Numbers 22

Numbers 22 gives hope to all of us.  God uses a donkey to deliver a message to one of His priests.  If He can speak through a donkey, I’m sure He can speak through you and me!  Moses has led God’s people to victory over every kingdom that has resisted them, and now “Moab was in great dread of the people, because they were many. Moab was overcome with fear”.  The people of God were moving closer and closer to Moab and king Balak is concerned about how to contain them.  So he sends his men to get Balaam, a man of God who lived nearby.

Come now, curse this people for me, since they are too mighty for me”.  Balak has a direct request for the prophet.  And with his men he sent fees to pay Balaam for doing what he wanted.  Mistake number one is being a prophet for hire.  God doesn’t work that way.  Balaam does the wise thing and seeks God.  “God said to Balaam, You shall not go with them. You shall not curse the people, for they are blessed”.  Hands off God’s people Balaam.  Balaam gives them this message to take back to the king.  “Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the command of the Lord my God to do less or more”.  But they persist and after returning to the king empty handed, they are immediately sent back with more money and to try harder.

So Balaam goes back to God a second time. Second big mistake – he continues to entertain this as an option even though God clearly said no the first time.  This time Balaam believes God tells him it is ok to go with them, just not to say anything.  Did God change his mind?  Nope, but God is going to use this to test and reveal the wickedness of the prophet’s heart.  Balaam gets up and goes with the men to return to Balak and “God’s anger was kindled because he went”.  That’s a bad place to be.  “The angel of the Lord took his stand in the way as his adversary”.  Balaam is riding his normal mode of transportation – his faithful donkey which “saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road, with a drawn sword in his hand”.  God had hidden this from Balaam, but the donkey saw what was about to happen.

“The donkey turned aside out of the road and went into the field….. she pushed against the wall and pressed Balaam’s foot against the wall….she lay down under Balaam”.  Three times the donkey sees God’s angel ready to kill Balaam and takes action to save him.  Each time “Balaam’s anger was kindled, and he struck the donkey with his staff”.  After all, things weren’t going as expected.  Balaam was on his way to see the king and this donkey kept going off course.  But then “the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times”?

That had to get his attention – a talking donkey.  God reveals to him exactly why the donkey had been doing what he did and in fact saving his life.  Balaam confesses his sin and repents and only then is able to continue his journey after hearing God’s direction for him a second time.  As Balaam comes before the king, he makes it clear to Balak that only “The word that God puts in my mouth, that must I speak”.  Balaam isn’t going to make random statements for the sake of the king.  He realizes the importance of his mission.

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