Beware of false teachers
They have gone astray by abandoning the straight path and have followed the path of Balaam, the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of wickedness but received a rebuke for his lawlessness: A speechless donkey spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness. 2 Peter 2:15-16 CSB
Peter continues to provide descriptions of false teachers to help believers understand and recognize their deceptive works. Peter calls back a story from the book of Numbers, chapters 22 to 24. Within those chapters, we see a king of the Moabites, Balak, fearful of Israel, as the nation marches through the promised land, seen in Numbers 22:3: “Moab was terrified of the people because they were numerous, and Moab dreaded the Israelites.” So, King Balak reached out to Balaam through messengers to put a curse upon the Israelites so the that the Moabite army can defeat them (Num. 22:6). Balaam was promised a large amount of riches, but, initially, God spoke to him and told him not to, seen in Numbers 22:12: “Then God said to Balaam, “You are not to go with them. You are not to curse this people, for they are blessed.” So Balaam reached out to King Balak and shared the message from the Lord, yet Balak refused and insisted that Balaam curse the Israelites for riches. Eventually, Balaam would agree to follow the officials back to the king under the direction of the Lord (Num. 22:20). But, Balaam’s heart was still seeking out riches, as we see explained by Peter here in verse 15, “who loved the wages of wickedness.” On the road to the king, the Lord placed an angel on the path with a drawn sword in hand to block Balaam and his steed, his donkey (Num. 22:23). Three times this angel would block the donkey’s path, and three times, Balaam would beat his donkey to convince her to move forward. Eventually, God allowed the donkey to speak and rebuke Balaam (Num. 22:28-30). God would also open up Balaam’s eyes to see the angel of the Lord, to which Balaam would recognize his sin and repent, seen in Numbers 22:34: “Balaam said to the angel of the LORD, “I have sinned, for I did not know that you were standing in the path to confront me. And now, if it is evil in your sight, I will go back.” Balaam would be allowed to continue to travel under the guidance of the Lord, and instead of cursing the Israelites, Balaam blesses them three times to the behest of Balak (Num. 23-24). Peter uses this entire story to illustrate how the false teachers operate, that they are so blinded by their greed, it would take a miracle to change their “madness,” as God did to Balaam. As David Walls wrote, “For a donkey to rebuke the prophet’s madness reflects not only on the foolishness of Balaam but also on that of all false teachers.” Peter spends all this time to write illustration after illustration to make sure that his readers do not miss this important warning: beware of false teachers, for they lead to destruction.
Isaac De Guzman