On False Prophets, Balaam’s Donkey and the Misuse of Prophetic Gifts—A Warning!

In Matthew 24 and elsewhere, Yeshua warned his disciples to beware of false prophets coming in the end times claiming to be anointed and have the word of Elohim from heaven and deceiving many—even the saints. Many of these false prophets have started false religions and cults, but can be found lurking about in the Christian church itself. There are many people running around claiming to speak for Elohim, but who are coming in the spirit of Balaam. Beware! That’s why it behooves us to study about Balaam the false prophet!

Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. (Matt 24:11)

For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. (Matt 24:24)

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. (Matt 7:15)

Numbers 23:4, Seven altars. Rashi, the Jewish Torah scholar, says these seven altars refer to the altars built by Israel’s ancestors—­four of which were built by Abraham (The ArtScroll Sapirstein Edition Rashi/Numbers, p. 288). Whether this is true or not, this story can serve to teach us a lesson. Perhaps Balaam superstitiously thought that by returning to some place where humans in times’ past had encountered the Presence of YHVH he could actually find YHVH there. Matthew Henry in his commentary on this verse states, “Oh the sottishness of superstition, to imagine that God will be at man’s beck!” To resort to programs, rituals or methodologies to “conjure” up the Presence of YHVH can lead to idolatry and witchcraft. What “attracts” the Spirit of YHVH? Is it worship, praise, a repen tant and humble heart, faith in him with obedience to his Word, and love for him or rituals, charms, incantations and religiosity? You know the answer.

Numbers 23:21, Perverseness in Israel. Balaam tried to find some iniquity, or some perversion in Israel that would give him legal grounds to curse Israel, but could find none. Remember, a curse causeless shall not land (Prov 26:2). Satan, the accuser of the brethren (Rev 12:10) has no legal grounds with which to attack the righteous of Yeshua who are submitted to the authority, will, Word and Spirit of YHVH (Jas 4:7), and who are under the blood of Yeshua, the Lamb of Elohim (Rev 12:11). How do we stay in such a spiritual state so that the attacks of the enemy have no legal ground to stick in our lives, and so that the fiery darts of Satan are instantly quenched? (Read compare and discuss Eph 6:10–18; Col 2:15; Luke 9:1; 10:19.)

Numbers 23:15–25, The arrogant hypocrisy of Balaam. Balaam calls YHVH “the Most High” and “the Almighty.” He had great respect for YHVH (as does Satan as we learn from James 2:19, “You believe that there is one Elohim, you do well: the devils also believe and tremble.”), but he did not have enough fear of, faith in and love for YHVH to obey him. Does this describe you? How much do you hold back loving YHVH with all your heart, soul, mind and strength?

Numbers 23:19, El is not a man that he should lie.Read the rest of this verse, which speaks about the immutable character of Elohim. (Also see Mal 3:6; Heb 13:8.) From the beginning in the Garden of Eden (thanks to the lies of Satan the serpent, see Gen 3:1–4), man has been under the spiritual delusion that Elohim changes his word, laws or commandments and that he doesn’t really mean what he says. That is to say, when YHVH gives a command, later on he may change his mind and his commands are no longer applicable to subsequent generations or people-groups. Down through the ages, church leaders have bought in to this lie of the enemy with regard to validity of the Torah as pertaining to the life of the redeemed believer. But by saying that the Torah is “done away with,” “has been nailed to the cross” “has been fulfilled in Jesus” meaning “he did it for us so that we don’t have to do it,” isn’t this really calling Elohim a liar? Now consider the numerous places throughout the Bible, the Word of Elohim, where the Torah is revealed as YHVH’s unalterable standard of righteousness for all time and for all people everywhere. (In this regard, read the following scriptures: Ps 119:44, 142, 144, 160, 172; Matt 4:4; 5:18–19; Rom 3:31; 7:12.) Who is really the liar? Man or Elohim?

Numbers 23:36, Balaam the man-pleaser. Balaam is desirous of pleasing Balak, even though he pretends to please YHVH. At heart Balaam is a man-pleaser, not a YHVH-pleaser. Yeshua castigated the religious hypocrites of his day for the same thing (John 12:43). What truly motivates you? Do you care more what men think when it comes to obeying the truth of YHVH? Do you often take the easy way out and the path of least resistance, which pleases the flesh and those around you rather than YHVH?

