This week, we studied one of the Bible's many miraculous passages-the story of Balaam and his talking donkey.
Perhaps you were fortunate enough to have a living, four-legged donkey in your service, but there was no animal entertainment Saturday evening.
Miles realizes Mr. Ed was a horse and not a donkey, but Mr. Ed was the closest thing he could find in popular culture to open his teaching. Horsing around aside, this week Miles wants us to consider who we will be a faithful "Mr. Ed" to.
Three Key Players
The main characters in Numbers 22 are Balaam the prophet; Balaam's donkey, who could speak and also see God when Balaam could not; and the Angel of the Lord. (When Christ appears in the Old Testament, He is called a theophany. Whenever we see "Angel of the Lord" in capital letters, it's an appearance of Jesus.) Notice that Balak, King of Moab, is not a main character. Sorry, Balak, but this ain't about you.
Numbers 22:3 tells us that Moab was exceedingly afraid of the [children of Israel] because they were many, and Moab was sick with dread...
Balak, King of Moab, was afraid the children of Israel were going to take his land and devour everything in it. This is a far cry from the report of the twelve spies back in Numbers 13.
But that was 30 years ago, and Balak is afraid now. So he sends for Balaam, a prophet, to curse the children of Israel, because "I [Balak] know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed."
Compare that to God's words in Genesis 12:3a.
Did God Change His Mind?
Balaam did hear from God. God told Balaam, You shall not curse the people, for they are blessed. Numbers 22:12
Balaam tells this to Balak, but instead of giving up, Balak redoubles his efforts and sends even more "honorable" servants to Balaam and promised him a "house full of silver and gold." God indulged Balaam with another word from Him, but when Balaam did what God told him not to do, God was very angry. Numbers 22:22
Not only was God's anger aroused, but He dispatched the Angel of the Lord to stand as an adversary against Balaam. This is when we read that Balaam's donkey saw the Angel of the Lord, although Balaam could not.
Miles tells us that just like the donkey was able to see God when Balaam could not, we are to stay in constant contact with God, so that He will show us the things He wants us to see, even when others cannot see.
The donkey wouldn't go forward, for the Angel of the Lord blocked her way. She crushed Balaam's foot against the wall and finally sat down under Balaam. Balaam hit her three times, and finally she says, "What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?"Is Balaam speechless or shocked? No! He proceeds to have a conversation with the donkey! See
The Angel of the Lord Appears to Balaam
Next we read that the Lord opened Balaam's eyes and he saw the Angel of the Lord.
Balaam immediately fell on his face, as people often did when an angel appeared. But this Angel doesn't say "arise, do not worship me." This is an excellent example of close reading of God's Word: our attention is drawn to what it doesn't say. The Angel of the Lord didn't tell Balaam to rise and not worship Him, because the Angel of the Lord is God, and He is worthy of our worship.
When Balaam's eyes were opened, he took action and fell on his face to worship God. When God shows us something, we need to take action, too.
Being a Faithful Donkey
How do we do that? Like Balaam's donkey, we open our mouths. We speak the word that God has given us.
Our memory verse this week is Numbers 22:38a: The word that God puts in my mouth, that I must speak.
Has God given you a word to speak to someone to stop them in their tracks before they sin against the Lord? Maybe that someone is you. If God has shown you something and given you words to speak to someone before that person sins, be faithful to God's urging. Do it in love. God doesn't want us to be the "clanging cymbal" of 1 Corinthians 13:1. Expect your blood pressure to rise. You will be nervous. But don't be surprised when God's purpose is accomplished because of your faithfulness. He's told us that His Word does not return to Him void, Isaiah 55:11, and that Love never fails, 1 Corinthians 13:8.