Daily Archives: March 1, 2019

Numbers 22-25 & Acts 20

In today’s reading, the story of Balaam and the donkey stood out to me.  As a Kindergarten teacher at a Christian school, I tell my students about this each year.  Balaam was not obedient to the Lord by going to a place He did not want him to go and for the wrong reasons.  So God intervened in a unique way:

“But God’s anger was kindled because he went, and the angel of the Lord took his stand in the way of his adversary.  Now he was riding on the donkey, and his two servants were with him.  And the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road, with a drawn sword in his hand. And the donkey turned aside out of the road and went into the field.  And Balaam struck the donkey, to turn her into the road.” (Numbers 22:22-23 ESV)

Notice that the donkey saw the angel, not Balaam the person, but the animal.

“Then the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path between the vineyards, with a wall on either side.  And when the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she pushed against the wall and pressed Balaam’s foot against the wall.  So he struck her again.” (Numbers 22:24-25 ESV)

The donkey is trying very hard to stay put, but Balaam is becoming more and more frustrated and angry with her.

Then the angel of the Lord went ahead and stood in a narrow place, where there was no way to turn either to the right or to the left.  When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she lay down under Balaam.  And Balaam’s anger was kindled and he struck the donkey with his staff.” (Numbers 22:26-27 ESV)

Then the Lord took it a step further and had the donkey question Balaam.

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 three times?  And Balaam said to the donkey, ‘Because you have made a fool of me.  I wish I had a sword in my hand, for then I would kill you.’  And the donkey said to Balaam, ‘am I not your donkey which you have ridden all your life long to this day?  Is it my habit to treat you this way?’  And he said, ‘no.'” (Numbers 22:28-30 ESV)

God made a donkey talk to help soften Balaam’s heart.  It doesn’t seem to surprise him that this happened.  They are having an ordinary conversation.  Finally, Balaam’s eyes are opened to what transpired.

Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, with his drawn sword in his hand. And he bowed down and fell on his face.  And the angel of the Lord said to him, ‘Why have you struck your donkey three times?  Behold, I have come out to oppose you because your way is perverse before me.  The donkey saw me and turned aside before me these three times.  If she had not turned aside from me, surely just now I would have killed you and let her live.’  Then Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, ‘I have sinned for I did not know that you stood in the road against me.  Now therefore, if it is evil in your sight, I will turn back.’  And the angel of the Lord said to Balaam, ‘Go with the men but speak only the word that I tell you.’  So Balaam went on with the princes of Balak.” (Numbers 22:31-35 ESV)

After he saw the angel of the Lord, Balaam was repentant and honestly tried to do the right thing this time.  In God’s mercy, he let him go on his way unharmed with only directions of what to say.

Lord, help us to learn from this story that your way is the better way.  When we try to take matters into our own hands, we would be lucky to have a “talking animal” stand in our defense.  May we always rely on You and not our pride in making decisions.

Amen, Kellie

 

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