May 24, 2013

The Lessons of Balaam for Ministry

At the conclusion of a fine chapter on the theology of the Balaam oracles, Ron Allen makes the following point.

"A final word concerns the relationship Balaam bears on the issue of the Christian ministry. It is sometimes said that God never uses an unclean vessel. But remember Balaam. Perhaps it might better be said that God rarely uses unclean vessels. This factor may indicate that our success syndrome is wrongly directed. A given minister of God’s Word may have blessing and success simply because God is honoring His Word and not necessarily because He is honoring the messenger.

"The fate of a Balaam is beyond comprehension. Perhaps the Balaam of the Numbers account will not be the only one who died in the enemy camp, having never been related to the God whose Word he communicated to others. Many others may say, “Lord, Lord,” whom the Lord never knew. The story of Balaam tells us a great deal about our God. It also places a mirror before us. We must view ourselves."

Ronald B. Allen, "The Theology of the Balaam Oracles," in Tradition and Testament: Essays in Honor of Charles Lee Feinberg, ed. John S. Feinberg and Paul D. Feinberg (Chicago: Moody, 1981), 109–10.

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