The Death of the Righteous

Balaam was a wicked man (2Pe 2:15) who had a unique relationship with God; it was well known that he could direct the blessings and curses of God as he wished. (Nu 22:6) Such holy, spiritual power in the wicked is hard to fathom. More mysterious still is God’s willingness to bestow it upon them.

God is pleased to work in and through whom He wills, however He wills (Da 4:35); having spiritual power does not imply holiness or righteousness or any favor at all with God. God is not limited or constrained in the way one might presuppose. Seeking spiritual power for its own sake is evidently then a vain pursuit. We should be seeking God Himself, not merely to wield His power.

Balaam was greedy (Jud 11), using his spiritual influence to benefit himself, willing to irreparably harm God’s precious people to get his way. (Re 2:14) How odd that a man with such a connection to God did not care to serve Him, and was even willing to become His enemy! Perhaps here, as with Lucifer, familiarity bred contempt.

Even so, when the Spirit of God came upon Balaam (Nu 24:2), he could pray the most amazing prayers! One such prayer was: “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!” (Nu 23:10b)

Dying the death of the righteous, passing from this vale of tears into the brightness of eternal glory, into the arms of our eternal Father, such a beautiful thing! (Ps 116:15) Who would not desire this?

And what contrast! the dreadful end of the wicked! (Ps 73:18-19) How do we even begin to compare the two: eternal death with the homecoming of a child of God! (Php 1:23) Yet we are, even now, comparing, weighing the two: our lives are revealing how we intend to die. (Pr 20:11)

Being on our deathbed, what shall we glory in? (2Co 10:17) What sacrifice made for Him shall we regret? What shall be our desire? (Ps 73:25) Will it be any different for us then than it is now? Not if we’re alive in Christ, walking in the light. (Ga 5:25) To the believer, living is Christ, and dying is gain. (Php 1:21) Only those who live the righteous life may die the death of the righteous. (He 12:14)

Balaam, for all his spiritual power, didn’t die a righteous death (Jos 13:22); he died a friend of the world, an enemy of God. (Ja 4:4) In his divinely inspired praying he did himself no eternal good. Perhaps these were just beautiful words to him, something to impress others.

When spiritual activity is rooted in self-interest, when we use religion to benefit ourselves, to exalt ourselves, how are we any different from Balaam? In such false religion we have our reward, and it’s truly nothing. There’s no excuse for this.

God looks on the heart, and renders to every man according to his work. (Ps 62:12) The heart that sees God, who knows God, will love God and live for Him. (Jn 14:23)

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