a significant change in season, with the return from exile. Not unlike the message to the Laodicean Church in Revelation it addressed the laxness of the leadership, accompanied by the lukewarmness of the faith of the people in resisting the change required by the new season. Each gave sharp focus to the misguided responses to the Lord and to one another. They target our purpose in God, which is tied to His role in terms of the availability of His power and His protection.
There is no doubt that Moses understood that distinction, when following the dramatic crossing of the Red Sea, he cried out to the Lord: “If Your presence will not go with us, do not bring us up from here. For how will it be known that we have found favor in Your sight. Is it not in Your going with us that we are distinct from every other people on the face of the earth?” Ex 33:15
Malachi stressed the importance of the fear of the Lord in discerning this distinction between those who serve God and those who do not. That distinction similarly marked the difference between the righteous and those deemed as wicked from within the leadership of the household of faith.
Among those in Scripture whose lives reflected the greatest examples in embracing the changes in seasons was David, whose extreme range of responses to the challenges and temptations of life covered the gamut. His insights in Psalm 15 illuminate the distinction between those who serve God and those who do not.
“Who may abide in Your tent and who may dwell in Your holy hill. He who walks with integrity and works righteousness. Who speaks truth in his heart. Who does not slander with his tongue nor does evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend. In whose eyes a reprobate is despised, but who honors those who fear the Lord. Who swears to his own hurt and does not change. Who does not put out his money in usury, nor takes up a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken.” Ps 15
Adding to the insights of this distinction was Job, who faced an abrupt change of seasons that included a harsh transition. His experience unlocks a glimpse into the spiritual dynamics of the opportunity that Balaam failed to discern due to his blinded heart.
“They draw near to the pit and their life to the messengers of death. Yet if there is an angel at their side, a mediator sent to tell them how to be upright, and he is gracious to that person and says to God, ‘Spare them from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom for them: their flesh be renewed like a child’s; let them be restored as in the days of their youth.’ Then that person can pray to God and find favor with him, they will see God’s face and shout for joy; he will restore them to full well-being. They will go to others and say, ‘I have sinned, I have perverted what is right, but I did not get what I deserved. God has delivered me from going down to the pit and I shall live to enjoy the light of life. God does all these things to a person—twice, even three times — to turn them back from the pit that the light of life may shine on them.” Job 33:22-30
So it has been written: “Claiming to be wise, they became fools.” Woe! Judgment is coming to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight. The distinction is one in the humility and trust of recognizing that God’s ways are always higher than ours … as we traverse the pathways and changes of seasons. The focus of leaders, intercessors and prophets in this hour should be with the simplicity expressed by Paul: “Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Messiah and stewards of the mysteries of God.” 1 Cor 4:1
So it shall be for those with the humility and discernment to recognize the Spirit’s process of restoration, that our fast-approaching expectation will follow the pattern of those Isaiah instructed with the proverb against the king of Babylon:
“It shall come to pass in the day the LORD gives you rest from your sorrow, and from your fear and the hard bondage in which you were made to serve, that you will take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, saying: ‘How the oppressor has ceased, the golden city ceased!’ The LORD has broken the staff of the wicked, the scepter of the rulers who have struck the people in wrath with a continual stroke, who have ruled the nations in anger is persecuted and no one hinders. The whole earth is at rest and quiet; they break forth into singing. Indeed the cypress trees rejoice over you, with the cedars of Lebanon, saying, ‘Since you were cut down, no woodsman has come up against us.’” Isa 14:3-8
Morris Ruddick has been a forerunner and voice for the higher dimensions of spiritual game-changers and intercessors since the mid-90s. As founder of Global Initiatives Foundation and designer of the God’s Economy Entrepreneurial Equippers Program and the Jewish Business Secrets YouTube series, Mr. Ruddick equips economic community builders with strategy where God’s light is dim in diverse regions around the globe.
He is author of “The Joseph-Daniel Calling;” “Gods Economy, Israel and the Nations;” “The Heart of a King;” “Something More;” “Righteous Power in a Corrupt World;” “Leadership by Anointing;” and “Mantle of Fire,” which address the mobilization of business and governmental leaders with destinies to impact their communities. They are available in print and e-versions from www.Amazon.com, www.apple.com/ibooks and www.BarnesandNoble.com.
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