Numbers 24:2, The Spirit of Elohim came upon him.We see from the Scriptures that the Spirit of YHVH can come on just about anyone, but this doesn’t mean that the Spirit dwells in them, leads them, or that such a person has a heart to love, serve and obey Elohim. For example, the Spirit of Elohim came upon King Saul who prophesied (see 1 Sam 10:9–11; 19:20–24), but Saul didn’t serve YHVH with his whole heart and eventually became a murderous, apostate occultist. Not only does the Bible warn us to beware of prophets who prophecy falsely (e.g. Deut 13:1–5; Jer 23:9–40; Ezek 13:2; 22:24; Isa 28:7; Matt 24:4–5; 2 Pet 2:1–3), but to beware false prophets or unrighteous individuals who YHVH may use to prophecy correctly—not because they are filled with the Spirit of Elohim, but simply because the Spirit of Elohim temporarily comes upon them to accomplish YHVH’s purposes.

Numbers 24:3, Balaam…hath said.In this statement, we see revealed another character flaw of Balaam. Here he gives YHVH no credit for his prophetic word, but seeks his own glory. It’s as if he is saying, “I have heard the word of Elohim” with emphasis on himself rather than on Elohim, the source of the word. What caution does the Word of Elohim give us in this regard? (See Jer 9:23–24.)

Numbers 24:17, A Star out of Jacob.To what notable, kingly biblical figure is this prophecy referring? (See Matt 2:2; Rev 22:16 cp. Ps 2:1–12; Rev 17:14; 19:16. See also Rev 2:27; 12:5; 19:15.) This prophecy can have a double meaning in that it also pointed to King David who smote the Moabites and took possession of Mount Seir, the land of the Edom (vv. 17–18 cp. 2 Sam 8:2,14). 

However, both Christian and Jewish scholars have recognized the Messianic implications of this verse. For example, Akiva Ben Yosef, the rabbinic Jewish leader of the second century, applied this verse to Simon Bar Kosiba (whose name he changed to Kokhba meaning “son of the star” after the Star Prophecy of Num 24:17) who presumed to be the Messiah when he unsuccessfully attempted to defeat the Romans in the Second Jewish revolt. Additionally, Adam Clarke notes in his commentary on this verse that Moses Ben Maimon (or Maimonidies), the Medieval Jewish Torah scholar applied this verse to the future Messiah as do the Onkelos Targum and Jerusalem Targum (the ancient Jewish Aramaic translations of the Tankah). Rashi (the medieval JewishTorah scholar) and Sforno (the renaissance Jewish Torah scholar) in their Torah commentaries note the Messianic implications of the star of Balaam’s prophecy as well (Sforno Commentary on the Torah, ArtScroll Mesorah Series). 

One thing is certain, only Yeshua the Messiah can make the claim to having fulfilled this biblical prophecy! 


Balaam—A Subverter of Divine Gifts and a Prophet of Babylon

The name Balaam means “destruction of people.” The Hebrew word bela means “destruction, confuse, confound.” The Hebrew word am means people, tribe, nation. The name Balak means “waster, to annihilate.” He was king of Moab; distant cousins to Israel through Lot, Abraham’s nephew. The world, as well as the modern Christian church, is full of such prophets.

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Beware of Balaam’s non-profit “prophets” descendants in the church!

Numbers 22

Numbers 22:5, Pethor…by the river. Balaam was from the land of Pethor, which is “by the River.” This is a reference to the Euphrates River, the great river of Babylon (The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash, p. 857). Thus Balaam was a Babylonian, although he may have been a transplanted Edomite according to some Jewish scholars (see The ArtScroll Bereishis/Genesis Commentary on Gen 36:32). 

One of the aspects of Babylon of the last days is her religious system (Rev 13:11ff) the head of which is the false prophet (Rev 16:13; 19:20; 20:10). The Babylonian religious system of the end days is a blend of both good and evil (reminiscent of the tree by that name in Eden from which the serpent beguiled Adam and Eve away from YHVH’s path of truth and righteousness into a false religious system). 

In the last days, YHVH is calling his people out of that false religious system (Rev 18:4) with its false prophets who prophesy a mixture of good and evil. 

