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Wages Of Unrighteousness: Balaam- An Exposition! (2 Pet.2:15)

Updated: May 1

Text: "They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness." (2 Pet.2:15).


Introduction:


Wages are a fixed regular payments typically paid on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, by employers to employees. In a broader sense , wages are are a form of compensation for services. Compensation in the sense that such payments do not necessarily come in monetary terms.


Between Jacob and Laban, for example, Jacob opted for Rachael, Laban's daughter , as a compensation for his service in the house of Laban, "Now Jacob loved Rachael; so he said, I will serve you seven years for Rachael your younger daughter." (Gen.29:18). Laban was probably expecting Jacob to specify his wages in cash value when he asked Jacob "tell me what your wages should be." (Gen.29:15) .


Rahab the harlot also requested for a compensation from the spies. She said,"...show kindness to my father's house, and give me a true 'token." (Jud.2:12). The spies later did the needful sparing her entire household after the destruction of Jericho . What a compensation far better than money !


Similarly, David inquired what the compensatory payment looked like for whoever killed Goliath. He asked, " what shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? " ( 1 Sam.17:26).


The foregoing implies that there usually exists a sort of contract, formal or informal, between the payers and the payees . This is given the mindset that as soon as the terms of the contract are fulfilled by the payees, the employers fulfill their part of the deal. It is equally expected that the payees are paid in a timely fashion. This translates to the fact that the payors do everything possible NOT to default on the terms of payment.


Biblical Position On Wages / Compensation:


The subject of compensation ,wage and wage payments is given prominence on the pages of the scriptures, in both testaments. From the pages of Leviticus , there was a specific template on how wages should be handled, "you shall not cheat your neighbor, nor rob him. The wages of him who is hired shall not remain with you all night until morning " (Lev.19:13). Unnecessary withholding of wages amounts to cheating. It is discouraged ! On arriving the New Testament, 1Tim.5:18, says, "you shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain," and "the laborer is worthy of his wages." In essence, the scriptures recommend prompt payment of wages to laborers. So much so that, the scriptures engaged the use of agricultural metaphor, in the former part of 1 Tim.5:18, that even the ox that labors on the farm deserves to be well fed. This would later translate to higher and improved productivity on the part of the animal. The latter part of the 1 Tim.5:18 also supports human laborers' compensation. It is a matter of MUST to pay all "legitimate" and "legal" wages as agreed upon.


The book of James also shares the same sentiment as 1 Tim. 5:18. This is Jam.5:4. It says, "indeed the wages of laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the LORD of Sabaoth." All these facts presuppose that for any "legitimate" and "legal" employ or service, the agreed-upon wages MUST be fulfilled !


NOTE: With our focus in this piece being on "Wages of Unrighteousness", the biblical examples cited above are a specific pointer and references to the fact that NOT all wages are unrighteous . In other words, the definitions of wages as given above are within the scope of legal, legitimate, and righteous wages from the biblical context, and to ' a reasonable extent' , with particular reference to our contemporary world . The biblical examples and references are here as a guide to the subject of wages in general and to balance this robust discourse. On the long run , it aims at metamorphosing into a manual or at best a working template to making informed decisions for us believers , on what type of wages or compensation we need to seek after or indulge in, in our world that is almost becoming void of Godly influence and fear.


Balaam:


The man Balaam, at the center of this discourse, is no stranger to an average believer or reader of the scriptures, at least for his several futile attempts at cursing the people of Israel. He remains a force till today as someone to be reckoned with, in this wise. His office has been given various nomenclatures by biblical scholars. To some, he's a soothsayer . Some call him a sorcerer. While to some, he is a prophet, called of God. However, regardless of the title ascribed to this enigma , the fact remains he was notable in his days to make pronouncements that stood, either by blessing or cursing, whichever way the pendulum of the prophetic swung. His fame was a force even in the palace. King Balak personally upheld this fact . He said, "for I know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed" (Num.22: 6b).


Yes, he was known for this and his generation held him in a high esteem as such. Kings awed him. The nations feared him. His was a national voice in the prophetic. People trembled at the mention of his name . He held his world spellbound whenever he prophesied . His pronouncements never missed .Always on point, and unique . It was with this esteemed status and overwhelming resume in mind that Balak the king of the Moabites gave him a royal summon to curse the Israelites . Balak said, "therefore please come at once, curse this people for me, for they are too mighty for me." (Num.22:6). And probably for the first time in his ministry , and out of sheer avarice , Balaam was embarking on a journey of futility, that would on the long run, not only fail, but would lead to his waterloo . I wished he knew...I wished he had a close ally or a mentor to point his attention to the danger ahead and the lost battle he was fighting... Let's enjoy the ride !


