The Balaam Infiltration
A prophecy that cannot curse what God has blessed but entices people to unfaithfulness to their calling is called, “the error of Balaam.”
“Recruiting prophecy” is the most blatant and common, on display every day, example of the error of Balaam. It is as common as prophecy itself, both in personal prophecy and published prophecy. It is a common practice to prophesy and use the prophetic word to recruit followers, sell materials, and gain validation from popularity.
The fine line between “getting the message out there” and “using the message for personal benefit” is very fine indeed. The line can be crossed while the prophet steps back into his integrity, then crossed again at the next opportunity.
The most blatant recruiting prophets, seen daily on FB and available through several self-generated outlets, with hype-machined prophetic content and opportunistic manipulation, suffers from this syndrome enough to be classified as “false.” It is not that they cannot prophesy right words or teach good material. It is that they are recruiting prophets as wrong as Balaam because they move people from their assignments into distraction – at best – and substitution for obedience – at worst.
However, the error of Balaam – and I refer to Jude’s discussion of infiltrators with this spiritual operating syndrome – reveals a strategy to distraction God’s people into a substitution. For Balaam to get his money for destroying Israel, he enticed them with foreign women, turning the men away from the integrity of their cultural assignment. He used sexual immorality to undermine a nation.
In the spiritual sense, this is about false prophecy and teaching, both identifiable as through the behaviors of wolves that wear sheep’s clothing so they can whisper in the ears of the flock.
Prophets who entice operate in the error of Balaam.
The Flea Market Display and “Used Care Salesmen Make Better Prophets” Movement
“Prophecy is hot! Get in while the getting is good.”
I was scheduled for a conference in my state, and the leader who scheduled me said, “We need to advertise that you will be doing personal prophecy and ministry so we can get a crowd. If you don’t offer something like that, people won’t show up.” That person is now one of the most apparent of the error of Balaam prophets.
First of all, someone trained those people to respond that way. Second, someone fed that systematic misappropriation of ministry.
Third, that is nothing but marketing prophecy. Fourth, that assumes that the people will receive something they find worthy of the value they expended in attending the conference. Fifth, this leader was also expecting this was a significant first step for “building something” through the conference, so recruiting prophecy was part of the intention of the advertising. “If we show them they can get something here they want, they might be willing to become a part of what we are doing. So, the more prophecies that please we can give, the better.”
The error of Balaam was on display.
This has encouraged a form of prophetic training in which “giving a good word” with a response of “give me a high five” becomes a norm for measuring prophetic efficiency.
If people use the prophetic in the same way they use palm reading and tea leaves, the prophetic is just another “peep glass” for “crystal ball” magic. The prophetic is never a Flea Market booth product!
The proverbial “used car salesman” approach comes from this added benefit package of “get a word from someone from out of town because they mean they couldn’t know anything about you from the natural, and their word is, therefore, more accurate and powerful.”
Interesting that the Bible never mentions this aspect of the prophetic at all. Not once does the Bible say, “Always value the word of a stranger more than the word of a father.” Yet, I have heard this kind of statement made over and over by people when a person reads the secrets of the heart as if someone nears you cannot do the same thing better because they have no reason to recruit you.
Prophetic used car salesmen now travel about the country unpacking a suitcase of “you are in a new season” words to people desperate enough for a vehicle to their futures that they will buy something that you fill up with oil and change the gas. (Think about that a moment. It will come to you.)
The woods are full of ’em.
They were trained in used car salesman schools by used car salesman trainers who were just as interested in marketing the prophetic as they were to become adept at the same flea market booth prophecies. Since most people look at the flash on the outside without expertise for the motor on the inside, they will buy what looks and sounds good. They will end up stuck on the side of the road or blocking traffic on the highway at some point, but they buy what the prophet is saying at the time.
If the person doesn’t seem to like the first model, another model will be presented immediately. If the person does like the model, a pricier one will be offered for an up-sell.
Are all prophets like that? No! But, a bunch of them are, and the error of Balaam infiltration is a reality.
Enticement to Rebellion
Wolves entice sheep to rebel. The metaphor does not speak to the meaning of the word “pastor,” or exclusively to the fivefold function of “shepherd.” The metaphor speaks to sheep, shepherd, and wolf as three ways of discussing leadership behavior. Sheep follow leaders: shepherds or wolves.
So, in the metaphor, the excellent leader and the bad leader are contrasted with the specific intention of identifying wolves and keeping sheep with the leader the Owner assigns them.
Wolves separate sheep from the leader the Owner assigns them, and the leader responsible for those sheep confronts the wolves who are whispering in the ears of the sheep.
The wolves use two functional methods: prophecy and teaching. Wolves whisper to sheep by getting close, so they wear sheep’s clothing to look and smell like sheep.
When they whisper, they cover up their growl. So, they look, sound, and smell like sheep but they are leaders.
So, authentic leaders identify the false leaders, separate sheep from the false, and isolate wolves from sheep by whatever means necessary.
At present, the infiltration of Balaam’s error faces so little confrontation that the used car salesmen are flourishing. They are not getting rich because the market is flooded with used car sales associates. So, desperation has set in with the prophetic recruiters. To get ahead in this flea market, you need to sell something bigger and better than the other used car salesmen.
So, you prophesy something outrageous as if prophecy obligates God to show up and show off at your call. You leave the impression that you have God on-call for your flea market booth prophetic school or used car lot.
You have to out-prophesy the other used car salesmen.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch…
The Prophetic Elder
The most effective prophetic ministry comes from someone close enough to you to help you walk out the prophetic revelation with a strategy as revelatory as the prophecy.
The role of the prophetic elder is as foundational as the role of an apostolic father.
And, prophetic elders identify wolves, separate sheep from wolves, and isolate wolves from sheep. Prophetic elders expose the used car salesman’s whispered permission to rebel, stopping the payments to the recruiting frauds.
We shut down the prophetic flea markets by training people to submit to the leaders of their assignments instead of running all over Creation looking for a deal on a vehicle to carry them into their futures.
We should kick over the caldrons of these magic potion sorcerers. We should jerk the sheep’s clothing off these ravenous wolves. We should empty the stalls of the prophetic flea markets, run them out of business, by training sheep to buy from reputable representatives of Jesus.
Training sheep is our assignment. Enticing sheep is the work of hell. Sheep that are easily enticed will wander off when they hear the first whispered permission to rebel comes along. They have their ears perked for the sound. They already smell the greener grass. They are confident the present shepherd is abusive and controlling because he tells them what to eat and drink. They are untrained.
We have lots of training in the prophetic now. Most of it is Balaam bobble-head baloney! It produces flea market booth salesmen, not prophetic elders.
If the school doesn’t mature intercessors, it fails to understand what prophecy is all about. If the school doesn’t graduate groaning birthers of Divine purpose which also hear God for individuals and nations, it is just another powerpoint presentation of self-promotion, card-carrying, “I have a certificate of prophetic training” frauds.
Our best efforts to prove prophets exist and people can prophesy have landed us in a quagmire of prophetic exaggeration, opened the doors for fortune cookie bakeries, and put crystal ball reading outlets in front of prophetic junkies. We now have a used needle crisis.
Prophetic elders have several vital functions for which they are accountable. One of them is the prophetic function. One of them is wolf identification. One of them is training sheep to submit to assigned leadership.
In fact, everything prophetic elders do is opposite what Balaam does. Let’s make that contrast more apparent!