(Article for publication week of 10-22- AD 2015)
"Who can count the dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!" (Numbers 23:10).
Our message this week is a solemn one indeed, for our text contains truth spoken by an unsaved man. The words of our text were spoken by the false prophet, Balaam. Balaam was a man who knew much about God, but did not know God. He was a man who understood much truth, yet never received the truth to the saving of his soul. He was a man who preached much truth, as in our text, yet he remained a graceless character. The case of Balaam is a frightening one indeed, and there are many of you that I fear are in the same case. When you first read about Balaam in Numbers chapters 23-25, much of what he says sounds like a true believer. But when we go to the New Testament, all the evidence is that he was lost. I encourage you to go and read these scriptures: Numbers 31:8-16; 2 Peter 2:11-16; Jude 11; and Revelation 2:14. We see by these scriptures that Balaam was not saved. What a tragedy! Balaam understood that the death of the righteous is greatly to be desired, and yet he died unrighteous and has been in hell now for over 3,000 years (as far as we can tell) and won't ever get out (except long enough to stand before the judgment throne of God, and then back down to the lake of fire for eternity). Now dear readers, be warned that knowing about God will not save your soul; you must know God by experience (John 17:3). Knowing the truth will not save you; you must receive the truth, and love it, and walk in it (2 Thessalonians 2:10), if you will be saved. Preaching the truth will not save you, unless you get to know Him Who is truth.
Let us now consider the death of the righteous, and pray that you will die that death, and not die as Balaam, in an unrighteous state. First, we remind you of how delightful the death of the righteous is. The death of the righteous is not the end, but the beginning of a glorious eternity. When the righteous die, they go immediately to be with Christ where He is, in Heaven (2 Corinthians 5:8). When the righteous die, it is with the promise of the resurrection of their bodies (Philippians 3:20-21). No wonder Balaam exclaimed, "let me die the death of the righteous"!
But here is where Balaam missed it: if you will die the death of the righteous, you must be righteous. There is nothing but righteousness in the new heavens and the new earth (2 Peter 3:13), and unrighteous people cannot enter in (Revelation 22:11). Now dear reader do you understand that your righteousness is filthy rags in the sight of God? If you will enter into heaven at last, you must have a perfect righteousness. The only way that you may have that righteousness is by imputation. Those who are saved by Christ have His righteousness imputed to them (2 Corinthians 5:21). Dear reader have you received this robe of righteousness by faith alone? If not, then you are not righteous, and you will not die the death of the righteous.
Secondly, if you will die the death of the righteous, you must live the life of the righteous. The scriptures declare over and over, from Genesis to Revelation that God sanctifies all those whom He justifies, and they will live a holy life. If you imagine that you can live a careless, worldly life and go to heaven when you die, you are greatly deceived my friend. It is only those who walk in the Narrow Way that will have eternal life (Matthew 7:13-14). If you are in the Broad Way, you will be destroyed by the Judge of all the earth. I ask you my friend, are you in the Narrow Way that leads to life? If you are not justified by the imputed righteousness of Christ, and sanctified by the Holy Spirit, you will spend eternity where the fire is not quenched and the worm dieth not! I pray the Lord may have mercy upon some of you that you may die the death of the righteous, and not as Balaam who came close to the Kingdom of God, but never got in!