Monday, June 1, 2009

God Had a Plan,
Balaam Rebuked by Donkey

Balaam told the messengers from Balak that he could only speak the word God gave him. He allowed the messengers to spend the night, and during the night God spoke to him. In the morning he sent the messengers away, saying, “God will not allow me to go with you and curse those people you want cursed.”

Numbers 22:12 God said to Balaam, "Do not go with them; you shall not curse the people, for they are blessed."

Again, the messengers of Balak came and asked Balaam to go with them to curse the people. Again, Balaam listened overnight for the voice of the Lord. This time the Lord said, “Go with them, but you will only speak that which I give you to speak.” So, in the morning he arose and went with the messengers – but we see from this passage that God was displeased with him for going.

Numbers 22:20 God came to Balaam at night and said to him, "If the men have come to call you, rise up and go with them; but only the word which I speak to you shall you do."

21 So Balaam arose in the morning, and saddled his donkey and went with the leaders of Moab.

22 But God was angry because he was going, and the angel of the LORD took his stand in the way as an adversary against him. Now he was riding on his donkey and his two servants were with him.

Over the years I have to admit to a bit of confusion over this story. Did not the Lord tell him to go? Then why was the Lord angry with him for going? I believe the answer is the attitude of Balaam’s heart. He had heard just enough from God to get reckless. “Yay, God said I could go, so now perhaps I will be able to curse the people and Balak will be happy and give me lots and lots of money! Yay!”

God wasn’t at all happy with him, and sent an angel to stand in the way three times. Balaam wasn’t trying to tune in to what God would say by then, and struck his donkey all three times when she balked at the presence of the angel. Even the voice of the donkey wasn’t enough to get his attention – he actually argued with the donkey, rather than acknowledging that God might be trying to get his attention! When God opened his eyes and he saw the angel, then he finally fell on his face and listened to what God would have to say.

Numbers 22:32 The angel of the LORD said to him, "Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out as an adversary, because your way was contrary to me.

“…because your way was contrary…” I wonder how often I am like Balaam – I hear just enough from God about proceeding, but then I go in a reckless fashion, not really trying to hear more from God about the direction I am headed in. Getting direction is good, but continuing to get more direction is better. If God steps in to block my path, rather than arguing and defending my position, I need to learn to step back and simply allow Him to resume control. If Balaam had been pursuing the heart of God, he would have stopped to get more direction at the donkey’s first balk.

Well, I really don’t want to be like Balaam and I am sure you don’t either. We can learn more about his heart and attitude from a few verses in the New Testament:

2 Peter 2:15 forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;
16 but he received a rebuke for his own transgression, for a mute donkey, speaking with a voice of a man, restrained the madness of the prophet.

Jude 1:11 Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.

Revelation 2:14 'But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality.

By the way, the people that Balak wanted Balaam to curse for him just happened to be Israel. The words that God put in Balaam’s mouth several times while he was with Balak were words of blessing for His people, Israel, with cursing reserved for the enemies of Israel. I’m glad God’s plan is to bless His people – Israel, and now Christians as well, because Israel is the family we have been adopted into. How wonderful is the blessing of God on His people!

Job 42:1-2Then Job answered the LORD and said, "I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.



Anonymous said...

This is awesome, I was struggling with this story myself and your explanation was really exactly what I was looking for. Not only was it clear, you backed up what you were saying with verses and that makes a huge difference. I really appreciate you posting this - thanks very much!

Anonymous said...

I just realized this original post was from 2009! ha, that's never know who the things you say (or type)will impact - or WHEN that impact will happen, but it still happens. Like throwing a pebble in a pond and then walking away before you get to see how far the ripples go! Really fantastic. God is good!