The Balaam Strategy Then and Now

Publication: Pastoral Letter, October 2012

Dear Friend in Christ:

My purpose in this letter is to help us comprehend the enemy’s method of short-circuiting our relationship to God and His purpose in our lives, and help us to regain or maintain focus. To understand this principle, I will examine the story of Balaam, a false prophet, and how he affected the people of God, and how his method still works. I am surprised at how often the Scriptures remind us of this story and warns us to remember it (see Revelation 2:14). References to Balaam can be found in ten books of the Bible.

This letter can only provide a brief look at the story, but I encourage you to read Numbers 22-25. Israel was on a journey in the purpose of God, as we are today. On the way to Canaan, they camped near the Moabites. Israel was massive in size (millions of people), and had already defeated the Amalakites; their presence brought fear to Moab. Moabites were the immoral worshippers of Baal who had descended from an incestuous relationship between Lot (Abraham’s nephew), and one of his daughters. The Moabites worshipped Baal, god of fertility. Prostitution was part of their “worship”.

Balak was king of the Moabites and in his fear, he called for Balaam to come curse Israel. Balaam was from Mesopotamia, and was well known for his insights and revelations. Mesopotamia was quite a distance, probably in modern day Iraq. So he was famous among the Middle Eastern people.

The Lord warned him not to go, but the bid from Balak grew higher, so he eventually decided to go. As he rode his donkey toward Moab, the Angel of the Lord appeared to the donkey-and only to the donkey-and the frightened donkey veered off the path, much to Balaam’s frustration. Then the donkey ran into a wall injuring Balaam, and finally, the donkey just laid down. Balaam began to beat the donkey, and then, amazingly, the donkey spoke to Balaam, saying, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me?” I find it amusing that Balaam didn’t even pause to consider that his donkey had just spoken to him, but instead, he argued with the donkey! Finally, the Lord revealed Himself to Balaam and again warned him to say only what the Lord would give him.

When Balaam arrived in Moab, met with Balak, and viewed Israel, he could not curse what God had blessed. Balaam tried four times but each time blessed Israel. Those prophesies should be studied and they are amazing. Of course, this made Balak angry for many reasons; he had paid Balaam well to have Israel cursed, but instead they were blessed. However, Balaam earned his fee another way; an insidious way.

What Balaam did was to give Balak advice on how to get God angry at Israel. He advised Balak to invite the visiting Israelites to their feast of Baal and have the sensual Moabite women to mingle with the men of Israel. This was done with tragic results; 24,000 of Israel’s men committed sins of idolatry, including sexual and spiritual adultery, and they were killed.

Balaam understood something that we fail to understand; if the enemy can discover what anyone wants more than to obey God, they can be defeated by seduction. Though Balaam had great insights and power and wealth, he was also beguiled by those very things. His motives took him beyond the purpose of God and he was later killed.

Of course, it was not simply Balaam’s strategy, it was Satan’s strategy. And he has employed it throughout history. He looks for a motive or desire that can take us out of our ordained purpose-our journey-and bring us the disfavor of our God.

Samson is another case in point. He was foretold by an angel, and became a Nazarite who was set apart for the Lord. As marks of his purpose, he did not drink wine or cut his hair. But he saw a Philistine woman to whom he was attracted, against his parents’ wishes. His involvement with her became a conflict with the Philistines. At one point, Samson killed a thousand of the enemy; he was anointed, powerful, and feared.

Then Samson met Delilah who managed to get Samson to give her his secret-his long hair that symbolized his covenant with God and his purpose for living. Delilah betrayed Samson to his enemies. He was captured, blinded, and put to hard labor grinding grain. But after awhile, his hair grew back and when he was brought for sport into the temple of Dagon, he pulled down the pillars and killed himself and three thousand Philistines. He is numbered among the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11, but he went through an awful ordeal, because he lost sight of his mission.

Of course, we all know the story of David, the anointed shepherd-king of Israel. Jerusalem is called “The City of David,” Jesus is called “The Son of David.” David, killed a lion, a bear, and a giant. He expanded the territory of Israel and prepared for the temple, but he lost sight of his purpose and set his eyes on Bathsheba. Then he sent her husband to the front lines of battle where he was killed. The sword never left David’s house.

