Thursday, June 20, 2013

Balaam & the Donkey

We saw these two handsome donkeys standing on the side of the road in Custer State Park, South Dakota.  They'll help us imagine Balaam's donkey.  I've always been fascinated by the story of Balaam and the talking donkey.  I mean, this is something that really happened -- a donkey spoke in words like a man speaks!  Don't you find that utterly extraordinary!

What is so beautiful about this whole thing is the reminder that God can do anything He chooses to do.  He can bend nature to His will, even to causing a dumb animal to speak to Balaam, a dumb bird to deliver food to Elijah, and hungry lions to behave like tame kittens around Daniel.  That's my heavenly Father who is almighty and omnipotent.  What a wonderful assurance!

In case you don't remember the story in Numbers 22, here's how it goes:  Balaam was an ungodly prophet who was asked to put a curse on Moses and the wandering Israelites by an ungodly king.  A lot of stuff happens (you should really read the chapter), but in the end, Balaam is riding his donkey, accompanied by the king's men, to go and meet the king.  All of a sudden, the donkey veers off the path.  Balaam strikes his animal and tries to get him back on the road.  Instead, the animal veers off more and crushes Balaam's foot against a wall.  When Balaam continued to strike the animal, the donkey lay down on the road. 

Now, Balaam is really angry at the donkey and he starts beating him.  At this point, the donkey looks up at Balaam, opens his mouth and speaks, saying, "What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?"  About this time, I'd be freaking out, but Balaam simply talks back to the donkey (as if this is an everyday occurrance!?!?!), saying, "Because you have abused me.  I wish there were a sword in my hand, for now I would kill you!" 

Then, the donkey answers back, "Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden, ever since I became yours, to this day?  Was I ever disposed to do this to you?"  Can't you just see Balaam standing there, listening to the donkey speak, thinking about his previous behavior, and then calmly saying, "No."  I feel like saying, "Hello!  A donkey is carrying on a conversation with you!"

Okay, I'll let that go, because a further amazing thing happened next:  The Lord opened Balaam's spiritually blinded eyes and he saw the Angel of the Lord who was standing in the way with his drawn sword in his hand.  At least Balaam had the good sense to fall flat on his face before the angel.  Then the angel explained how the donkey had actually saved Balaam's life by stopping in the road.

So, what is the moral of this story?  For one thing, if an animal speaks to you, take it seriously, please!  But, more importantly, we need to be sensitive to God's voice.  We want to hear Him when He speaks.  We need listening ears and seeing eyes.  Don't miss out on hearing the voice of God and receiving a blessing from Him because it isn't packaged the way that you expect it to be.

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Sandra! It is one of my favorite stories, also, because things aren't always as they seem. You can just imagine a video of this going viral on You Tube! This guy actually talks to and carries on a conversation with a donkey! THEN he sees the reality--the spiritual reality--of the angel in the road. Wow! I have my serious doubts that God would choose to use talking donkeys today. But, the spiritual truth is just as big today as then. Balaam should have listened to GOD.


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