Dr. Couch, Balaam is mentioned often in the NT. What can we learn about the story of him from the OT?
The story of Balaam is long and complicated as an OT event. The details are given in Numbers 22-31. Israel was on the journey from Egypt going towards the promised land when they came to the country of Moab. Balaam was a hired evil prophet and false teacher. The teaching of Balaam refers to his teaching the king, Balak, to corrupt the Jewish people whom he could not curse.
Three things are said of Balaam in the NT. There is (1) the way of Balaam (2 Pet. 2:15); (2) the error of Balaam (Jude 11); and (3) the doctrine of Balaam (Rev. 2:14). It could be said of him that he was virtually a warlock, used of Satan to trip up the morals of Israel. The "ways" would refer to his deceptive patterns.
Peter writes about the Jews who in the wilderness sojourn "indulged" the flesh when tempted by Balaam. Many today are (1) "forsaking the right way, having gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness" (2 Pet. 2:15).
The (2) "error" of Balaam is a reference to those who live absolutely contrary to what is right. Their sins are outright errors that disdain the righteous directives of the Lord. "Woe to them! They rush headlong into the error of Balaam" (Jude 11).
Finally, (3) there is a whole pattern of evil doctrinal teaching that is just the opposite of what God demands. In the church at Pergamum, there were those who "held the teaching (doctrine) of Balaam, who kept teaching (king) Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit acts of immorality" (Rev. 2:14).
Satan uses the evil intensions of such men and works his strategies against human beings. His patterns can destroy both the lost and the righteous.
Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch