10 "But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves. 11 Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah."
The error of Balaam. Quite the sad story, complete with a talking donkey. Balaam knew God. He was a prophet. In fact one of the most striking prophecies about Jesus' birth came from the lips of Balaam about 1500 years before it happened.
Yet Balaam stumbled and fell. It's not for me to say if he'll be in the kingdom but it doesn't look good. Here's what happened:
The children of Israel were on their way from Egypt to the promised land (Canaan). When they were passing by Moab the king of Moab feared the Israelites would destroy them. Balaam lived far to the north east but had a reputation for knowing the God of Abraham so the king sent a delegation to find him and offer him money to ask God to curse the Israelites. At first Balaam said no but the cash offer was too hard to resist so he decided to give it a try. As he rode his donkey toward Moab the donkey stopped. Balaam hit him. The donkey asked him why. Yes the donkey spoke. The donkey couldn't understand why Balaam was hitting him when the road was blocked by an angel wielding a sword. Despite all this Balaam kept going determined to get the cash.
When he arrived he tried to curse Israel but only blessings came from his lips. Finally he tells the king the only way to "curse" the Israelites is to entice them into sin. This was accomplished by inviting them to a feast for Baal and having their women seduce the men of Israel.
In the end Balaam loved money more than God and became a willing instrument in the hands of the devil because of it. In many ways Balaam is the Judas of the Old Testament.
The saddest part of his story for me is that when the king of Moab first asked him to curse Israel he said no because he knew it was wrong. Then he prayed and God told him not to do it. Then he prayed again and God told him to go ahead.
Many times I have watched people convince themselves to do a wrong thing when they knew it was wrong. Sometimes it is by seeking advice from several people until they find someone who agrees with them. Sometimes it is even by prayer. There is no need to pray if we already know His will. Even playing with ideas we know are wrong is just a slippery slope to no where good.
We think we will profit by following our desires. If those desires didn't come from God the cost is far above the benefit. Every. Time.