Balaam in the Old Testament is not admirable for many reasons. As a pagan who practiced divination, he is most notably known for enticing the Israelites to sin (Numbers 31:16). John’s commentary on him, in Revelation 2:14, states that Balaam “taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality.”
However, Balaam does have his fifteen minutes of fame. When called on by Balak, and enticed with money and pressured via power to curse the Israelites, Balaam receives a true revelation from the Lord. And his response to Balak, since it was prompted by God, is worth taking note of, but more on Balaam later.
As Balak was able to view the landscape of Moab from the field of Zophim, at the top of Pisgah, and inquire on exactly what was going on, so also does social media provide a window into our modern Moab, replete with all the pagan idolatry and hatred for God’s people as one could find then. Social media is our field of Zophim, and the view of the cultural landscape here is bleak.
One bright example of hope among the darkness was the recent releasing and signing of The Nashville Statement (NS). I encourage all to follow the link and read it in its entirety. The statement was composed by the CBMW and the ERLC.
Without trying to summarize every article of the Statement, it essentially presents a conservative, non-progressive, biblical view of sexuality and gender, and calls on Christians to sign it.
Many well known Christian leaders have publicly attached their name to it. Denny Burk, John Piper, Russell Moore, J. I. Packer, Wayne Grudem, Albert Mohler, D. A. Carson, John MacArthur, R. C. Sproul, Rosaria Butterfield, Francis Chan, Ligon Duncan, Christopher Yuan, and H.B. Charles, Jr. are among some.
With the public pronunciation and signing of a document like this, the biblicly illiterate came crawling out of their dens to spew their venom all over social media. Follow the hashtag, and you will see the hatred and judgments of those who think this document is hateful and judgmental. Apparently, they read the verses in Scripture about not having double-standards with the same integrity as they read the verses that deal with human sexuality.
And if you think that all too harsh, I would call your attention to read 1 Corinthians 6. Read about how the very practices these people are promoting, celebrating, and indoctrinating into our youth are not only sinful, but they are actually a false gospel. And people who promote false gospels do require, from time to time, pointed and caustic language (Galatians 5:12). The online attacks on Christ, the slander on the testimony of Scripture, and the mutilations of the good creation of God, deserve nothing less. But I digress… Where was I?
Al Mohler described the statement as being historic, biblical, and timely.
It is certainly historic. The modern notions sweeping the nation about sexuality, marriage, and gender, certainly cannot be found anywhere in the annals the church historic.
It is certainly biblical as the clear reading of chapters like Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 6 reveal.
And, all the vitriolic responses have done is demonstrate just how timely this is. Throughout church history, councils and leaders have met to make statements and declarations in response to cultural tidal waves. The famous councils of church history like Chalcedon, Nicea, etc. were largely responses to growing heretical beliefs. Even infamous and false councils like Trent and the Vatican were still responding to cultural trends (the Reformation).
Had the NS have been released in a time and culture when there was no push back, no dissent, and the culture largely responded with a resounding “Duh,” accompanied by a high shoulder shrug, one would wonder how necessary this whole shindig was. Given the widespread hatred for this document, and thus the widespread hatred for the Bible, and thus the widespread hatred for what God has done and said, and thus the widespread hatred of God, even by professing Christians, this could not be more timely. It is time that Christians and leaders take public stands on the issue of sexuality and gender.
These crazed, bigoted, and zealous responses to the NS have also demonstrated that no matter how kind, loving, and politely we express our disagreements, the progressive mob will eat us up.
The rhetoric of the NS bears no bad fruit. It is covered in love. It engages in no hateful rhetoric, vile words, name-calling, or even ALL CAPS screaming. It is adorned in a peaceful temperament.
This means it is the content that is found to be hateful, not the expression. The slippery slope has reached a major turn in our downhill slide into chaos. The prophetic pronouncements of my younger years, that this movement would be insatiable, are being fulfilled right before my eyes. The public’s unabashed admission is that tolerance is no longer acceptable. Widespread celebration and love for these ideals about sexuality and gender is the new standard.
Romans 1: 32,
“Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”
How does our diviner Balaam fit in to all of this? As Douglas Wilson once said in a podcast, we are currently facing a battle over the dictionary. Who gets to decide what words we can use? When we look around and survey the culture before us, are we allowed to think God’s thoughts about it afterword? Are we allowed to call things as God sees them?
The culture expects to dictate to us Christians how it is we must define concepts like marriage, gender and sexuality. They want to define our nouns, and then provide a limited selection of adjectives we can use for those nouns.
In other words, they require our blessing. We must curse what they curse, and we must bless what they bless. And this is where Balaam comes in. His response to Balak is the one emblematic moment in his life.
Balak, a king, trusts that his military conquests will only be successful if Balaam gives his blessing, and curses Balak’s enemies, in this case, Israel.
Numbers 22: 6,
“Come now [Balaam], curse this people for me, since they are too mighty for me. Perhaps I shall be able to defeat them and drive them from the land, for I know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed.”
Balaam disobediently goes to Balak. Balak entices his response with many things. He paid him both money and honor. He built him altars and slaughtered sacrifices for him. Yet the Lord visited Balaam, and revealed to Him His will, that Balaam not curse Israel. How, then, does Balaam respond to Balak’s consistent pressure?
Numbers 23: 8,
“How can I curse whom God has not cursed? How can I denounce whom the LORD has not denounced?”
Balaam responds with a rhetorical question, and a good one to boot. It is absurd to even entertain the idea of cursing what God has blessed and denouncing what He has not. And it would take a strange hermeneutic (of the likes of a 21st century progressive) to argue this does not work in reverse. If it is wrong to curse what God has blessed, then it is likewise wrong to bless what God has cursed.
We are not permitted to “call evil good and good evil” (Isaiah 50:20). If God has spoken, that settles the issue. And God, in His Word, has revealed to us His thoughts about gender and sexuality with the same authority and clarity in which He revealed His thoughts about Israel to Balaam.
Our response must be the same. We must not look at these things the culture has blessed, that the culture promotes, and bless them. They are demanding our blessing, but we must not give it to them, for God’s sake.
What the NS statement ultimately is, is a call to maintain our dictionary; it is resistance. We will not surrender, we will not fold. We will stand for the truth of the Bible as it is revealed in its context. We will not bless what God has not blessed.