BRUTE BEASTS Part 3— Jude 10-11
The Error of Balaam
Peter called these apostates “natural brute beasts” (2 Peter 2:12) and compared them to animals (2 Peter 2:22). “Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule!” warned the psalmist (Psalm 32:9). The horse likes to rush ahead and the mule likes to lag behind; both can get you off the right path. Believers are sheep, and sheep need to stay close to the shepherd or they will stray.
The Bible says in the book of Jude that not only have men gone the way of Cain, but they have run “greedily after the error of Balaam.” Balaam is mentioned many times in the Word of God. We find the doctrine of Balaam, the way of Balaam, the error of Balaam. The Bible says they “ran greedily after the error of Balaam.”
In Bible times, on the east side of Jordan, there were certain areas of land divided by rivers. These rivers ran east and west and provided northern and southern borders for certain people. One such portion of ground belonged to the Moabites. As the children of Israel travelled in that land, they came near these Moabite people. The Bible says in Numbers 22:1-7, “And the children of Israel set forward, and pitched in the plains of Moab on this side Jordan by Jericho. And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites. And Moab was sore afraid of the people, because they were many: and Moab was distressed because of the children of Israel. And Moab said unto the elders of Midian, Now shall this company lick up all that are round about us, as the ox licketh up the grass of the field. And Balak the son of Zippor was king of the Moabites at that time. He sent messengers therefore unto Balaam the son of Beor to Pethor, which is by the river of the land of the children of his people, to call him, saying, Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt: behold, they cover the face of the earth, and they abide over against me: Come now therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people; for they are too mighty for me: peradventure I shall prevail, that we may smite them, and that I may drive them out of the land: for I wot that he whom thou blessest is blessed, and he whom thou cursest is cursed. And the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the rewards of divination in their hand; and they came unto Balaam, and spake unto him the words of Balak.”
The Jewish people are a blessed people, a people with a special purpose on the earth. To them and through them the Lord chose to make Himself known to the rest of the world. As the Jews travelled near the Moabites, King Balak said, “Find Balaam.” The king was evidently an unbelieving person who knew very little about the Jew. “Find him, and we will reward him. We will give him things if he will curse the Jews.”
Balaam heard this request from Balak, and went to God. The Bible says in Numbers 22:12-13, “And God said unto Balaam, Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed. And Balaam rose up in the morning, and said unto the princes of Balak, Get you into your land: for the LORD refuseth to give me leave to go with you.”
It was a settled matter. God said no, but they came again to Balaam. The Bible says in verse 17, “For I will promote thee unto very great honour, and I will do whatsoever thou sayest unto me: come therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people.”
After God said no, they approached Balaam again. Balaam wanted the reward. He wanted that promotion. The greed inside him would not let him stop. This was the error of Balaam. As a hireling, he went on. He was willing to be hired in his service, failing to realize that God had a special covenant purpose of Israel.
The Lord Jesus Christ said in John chapter 10 that there is a difference between the hireling and the shepherd.
In John’s passage, the Lord gives a contrast between the Pharisees (hirelings) who had no concern for the sheep, and Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd. The hirelings flee and protect themselves when the enemies come; but Christ willingly gives up His life for the sheep. (See Act 20:29.) Christ as the Good Shepherd gives His life on the cross (Psalm 22:1-31); as the Great Shepherd, He cares for the sheep (Hebrews 13:20 and Psalm 23:1-6); and as the Chief Shepherd He will come again in glory for His sheep (Psalm 24:1-10 and 1 Peter 5:4). In John 10:18 He speaks of both His death and His resurrection.
God warns us in the book of Jude that these apostates are people who are for hire. The hireling flees because he does not care for the sheep.
“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” — James 4:10