The story of Balaam according to the Christian Bible is a gripping tale between the forces of Good and the forces of evil. Likely the basis for many fantasy books or movies of fictional tales filled with sorcery, stargazing, pagan ritual and more, the Bible tells the story of a great sorcerer whose fame had spread for hundreds of miles.
An evil king focused upon building his empire sought to use the magic of the sorcerer against the Children of Israel, turning them away from their most powerful ally: The Almighty God.
According to the book of Numbers, Balaam practiced divination, which was condemned and punishable by death under the Mosaic Law. But divination and its consequences are not easily understood among the followers of William Branham, because in his teaching, Branham obscurred the lines between prophecy and divination.
Divination is the practice of foreseeing the future through various means, some of which include fasting, stargazing, and even occultic practices. Typically, those who practice divination are summoned by those who wish to use the knowledge of the future to their own purpose, such as Balaak the king in the story of Balaam. But it is vastly different than prophecy. The message given by the diviner is not a message that uplifts the entire body, and the intent of the message can only serve two purposes. Divination uplifts the sorcerer into greater fear or respect through amazement in his accuracy, while providing insight into a future event that many times cannot be changed. While the sorcerer is lifted into power, those focusing on their anticipation of the future become weaker vessels durign the present.
Prophecy (from God), however, is given directly by God for the sole purpose of building a stronger body. It is never intended to lift one man into greater respect, and many times through the examples we find in the Bible, it actually was given to humble the pride.
During the Old Testament, there was a period of time that we refer to as the "age of the prophets," and it fell between the time of the Old Covenant and the days of Jesus Christ. According to the Apostle Paul, the law was given as a tool for learning, like a student being tutored until his graduation. Paul tells us that during the time of the Law, the Children of Israel were proving time and again that man cannot save themselves, and needed a Savior to redeem them from the curse. When we study the prophets of the Old Testament, we quickly find that they were not diviners who were summoned to foresee future events, but instead were men who humbled themselves enough to let God speak through them.
The Word of the Lord through the prophets seemed to be a beating drum, all saying the same exact thing time and again: "Children of Israel, you have failed to save yourselves through keeping the Law. Because you have done this, I will bring the curses that were given under the Old Covenant as a consequence for failure. But one day, I will send the Messiah to redeem you from this curse and show you a better way."
Luke 16:16 tells us that this time ended with John the Baptist. When the New Covenant of Grace was established, there was no need for God to send messengers to tell the Children of Israel that they had broken the Law -- According to Paul, the Old Covenant was made obsolete by the Everlasting Covenant of Grace.
The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it.
Balaam was not one of these prophets, and though God gave him a message to foretell the Redeemer, Balaam was still an evil sorcerer. When Balaam was summoned, he was not summoned because of his reputation of being a prophet of the Lord. Instead, Balaam was summoned for his powers of divination, and accepted fees in exchange for this abomination.
So the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the fees for divination in their hand. And they came to Balaam and gave him Balak's message.
Ultimately, this was the cause of Balaam's demise. Though Balaam was not one of the Children of Israel, the armies of Israel excuted capital punishment in agreement with the Law of Moses. Balaam was put to death for the abmoniation of divination.
Balaam also, the son of Beor, the one who practiced divination, was killed with the sword by the people of Israel among the rest of their slain.
But Branham's version of the story of Balaam did not focus on the distinct line between good and evil. According to William Branham, there were two messengers for that "age," Moses and Balaam. Branham taught his followers that Balaam had the "same anointing" that was given to Moses, claiming that all who can peer into the future were considered "prophets" instead of diviners.
And the Moabites, in Branham's version of the story, were worshippers of Yahweh instead of the gods of Baal. While history (and the Bible) records the Moabites serving Chemosh and Molech, Branham claimed that this pagan nation could be compared to "formal" or "organized" Christianity.
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