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The Gospel From Patmos
Everyday Insights For Living
From The Last Book Of The Bible
Daily Devotional
Wednesday, February 22, 2017

            But I have a few things against you, namely that you have some there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to place an occasion for sin before the sons of Israel, to eat food offered to idols and to commit fornication. Similarly, you have those who hold to the teaching of the nicolaitans. Rev 2:14-15.



            Apparently, teachings similar to those of Balaam were held in the church at Pergamum. They, like him, attempted to entice others astray with these teachings. The text also mentions the teaching of the Nicolaitans. The Greek root for the word Nicolaitans (nikolaos) means “the one who conquers the people” while the Hebrew name, Balaam, means “one who swallows up the people.” These two terms reflect different languages yet they mean essentially the same thing.
            When the king of Moab saw the Israelites coming, he realized that the God of Israel was far too powerful for his armies to overcome. So the king, Balak, had a brilliant idea. He would find a true prophet of their God who was willing to come and curse them. Then perhaps their God would forsake them and he could conquer them in battle.
            Having heard about Balaam, Balak sent a representative to approach him: “The King of Moab is offering you a large sum of money if you will come and curse Israel.” Balaam was a greedy sort and decided to accept the offer in spite of Yahweh’s displeasure.
            On his way to Moab, Balaam had his famous conversation with a donkey! In spite of this hint from God that he was on the wrong track, he continued on his journey to Moab and tried to curse Israel. But instead of curses, blessings came out of his mouth. The king who hired him was furious (see Numbers 22-24 for the larger story).
            Balaam’s consistent message, however, was, “I’m a prophet of Yahweh and can only say what Yahweh puts in my mouth.” No matter what Balaam did he could not curse Israel and, therefore, could not earn his money. Then he had a brilliant idea.
            “If we could figure out a way to lead Israel astray, God would forsake them and they would be defeated in battle.” As part of his fiendish scheme, Balaam used the fascination of pagan feasts and the lure of sexual immorality to attract a number of Israelites to sin through food sacrificed to idols and sexual immorality. As a result, God withdrew His protection from Israel and a great plague destroyed many of them (see Numbers 25 and 31:16).
            The story of Balaam illustrates our dependence on God’s protection. The sins that seem so innocuous to us have disastrous implications if they succeed in separating us from God. The church at Pergamum felt justified in its compromises, yet placed itself in grave danger.



            Lord, help me discern the unintended consequences of my daily actions and act accordingly.




 
 
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