Prayer: Any curse pronounced by anyone over your family is reversed in the name of the LORD ! AMEN.


The Compensatory Motivation & Balaam's UnGodly Moves:


As expected and stated above, king Balak packaged his invitation to Balaam with a tempting motivation . It was a juicy and mouth-watering compensation, too . Very well packaged that the highly esteemed and revered vessel lost his bearing and sense of reasoning when he got wind of the largesse . Humanly speaking , it was just simply irresistible ! King Balak himself was strategic even in the packaging . He did not send just anybody . He carefully selected elders both from Moab and Midian to transport the "royal gift" to Balaam . The scripture says , "so the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the diviner's fee in their hand, and they came to Balaam and spoke to him the words of Balak." (Num.22:7). The royal emissaries were equally diligent in this national assignment .They delayed not to convey Balak's mind to Balaam. After all, the king's business demands haste. A victory for their king was an honor and prestige for them , too. Afterall , elders were respected on matters of national importance in the Old Testament , "wisdom belong to the aged and understanding to the old" (Job 12:12). The situation at hand was no exception. Balaam , the great prophet of all time might probably honor them and yield to the king's demand...we never can say...


Definition of Terms : the diviner's fee is money given to a fortune teller or diviner to utter predictions, raise evil altars , and place curses .


SIDEBAR:


(True Life Story) I was once in a situation that a female person approached me in my place of work to transact monetary gift to an old man whom she had consulted earlier to afflict her co-worker , precisely her boss, with evil power. This was in those days I was working in one of the major financial institutions. While the woman was a resident of the state I was , as well as the "unknown victim", the old man lived in the northern part of the country. The woman was excited and happy for the successful operation, so much so that she could not hide her ecstasy from me. At the end she said, "I got the result of what the old man did for me on my boss, and I wished I had more money I would have given the old man !" As a matter of fact, she told me I would not understand what she was saying. Though I did and still understand, and I told her I understood very well, yet that experience remains one of the most real and frightening I have ever had of man's spiritual wickedness to man ! I was held spellbound all through her narrative. The amount sent to the old man was just a token : $300.00 ! With that little amount, a destiny was afflicted . She went further to tell me of her nationality , but I chose to keep that out of here, for pastoral ethics. She just successfully raised an evil altar against her fellow being, like Balaam did against the Israelites. Balaams are still in our world today , even among the female gender !


PRAYER: Any diviner fee offered on any evil altar against you or your household, will NOT work! Amen.


God Came To Balaam:

Inspite of the heavy presence of the royal delegate and the monetary compensation, Balaam still sought the face of God to inquire about the whole process. God literally came came to him to ask him who the guests were . It is worthy of note that this is one of the few instances God walked to human beings , as recorded on the pages of the scripture . Ballam got God's attention by virtue of his spiritual capacity and place , in the heart of the nation of Israel .For God ,it was a clear instruction that the assignment was not to be, because the Israelites were already blessed beyond curse (Num.22:12). With God denying him permission to go against His wish, Balaam 'seemed' to obey God as it were , having dismissed the Moabite royal delegate, albeit reluctantly . Something more than obedience to God's voice was at stake for Balaam. Would Balaam fall for it and progressively fall from grace to grass? Would he heed the sacred voice of God ? We shall see...time would tell as events unfolded...


And would king Balak himself take a NO for an answer ? Your guess is as good as mine. Balak did not take kindly to that refusal . Consequently , the stakes got higher . The game was becoming more interesting and keenly contested , to yield to Balak or stay glued to God? Balaam was at a crossroad! He was limping with two opinions . To prevail on his hireling , Balak , the game changer , fired the next shot. He raised a stronger and more financially strong delegate to the prophet . This time the joker was to issue a 'blank check.' Just for Balaam to name his price. He said, "please let nothing hinder you from coming to me; for I will certainly HONOR you greatly , and I will do whatever you say to me. Therefore please come , curse this people for me." (Num.22:17).


The new request , apparently a higher bid from Balak eventually made Balaam torn in between two worlds, worse than the initial request . Not certain what to decide, Balaam still 'feigned' seeking the face of God. The pressure from Balak on one hand, and greed on his part , put him in a state of indecision. At any rate, Balaam knew the voice of God better than going back and forth negotiating and 'beating about the bush' on what was God's final position on this matter . Even at that , when God approved of his going , He reiterated His unwavering stand , "...but only the word which I speak to you - that you shall do." (Num.22:20). It was so interesting that even in his stubborn state , and with his spiritual antenna waned , God used his donkey as a sight for him. Not only that , God made the donkey audible not only to rebel against the owner but also spoke harshly against him ! The angel of the LORD that appeared on the scene lent a voice to the donkey's "...your way is perverse before Me." (Num.22:32). Balaam momentarily lost all what made him to be him , as God's spokesman . He was treading on the part of self-destruction, all for material gratifications. It took God to twist his arm to bless the Israelites. What lofty destruction the love of money, the root of all evil, can bring to a man !