What the Moabites could not do to Israel, what the Philistines could not do to Samson, what the enemies could not do to David, they did to themselves.

Then there is Gehazi, Elisha’s servant (see 2 Kings 5). He was in line to be “the next Elisha.” Elisha had served Elijah and received his mantle; now Gehazi served Elisha and must have thought that Elisha’s mantle would fall to him. But something happened. Naaman, commander of Syria’s army, got leprosy. He heard that there was a prophet in Israel that could heal him and went to visit Elisha, bringing numerous gifts of clothes and gold. Elisha refused the gifts and sent mighty Naaman to dip seven times in muddy Jordan where he was healed. Elisha still refused the gifts, but when Naaman left, Gehazi ran after him and asked for gifts, which he received from grateful Naaman. But there was a problem; Elisha knew. Gehazi not only got Naaman’s gifts; he got Naaman’s leprosy.

If the enemy can discover what we want more than we want God’s will, he will offer it. He will offer anything to get us off his back: sex, money, or power.

Acts Chapter 8 describes the events in Samaria when Philip led many to Christ and then the apostles came and laid hands upon them and they were filled with the Holy Spirit. It was a great revival, fulfilling part of Jesus’ prophecy in Acts 1:8.

There was a man named Simon in Samaria who had a great following due to his sorcery. He must have had an evil gift. At the apostles visit, he saw a great power-the power of the Holy Spirit-and Simon was losing his following. He offered the apostles money to give him that power to lay hands on others who could receive the Holy Spirit. Amazingly, he had believed on Christ and had been baptized, but his heart was not right. Yes, Christians can become victims of Balaam’s strategy.

The apostles, unlike Balaam or Gehazi, refused the gift and warned him that he and his money would perish. Simon begged for mercy and was given an opportunity to repent. Hopefully, he did. It is quite alright to “pay the preacher”; the Bible teaches tithes and offerings. But it is never right to “pay to play” or “Quid pro Quo.” It is never right to give just to get a place of power, and woe to the leaders who receive a “tainted” gift.

Whenever we lose our moral bearings, there is a price to pay; we move out of our calling and into trouble. Our nation is in major trouble because of the Balaam strategy. The enemy has discovered our appetites and desires and has offered to satisfy them. “Self-interest” is destroying us. Of course our highest self-interests are in denying ourselves and serving God. He loves us and calls us to a good reward. But when we are seduced by whatever means, the price becomes much higher than imagined at first.

Approximately 40 million Americans are regularly visiting porn sites, a $4 to $5 billion business, and 70% of young men between the ages of 18 and 24 visit a porn site each month. It is estimated that 116,000 daily download child porn. The highest day is on Sunday! Another issue: no one knows the real cost of the drug culture, both what they pay, and what society pays. Then there is the “entitlement culture” which is bankrupting the United States. Take some of that away and we get riots. Meanwhile, our government borrows 40 cents of every dollar to feed the cravings. The loss of self-government renders us ungovernable!

Thank God, the Apostles could not be bought (see Acts 5 and 8). We must repent of our appetite-driven seduction and visit the Cross. Any “gospel” without the Cross is no gospel and offers no salvation from ourselves, it only feeds the monster.

Then, we need to share the true Gospel with others. The failure to reach our community with the truth of God and the purpose of God has left us wandering in the wilderness fraternizing with “Moabite Theology.” If we do, in the end, we will get their diseases of spirit, soul, and body.

I want to thank you for being a significant part of our ability as a ministry to declare the Gospel of Jesus Christ among the nations. This is a vital time in history, and I believe this message is vital as well. Please continue to lift us up in prayer and to support us in your giving as we move forward in our mission.

For more information about CSM or to receive ministry resources, please visit our website at or see the enclosed card. We are blessed to count you as friends and co-laborers in the cause of Christ.

May God give us all focus, integrity and His power to reveal the real Jesus to our world.

In Him,
Charles Simpson

Scripture Reference: Revelations, Numbers, Hebrews, 2 Kings, Acts

About the Author:

Charles Simpson

Charles Simpson is an internationally-known author, Bible teacher, and pastor, serving in ministry since 1955. He is also Editor-in-Chief of One-to-One Magazine and ministers extensively throughout the United States and the nations.