Archive for July 9th, 2009

Numbers 22

Numbers 22 is a great story about the importance of listening. Balak, who was the king of Moab, is freaking out that Moses and the people of Israel are getting close to his country. He has heard about the fact that the Israelites are wiping up as they move and Balak is very concerned that he will be next. So he sends folks to get Balaam, a prophet of God, to come and bless him and curse Moses. Of course Balaam seeks God and is told not to return with these folks to Balak. “Don’t go with them…and don’t curse the others – they are a blessed people”. So Balak, being the fine leader he is, sends some higher ranking people to Balaam. They come with a promise to “honor and reward you lavishly” but Balaam still isn’t buying in. He doesn’t just refuse, he again goes to God to get direction. There is a principle here. Each time there is a question, even if it is the same one, Balaam goes to God. We need to do a whole lot more of that. When decisions come up, if we don’t have a clear answer from God’s Word, we need to be asking.

God does change things a little bit and tells Balaam to go but not say a word. Balaam is definitely tuned in to God as he says “I wouldn’t be able to defy the orders of my God to do anything, whether big or little”. Oh that we had that kind of attitude and desire – to serve God completely whether large or small. So Balaam heads off with these guys to go back to Moab. And suddenly his donkey goes in the ditch. Balaam beats him. Then it happens again, and again Balaam beats the donkey. The third time the donkey comes upon a narrow passage and just sits down. Balaam “lost his temper and beat the donkey with a stick”. But the rest of the story is that there was “an angel of God standing in the road to block his way” three times. Twice he was able to go around, but this third time there was no other way. And this time, “God gave speech to the donkey” and tells Balaam what is going on. Check out the reason: “I have come here to block your way because you’re getting way ahead of yourself”. It wasn’t necessarily that Balaam was doing the wrong thing, but it was the wrong time. The donkey had saved Balaam from the sword of death that the angel was carrying. Balaam immediately confesses to the angel “I have sinned. I had no idea you were standing in the road blocking my way”. How come? Was it just that Balaam was so focused on the end that he missed the path to get there and ultimately missed God? Sometimes we go so fast and go our own path and we may miss God’s instruction along the way. We need to be alert, tuned in, and listening. God will speak to us even if it takes a donkey!

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