Was Balaam Converted?

In the Christian Friend and Instructor of last year, p. 269, we read, "As with Balaam so with Job, there were those outside the immediate circle of Abraham's family who knew and worshipped the Almighty." Again, p. 283, we read, "In the world outside God used an unconverted Balaam." This is an apparent contradiction. But it is clear from Rom. 1:21, etc., that a certain knowledge of God may exist apart from conversion or the working of divine life in the soul. Balaam, speaking in Num. 24:16, speaks there, I judge, more of what he had learnt of God since being invited to come to Balak than of any of his previous knowledge of Him gained in Pethor; and for these reasons it is apparent that Balaam's character as a soothsayer or diviner was well known. Balak, when he first sent to him to come and curse Israel, sent his messengers "with the rewards of divination in their hands." (Num. 22:7.) Also, there was no knowledge of God's ways with Israel, His people, in Balaam's mind at the moment. God forbade him to go, and says the people are blessed; then allowed him to have his way (for he loved the wages of unrighteousness, says the apostle Peter); then stood in the way as his adversary, with a sword drawn to kill him, forcing thus from the prophet the cry, "I have sinned." - When come to Balak he does say, for God had already warned him, "Peradventure the Lord will meet me" (Num. 23:3); but there is evident doubt about it in his mind, and the second time he does not say whom he goes to meet. (Num. 23:15.) In Num. 24:1, the Spirit records that "he went not, as at other times, to seek for (or to meet) enchantments," including in "other times" his two former efforts. All this shows, I think, clearly that there was another power than that of Jehovah which was influencing his mind at this moment, though it is also clear that he knew this power to be impotent against God. His language in Num. 23:23, "Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel," would indicate two things - the futility of his efforts, and also what he had learnt in the hands of God. Further, soothsayers, and those who use divination, are an abomination to the Lord (Deut. 18:10-14; Lev. 20:6, 27); and this is Balaam's description in Joshua 13:22, "Balaam the soothsayer." When he came to Balak, Balak took him at once to the high places of Baal (Num. 22:41), and it was there that Balaam proposes, "Build me here seven altars" (notice the words "me" and "here"). There they unitedly offered their sacrifices. (Num. 23:2.) Can we suppose this to be the action of a prophet of Jehovah? Then Balaam's own words, as, in "the vision of God," he pondered the blessed end of His people, were, "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his. (Num. 23:10.) Again, "I shall see Him, but not now: I shall behold Him, but not nigh." (Num. 24:17.) They remind one of Luke 16:23, and Rev. 1:7, and imply anything but a heart then at perfect rest with God. The words Balaam "rose up and went and returned to his place" (Num. 24:25), too, are very suggestive, where he perished as a soothsayer among the Lord's enemies, at the hands of His people (Joshua 13:22), who were commanded to cut off all such as an abomination in His eyes.

Moreover, in the New Testament, Balaam is classed among those to whom is reserved "the blackness of darkness for ever," by both Peter and Jude. (See 2 Peter 2:15-17; and Jude 11-13.) Terrible end of one with whom there was a certain knowledge of God, coupled with a love of honour and reward on earth, making him a servant of iniquity and unrighteousness, deceiving himself, and yet calling Jehovah the Lord his God. (Num. 22:18.)

Finally, as to Balaam worshipping Jehovah, as another has said, we must not confound Christian worship today with the worship of God in the past, nor with what will be found on earth again in the future. The hour "now is" when the true worshippers worship the Father, and when they that worship God must worship Him in spirit and in truth. (John 4) None can worship now save those who worship thus, and in order to it there must be divine life in the soul; but this was not a necessity in the past. Thus we see that all Judah and Jerusalem worshipped the Lord. (2 Chron. 20:18.) Were they all converted? Saul worshipped the Lord. (1 Sam. 15:25, 31.) Nor will conversion be a necessity in the future. Men in the millennium will worship Him, and yet be unconverted. (Psalm 22:27-29; and Zech. 19:16. See also Jeremiah 26:2-6; and Zeph. 2:11.)

H. C. Anstey.

I am standing with the open grave of Christ behind me - just risen out of it with Him, my eye fixed on Him before me, darting forward to the glory, waiting for Him to come. G. V. Wigram.

We should be like a vessel under the droppings of heaven, always kept full out of His fulness.

What is at the bottom of restlessness with us is, wanting to be somehwere or somewhat the Lord does not want us to be.

When Peter meant his best, he found out what a wicked heart he had. When he did his worst, he found out what a blessed heart Christ had. G. V. Wigram.