By Elder Enoch Ofori Jnr.
In the Bible there are only a few times that the word 'fear' has been used in a positive sense. An example is Prov. 28:14. It reads. "Happy is the man that FEARETH ALWAYS: but he that hardened his heart shall fall into mischief (KJV).
What is so special about this fear that it produces happiness? It is the fear of the LORD expressed in the keeping of His commandments which is "the whole duty of man"(Eccl. 12:13).
This is the kind of fear the devil fears most! Those who through the fear of God keep His commandments preserve their own lives (Prov. 19:16). These are the obedient ones who keep themselves safe so that the evil one cannot harm (I John 5:18).
Indeed, such people can only live a blessed, happy life; there is no way the devil can harm or twist them around his little finger (Ps. 119:165).
They are free from all the evil plans of Satan as followers of the law of freedom. Obedience to God's law is itself a buffer against curses being the consequences of transgression. For obedient believers, the law of the Spirit of life makes free from the law of sin and death and its consequences (Rom. 8:2, James 1:25, John 8:34).
Sin is defined as the transgression of God's law (I John 3:4). In Hebrew 'sin' means to "miss the mark", to fall short of God's (righteous) standards; to flop!
In your failed, fallen state, Satan will have power over you, and he will be able to harm you just as he did to Adam and Eve!
In the Bible, Balaam is held up as the quintessential false prophet, the perfect example of a false prophet so to speak! He was the spiritualist hired by Balak, King of Moab, to curse Israel but in vain (Num 22 & 23).
As we all know, the enchantments of Balaam failed miserably to work against Israel, and he appeared to have given up as it were. But not really. Balaam knew one other way he could yet get Israel – if only he could make Israel fall into sin!
And this time he nearly succeeded. This one calculated act of Balaam against Israel is what makes him the most scorned, hated false prophet in the entire Bible!
He sold Moab on an idea he reckoned would bring down Israel by self-inflicted defeat stealthily executed! He instructed the Mobites to entice Israel into sexual immorality and idol worship, even the worship of the Baal of Peor!
In anger at the flagrant debauchery displayed by the Israelites, God unleashed a plague against them killing 24,000-and that despite the swift vengeance administered by Phinehas on the LORD'S behalf (Num 25:1-9).
Later, God ordered Moses to take revenge on the people of Midian, Balaam's country, by waging war against them. In the ensuring vengeful onslaught on Midian, Balaam, along with all the other men of the city, was killed. But the LORD would not be fully appeased until the women of Midian, who had on Balaam's advice enticed the men of Israel, were also killed (Num 31:1-9, 15-18).
The crafty evil counsel of Balaam, aimed at Israel's total destruction, grieved the LORD so much that He nut an entire citv-his co-consnirators to the sword!
But what at all was it that prompted Balaam to think up this second plan against Israel after he had miserably failed to curse them through sorcery?
The answer is found in Num 23:21:
"He [God] hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath He seen perverseness in
Israel: the LORD his God is with him and the shout of a King is among them"
The absence of national transgression was the reason why no enchantment or sorcery could work against Israel. So Balaam thought, if only I could make Israel sin against their God, then my charms would take effect”.
Balaam's infamy for scheming to have Israel enticed into sin transcends his time – the O.T. period (2 Peter 2:15, Jude 1:11).
In Rev. 2:14-15, Christ compares the false teachings of the Nicolaitans in the Church of Pergamos to those of Balaam "who taught Balak to entice the Israelites into sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality". As a warning to the straying church, He said, "Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth" as I fought against Balaam (vs. 16).
God had every reason to be implacably disgusted with Balaam, because if in His mercy He had not intervened to get Israel off the track of transgression, the doom of the nation would have been sealed there and then!
Righteousness is a protective shield and tower for the obedient believer (Ps. 91:4, Prov. 18:10).
That is why the Bible states that the person who keeps God's law keeps his own soul.
By keeping the life-giving commandments of God, we surely abide under the shadow of the Almighty (Ps. 91:1). Though the wicked lies in wait for our souls, he does so in vain; God will not leave us in his hand nor condemn us in judgment. Our steps shall not slide, and none of the devices of the wicked shall prevail against us (Ps 37:31-33).
Indeed, we shall dwell safely quiet from fear of evil (Prov. 1:33). As we have not stopped our ears from the law, God will incline his ear to our prayers and save us in our distress (Prov. 28:9).
In this church, we have not been taught the way of Balaam, which is the way of transgression (2 Pet. 2:15). We have been taught the way of obedience in whose path is life (Prov. 12:28).
So "Hold on to instruction [God's Law], do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life" (Prov. 4:13 NIV). Amen!