Is not modern traditional Christianity a mixture of good and evil, truth and error (i.e. doctrines and traditions of men along with some paganism mixed in)? Reflect on the implications of this. To what degree have you heeded YHVH’s call to “come out of her”—namely, any man-made religious or church systems that has components that are contrary to the Word of Elohim? 

Like many in mainstream Christianity, the Scriptures seems to indicate that Balaam had some knowledge of the truth of YHVH, but he refused to wholeheartedly submit to YHVH’s word and will (2 Pet 2:15). 

Let us not forget Yeshua’s warning about false prophets arising in the last days who might deceive the very elect (Matt 24:24).

Numbers 22:10ff, Crossing over. Many carnal people—especially those playing at religion—want to be like YHVH’s saints, and to be the recipients of the blessings of Israel, and to be numbered among YHVH’s chosen, but few want to walk the difficult walk of holiness and righteousness required to receive these blessings and privileges. These may very well be the spiritual tares that surreptitiously exist along side the saints within their congregations.

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Balaam and His Modern Spiritual Descendants

Balaam—A Subverter of Divine Gifts and a Prophet of Babylon

The name Balaam means “destruction of people.” The Hebrew word bela means “destruction, confuse, confound.” The Hebrew word am means people, tribe, nation. The name Balak means “waster, to annihilate.” He was king of Moab; distant cousins to Israel through Lot, Abraham’s nephew. The world, as well as the modern Christian church, is full of such prophets.

Balaam was from Pethor, a city located on the northern Euphrates and Tigress Rivers areas called Mesopotamia in modern Syria and including modern Iraq to the south.

Balaam was a soothsayer or diviner (one who foretells or predicts events, Josh 13:22). The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash says that Balaam was a sorcerer, necromancer or wizard (one who consults evil spirits) and that the sublime prophecies he uttered over Israel were but temporary aberrations that YHVH granted him for the honor of Israel (ibid., p. 863). These prophecies also served to glorify YHVH in the eyes of the nations. Other commentators consider Balaam to have been a true prophet of YHVH gone bad. One may consider him to have been a bad prophet going good (i.e. learning obedience to YHVH). One could also consider him to have been a false prophet seeking personal fame and fortune but who, at the same time, had prophetic abilities that he misused by mixing paganism and the truth of YHVH. This seems to be the Scriptures’ view of Balaam, for 2 Peter 2:15 indicates that Balaam had some knowledge of the truth, but turned away from it loving instead the “wages of unrighteousness.” In the book of Revelation, we learn that Balaam attempted to lead the children away from Elohim and into idolatry. According to the Torah, this makes him a false prophet (Deut 13:5). YHVH commands false prophets to be put to death (Deut 13:5), and indeed, we read of Balaam’s death at the hands of the Israelites in Numbers 31:8.

YHVH used Balaam to instruct Israel in the righteousness of YHVH (Mic 6:5). YHVH can use anyone, even a secular or a false prophet or one’s enemy, to speak his words. He can even use a donkey to speak his word, as Balaam found out! YHVH is sovereign, all-powerful and always in control of everything.

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What does it mean to cross over—to become a Hebrew, the Israel of Elohim?

Abraham, the father of the faithful, was one who left Babylon and crossed over to become a Hebrew. Crossed over from what? Read on…

Numbers 22:5, Pethor … by the river. Balaam was from the land of Pethor, which is “by the River.” This is a reference to the Euphrates River, the great river of Babylon (The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash, p. 857). Thus Balaam was a Babylonian, although he may have been a transplanted Edomite according to some Jewish scholars (see The ArtScroll Bereishis/Genesis Commentary on Gen 36:32). 

One of the aspects of Babylon of the last days is her religious system (Rev 13:11ff) the head of which is the false prophet (Rev 16:13; 19:20; 20:10). The Babylonian religious system of the end days is a blend of both good and evil (reminiscent of the tree by that name in Eden from which the serpent beguiled Adam and Eve away from YHVH’s path of truth and righteousness into a false religious system). 

In the last days, YHVH is calling his people out of that false religious system (Rev 18:4) with its false prophets who prophesy a mixture of good and evil. 

Is not modern traditional Christianity a mixture of good and evil, truth and error (i.e. doctrines and traditions of men along with some paganism mixed in)? Reflect on the implications of this. To what degree have you heeded YHVH’s call to “come out of her”—namely, any man-made religious or church systems that has components that are contrary to the Word of Elohim? 