The Likes Of Balaam:

The New Testament referenced Balaam as a trailblazer for those 'who have forsaken the right way and gone astray .' Such people manifest several ungodly traits. Among such traits are: eyes full of adultery, enticing unstable souls, and hearts trained in covetous practices . Hence , "they are accursed children." (2 Pet.2:15). They were metaphorically tagged "wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest..." (2 Pet.2:17). For them , the blackness of darkness are reserved forever ! They are already judged. Balaam , the pioneering person in this depraved terrain got the first rebuke for his iniquity . Much as it seemed Balaam obeyed God not to curse the Israelites , yet, he was not satisfied with God's resistance . He (Balaam), taught Balak to mislead the Israelites by putting a stumbling block before them. They were taught to eat things sacrificed to idols, "...and the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab. They invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods.' (Num. 25: 1-2). 'Balaamism' , (my coinage), later grew up to be a doctrine of sexual immorality for which the church in Pergamos, among other accusations, was condemned, "...because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and commit sexual immorality." (Rev.2 :14).


At the end of his infamous adventures, Ballam died a miserable death in a war against the Midainites , the very nation that initially hired him to curse the people of God . It was a battle initiated by Moses at the instance of God . It was an intense war that took the lives of the five kings of Midian and all the males . Balaam the prophet was not spared either , "Balaam the son of Boer they also killed with the sword." (Num.31:8). To say Balaam died at the hands of the people he wanted to curse, leaves much to be desired . No one rises against God and wins , anyway .


The acts and behavior of Balaam , and how he ended his journey would naturally arouse our interest and curiosity in similar characters in the Bible that displayed the same insatiable hunger for "unrighteous compensation." One of such is probably the greatest betrayer of all time , Judas Iscariot . In a manner similar to Balaam's , brother Judas obliged to betray the Master for a token of thirty pieces of silver (Mt.26:16). He transited from being a loyal disciple to a "guide" "to those who arrested Jesus" (Acts1:16). What destinies the love of money has destroyed! Peter summed up his life, time , and ministry , obviously a tragic one , thus: "now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity;..so that field is called in their own language , Akel Dama , that is , the Field of Blood." (Acts 1:19).


Conclusion:


Wages of unrighteousness are blood money . They are wages borne out of sin, destruction, rebellion , heartlessness. Simply put, they are "ungodly wages ." These are monies, payments, compensations that motivate both the payers and payees to do the unthinkable, even at the risk of their lives . We are in the days people risk their lives to detonating bombs that would make them victims of untimely deaths as their targeted victims . What a myopic and shallow thought process ! They get gratified to embark on these destructive missions where even angels dare not tread . These unholy wages are paid and collected at the expense of even the best of friends, allies, colleagues, family members, and nations . All for self gratifications , to terminate lives , destroy destinies, gain illegal grounds, enforce religious faiths, boost social status , waste resources and manpower , and to oppress the less-privileged . On the long run , wages of unrighteousness make people go astray by making them forsaking the way of truth . The scriptures call them "accursed children." This is who the followers of 'Balaamism' are , and Balaam , their father . May the LORD help us not to be accursed . Amen! Jude 11 has a word for them as well , " Woe to them! For they have gone in in the way of Cain , have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit..." Greed...this five-lettered word is the cause of all these uproar...


Is our world not bedeviled to a level that for a token or peanuts killers are increasingly on the prowl taking innocent lives ? Trust and love between spouses wane very fast , these days . Friends' betrayals are at an alarming proportion. Loyalty has become a thing of the past . Bloodshed is not decreasing either. Hell is let loose. The menace seems endless. Beneficiaries of these cursed payments are right there in our midst . In offices , places of worship, neighbors, and among business partners. All because people are being induced and motivated by 'WAGES OF UNRIGHTEOUSNESS .'


Beloved, what types of wages do we seek ? It's better to seek after Godly and righteous wages. And if we ever had indulged in wages of unrighteousness , either expressed or implied , or by any other means , it is high time we turned a new leaf . And may we not be victims of such . Amen ! May the LORD help us!


Blessings !


Note: It's my 56th birthday on the 13th of this month. I covet your prayers!


© September 2023


Being A Monthly Scripture Nugget

From The Desk Of

Olusegun A Emosu

The Redeemed Christian Church Of God

Rehoboth Parish

1879, S Stonemountain Lithonia Rd,

Lithonia GA 30058

September 1, 2023



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