Angels and talking donkeys!
Numbers 22: 21-35
21 Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the Moabite officials. 22 But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the Lord stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, it turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat it to get it back on the road.
24 Then the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path through the vineyards, with walls on both sides. 25 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam’s foot against it. So he beat the donkey again.
26 Then the angel of the Lord moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left. 27 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat it with his staff. 28 Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?”
29 Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made a fool of me! If only I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.”
30 The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”
“No,” he said.
31 Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lordstanding in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown.
32 The angel of the Lord asked him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me.[a] 33 The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If it had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared it.”
34 Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now if you are displeased, I will go back.”
35 The angel of the Lord said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but speak only what I tell you.” So Balaam went with Balak’s officials.
The story of Balaam and his donkey has been the subject of many a sermon. It’s a classic story that seeks to highlight the fact that too often in life we don’t read the signs properly. This week we’ve been hinting that Abraham’s journey with Isaac was really a journey of faith and expectation. Eventually he is able to see God’s provision.
The story of Ballam is the same. He is on a journey that is not fully supported by God. Yet the scripture tells us that God allowed him to take the journey, but he must only speak that which God had told him to speak. The interesting thing about the story is that Balaam can’t see the angel of the Lord barring his way while his donkey can.
So often in our lives we can think we know best but it is often those who serve us who can see the big picture. Perhaps the ones we would think to be less ‘switched on’ turn out to be more perceptive than we ever imagined.
Look out for the donkeys in your life - they may be trying to tell you something. One thing is for certain, we might be able to make a journey but it is God who determines the destination.
Today I’m aware of my insensitivities
To your voice
And your call.
I don’t always pick up the signs
I guess I also could miss
An angel with a huge sword
I’d try to explain him or her away.
When I’ve not been listening
When I've tried to please everyone
When I’ve sailed close to the wind.
Journey on the road of compromise
Be with all those you are calling to ministry
Those you are calling to serve
Those who need to know your guidance.
Give them a donkey that speaks
And when they’re not listening
Enable the donkeys you are calling to speak
Without fear or favour.
Angels and talking donkeys
What ever next?