Like many in mainstream Christianity, the Scriptures seems to indicate that Balaam had some knowledge of the truth of YHVH, but he refused to wholeheartedly submit to YHVH’s word and will (2 Pet 2:15). 

Let us not forget Yeshua’s warning about false prophets arising in the last days who might deceive the very elect (Matt 24:24).

Numbers 22:10ff, Crossing over. Many carnal people—especially those playing at religion—want to be like YHVH’s saints, and to be the recipients of the blessings of Israel, and to be numbered among YHVH’s chosen, but few want to walk the difficult walk of holiness and righteousness required to receive these blessings and privileges. These may very well be the spiritual tares that surreptitiously exist along side the saints within their congregations.

Many people will “court YHVH” by getting as close to him as possible without actually crossing over that spiritual river that divides the land of Israel from the rest of the world. Those who actually cross over become an Ivrit or a Hebrew—a word which means “to cross over.” Abraham was one who crossed over. He forsook Babylon and crossed over the Euphrates and Jordan Rivers in his journey westward en route to the Promised Land as he followed YHVH’s leading. He was the first Hebrew (Ivrit) or “one who crossed over.” 

Crossing over means going from being a worldly Babylonian to becoming the Israel of Elohim (Gal 6:16; Eph 2:11–13) and a child of Abraham (Gal 3:29). It also means surrendering one’s life totally to the Elohim of the Hebrews who is YHVH. 

The sacrifice of crossing over is too great for most people to make and requires the payment price of a high price—the death of self, pride, one’s own will and perhaps a change in lifestyle and the loss of one’s friends and status in the world. To leave the world or spiritual Babylon and to cross over the Jordan River to YHVH’s side and come into the land of Israel as a spiritual Hebrew means that the fame and fortune that this world has to offer must be laid aside and one must become a servant-slave of YHVH. Moreover, it means embracing YHVH’s Torah as the law of life—Elohim’s instructions in righteousness. 

Balaam couldn’t cross over all the way. He still preferred the riches and fame Babylon had to offer. He was willful, carnal and greedy (Jude 11). 

Many religious game-players or cultural Christians in the mainstream church are like Balaam. They want the Savior part of Yeshua, but not the Lord part. How serious are you about serving YHVH? 

The Scriptures say of the end-times saints that they loved not their lives unto death (Rev 12:11). Paul declares that followers of Yeshua must become “living sacrifices” in the service of YHVH (Rom 12:1). Yeshua gave his very life for you. 

Are you holding back some of your life for him? Do the cares of this world, the desire for pleasures, material goods, money, entertainments or acclaim still have a grip on your heart? Are they preventing you from moving into your spiritual calling and destiny—to truly walk by faith in obedience to YHVH?

 

Are You Cursable?

Numbers 22:11–12, Dealing with curses from the enemy. Make no mistake about it, false prophets are neither the friends of YHVH nor his people. They are grievous wolves who hate YHVH’s people and want their total destruction.

For example, in verse 11 Balak asks Balaam to pronounce a mild curse (arah) on Israel that would result simply in their being driven away, not on their being destroyed. But then notice in verse 17 how Balak employs a much stronger Hebrew expression (kavah) to curse Israel implying their total destruction, thus indicating Balaam’s hatred for Israel (and his contempt for YHVH).

In verse 12, YHVH uses the milder term to let Balaam know that even the mildest curse would not prevail against his people (The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash, p. 858).

Do you walk so closely to YHVH in relationship with Yeshua and in his righteousness that you are protected from even the mildest curse directed at you from the enemy? Do you stay under the blood of Yeshua so that no spiritual darts of Satan can pierce your spiritual armor (Eph 6:16; Rev 12:11)? Do you take refuge perpetually under the shadow of the wings of the Almighty (Ps 91:1, 4)? How does the child of YHVH do this every day?

Proverbs 26:2 states, “As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.” Do you have any “spiritual doors” open so that the Evil One has “legal” entrance into your life to attack you?

The solution to the problem is to repent by turning from sin and then turn to Yeshua! Obey his Word so that you do not open yourself up to the curses for disobedience as mentioned in Deuteronomy 28.


 

Two Kind of Christians: Which One Are YOU? A Balaam or a Hebrew?

