I am led to read ancient history and ponder further on the meanings of names and the destiny of a man changes with the choices he makes. The choices one makes in the physical realm impact the spiritual and open spiritual doors to life and death. Blessings turn to curses. Honor turns to shame. But God is merciful and allows repentance.
In the case of Aaron: he was duly inaugurated as the prestigious first high priest for the nation of Israel by Moses according to very detailed instructions (commands) given by God. It was a whole life appointment with hereditary continuation for his descendants to all generations after him. But on the very day of this inauguration his two elder sons took the matters lightly, did not know the importance to strictly follow the words of God, which are spiritual and not carnal. They used their own flesh (human ways and desires) to serve the holy God. Of course they were instantly killed by a consuming fire.
God’s words have spiritual implications and are not to be taken as man’s words. Jesus has declared, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24) Jesus also warned, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words I speak to you are spirit and they are life.”
Aaron’s response: Aaron has learned from the tragedy. He accepted it and continued to submit to God and align with God’s words. His two younger sons followed his godly example and succeeded this prestigious hereditary appointment by God. The curse turned to blessing. Shame turned to honor, just as his name meant to him, exalted.
In the case of Balaam: he was given a chance to repent too. God allowed the donkey to see the angel with the drawn sword against Balaam and thus saved him from death. But Balaam did not repent. he continued to the way of self-destruction, just as his name meant to him, destroyer. He caused destruction to himself.
What the two events meant to us: the two names were interspersed with mountain and valley. Aaron started at the highest lofty mountain top, then he fell to the lowest valley spot (in the eyes of the Jewish congregation), but he soon recovered through obedience to God, and was restored to the originally exalted position again.
Balaam started on high position too. He could see the superficial spiritual realm and seemed to understand the matters of God’s plan for Israel. He also seemed to know God’s unchangeability, unlike man. But he fell to the bottom when he decided to follow the dictate of his heart which was filled with greed for wealth and power. He was nearly killed by the angel of death during the first incidence of his attempt to go and curse Israel because Israel’s enemy was willing to pay him a large sum. But because of his faithful donkey which could see the angel and saved his life twice, the mercy of God spared Balaam. God gave him a chance to repent and turn to the true God. But he preferred to worship mammon, worked for the enemy of Israel to kill many Israelites, until he himself perished at war.
We too experience high and low in our Christian walk. Our individual choices (regardless of names) make the key difference between honor and shame, life and death.
“The children of Israel also killed with the sword Balaam the son of Beor, the soothsayer, among those who were killed by them.” (Joshua 13:22)