In reading the story of Balaam, it is difficult to see what he may have done wrong. Indeed, based on this record alone, he seems like an upstanding guy. Therefore, we can only speculate as to what his error might have been.
However, there are several other references to Balaam in the Bible. These all portray him in a negative light. Consider that Balaam:
- Practiced divination (and was ultimately killed for doing so).
- Taught and advised Israel’s enemies on how to distract them from God and sin against him.
- Was willing to do the wrong thing, as long as there was remuneration.
- Tried to curse Israel, which God turned it into a blessing. (This would explain why the king gave him three chances to issue a curse and why the king blamed God for Balaam not receiving his promised reward).
This certainly provides a different view of Balaam. Apparently he wasn’t so good after all. As such, he exemplifies an ungodly man within the church, just as Jude said.