Why did God get angry with Balaam in Numbers 22:22?

WHY DID GOD GET ANGRY WITH BALAAM IN NUMBERS 22:22?

by Shawn Brasseaux

God’s Word says in Numbers 22:20-22: “[20] And God came unto Balaam at night, and said unto him, If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them; but yet the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do. [21] And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab. [22] And God’s anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him.” God told Balaam he could go (verse 20), but when Balaam went, the Bible says, “God’s anger was kindled because he went” (verse 22). How could God get angry when Balaam followed His directions? Is God being unreasonable here?

While much background could be provided, for brevity’s sake, comments will be greatly limited. Having just defeated the Amorites in chapter 21, the Israelites are traveling through Moab. Balak, king of the Moabites, is afraid that the Jews might now make war with him and slaughter his people. Thus, he recruits Balaam the prophet to come and curse Israel. If Balak can get Balaam to turn Israel’s God against her, then Israel will be taken care of and Balak and the Moabites will escape unharmed. Balak sends two delegations of men to Balaam, using monetary offers to entice Balaam to come and curse Israel.

Dropping in at verse 16 of chapter 22, we gain the flow of the passage in question: “[16] And they came to Balaam, and said to him, Thus saith Balak the son of Zippor, Let nothing, I pray thee, hinder thee from coming unto me: [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. [18] And Balaam answered and said unto the servants of Balak, If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the LORD my God, to do less or more. [19] Now therefore, I pray you, tarry ye also here this night, that I may know what the LORD will say unto me more.

“[20] And God came unto Balaam at night, and said unto him, If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them; but yet the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do. [21] And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab. [22] And God’s anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him.”

Clearly, God endorsed Balaam going with Balak’s servants (verse 20). Yet, when Balaam went (verse 21), the Bible says in verse 22: “God’s anger was kindled because he went.” Bible critics use this as a proof text to say that God is unfair, fickle, or perhaps even deceitful. Why did God disapprove of Balaam doing something He approved Balaam of doing? It is very important that we read verse 20 very, very carefully: “And God came unto Balaam at night, and said unto him, If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them; but yet the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do.” God attached a condition to Balaam’s departure. Only if Balak’s servants called Balaam was Balaam to go with them. Balak’s servants did not call Balaam. Balaam simply got up and went. There was disobedience to God’s words. Balaam did not actually believe what God said, so he did not do what God wanted him to do. God said he could go IF they asked. They did not ask and yet he went anyway. Balaam was in the wrong, and God had every right to be angry with him for his unbelief. What was Balaam’s problem? It was materialism!

Second Peter chapter 2: “[14] Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: [15] Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; [16] But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet.”

Jude 11: “Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.”

Saints, please remember us in your monthly giving. You can donate securely here: https://www.paypal.me/ShawnBrasseaux, or email me at arcministries@gmail.com. Do not forget about Bible Q&A booklets for sale at https://arcgraceministries.org/in-print/booklets-bible-q-a/. Thanks to all who give to and pray for us! 🙂

Also see:
» Was God “unfair” in striking Uzzah dead?
» How did King Saul die?
» Why does the Bible give two accounts of Judas’s death?

One response to “Why did God get angry with Balaam in Numbers 22:22?

  1. Pingback: Be Wise, Not Foolish! – 333 Words of Grace

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