Numbers 22:10ff, Crossing over. Many carnal people—especially those playing at religion—want to be like YHVH’s saints, and to be the recipients of the blessings of Israel, and to be numbered among YHVH’s chosen, but few want to walk the walk required to receive these blessings and privileges. Many will “court YHVH” by getting as close to him as possible without actually crossing over that spiritual river that divides the land of Israel from the rest of the world.

Those who actually cross over become an Ivrit or a Hebrew, which means “to cross over.” Abraham was one who crossed over. He forsook Babylon and crossed over the Euphrates and Jordan Rivers in his journey westward en route to the Promised Land as he followed YHVH’s leading. He was the first Hebrew (Ivrit) or “one who crossed over.”

Crossing over means going from being a worldly Babylonian to becoming the Israel of Elohim (Gal 6:16; Eph 2:11–13) and a child of Abraham (Gal 3:29) It also means surrendering one’s life totally to the Elohim of the Hebrews who is YHVH. The sacrifice of crossing over is too great for most people to make—too great of a price to pay. To leave the world or spiritual Babylon and to cross over the Jordan River to YHVH’s side and come into the land of Israel as a spiritual Hebrew means that the fame and fortune that this world has to offer must be laid aside and one must become a servant-slave of YHVH. Moreover, it means embracing YHVH’s Torah as the law of life—Elohim’s instructions in righteousness.

Balaam couldn’t cross over all the way. He still preferred the riches, fame and sinful “delights” that Babylon had to offer. He was willful, carnal and greedy (Jude 11).

Many religious game-players or cultural Christians in the mainstream church are like Balaam. They want the Savior part of Yeshua, but not the Lord or Master part. How serious are you about serving YHVH? The Scriptures say of the end-times saints that they loved not their lives unto death (Rev 12:11). Paul declares that followers of Yeshua must become “living sacrifices” in the service of YHVH (Rom 12:1).

Yeshua gave his very life for you. Are you holding back some of your life for him? Do the cares of this world, the desire for pleasures, material goods, money, entertainments or acclaim still have a grip on your heart? Are they preventing you from moving into your spiritual calling and destiny—to truly walk by faith in obedience to YHVH?


 

Beware of Modern Day Labans and Balaams Who Promise Much and Deliver Little

Laban and Balaam. It is quite possible that the false prophet Balaam, who heard from YHVH and had a sense of righteousness, though was still steeped in paganism, was a descendant of Laban. Both Laban and Balaam were from Aram (part of greater Babylon) and only 280 years separated them. One of the Aramaic Targums (Targum Jonathan) equates Balaam with Laban, while other scholars view Balaam as Laban’s grandson. Both were involved in a mixed-religious system—some truth and some error, some good and some evil. This is the nature of religious Babylon (meaning “mixture” or “confusion”). A mixture of what? Of good and evil. Remember the tree by that name in the Garden of Eden? Who was the one who enticed man to indulge in that fruit in rebellion to YHVH’s commands?

Even today, Satan the serpent is at the helm of spiritual Babylon trying to lure people into his system of good and evil. Like the tree of knowledge, the religious Babylon of today, out of which YHVH is calling his people (Rev 18:4), is just that—a mixture of truth and pagan lies. How else, for example, do we account for the name of the Christian festival called Easter or Ishtar named after the Babylonian sex goddess of fertility? Or how else do we account for the Christmas tree phallus symbol that also originated from Babylonian sex worship? Or how about the Easter egg (an ancient Babylonian fertility or sex symbol) or the egg on the Jewish Passover Seder plate? All these are symbols of pagan sex worship.

As YHVH called Jacob away from Babylon back to Beth-el (the House of El), and as YHVH turned Jacob’s heart back to the ways of his fathers, is not the same YHVH likewise now calling his people to come out of religious Babylon (Rev 18:4), to separate themselves from that which is unclean or not kosher (2 Cor 6:17)?

Yes, YHVH is pleading for the modern descendants of Jacob (redeemed Israelites or the Israel of Elohim, Gal 6:16) to not succumb to the lying forked-tongued Labans and Balaams of today who always over-promise and underdeliver—who would through deceptive lies pull Elohim’s back into their religious systems that are a mixture of truth and error. Elohim is urging his people to remember the good, ancient and blessed paths of the Torah of Moses his servant and to listen to the spirit of Elijah as the children’s hearts re turned back to the Hebraic fathers of their faith (Jer 6:16, 19; Mal 4:4–6).B