When Donkeys Talk we Aught to Listen.
EF Hutton commercials…
When God speaks, people listen.
But… we have free will. We can choose to listen or we can choose to ignore God and do our own thing.
Sometimes our plan doesn’t line up with God’s plan but fighting against God is never ends well.
God will get our attention in whatever way HE sees fit because HE loves us and HIS plan is always the absolute best.
Sometimes things change, people change, our economy will change, the political power is going to change.
Nobody likes change… ask Sears, Montgomery Wards, Toys-R-Us, K-Mart… ask the person in the mirror… but the truth is, change is inevitable.
One thing that will never change is God. HIS promises and HIS Word will remain steadfast and when we build our life on HIS standards we will see blessing regardless of how our world changes.
Nobody wants to set ourselves up for failure, everybody wants to be successful.
When failure is inevitable we feel trapped, we feel defeated, and we will do whatever it takes to escape the inevitable. We want survive even if yielding to God’s plan is not our first option.
In Numbers 22, we see a side story within the greater/main story.
The Main story is the blessing and success of God’s people, the Israelites as they are coming from Egypt and heading to the promise land in Caanan.
The side story is 2 of the nations that are under God’s judgement and will eventually be overtaken by God’s promised people, these are the Moabites and the Midianites. They sense that something really bad is going to happen as they watch this massive nation come through their valley in the wilderness.
Israel had already defeated Sihon and Og and they were heading toward the valley of Moab.
The story is set up with Balak, the son of the king of Moab. He begins to feel the pressure of the inevitable. Moab was going to be overtaken by Israel unless God intervenes on their behalf.
Numbers 22:4 (NIV)
4 The Moabites said to the elders of Midian, “This horde is going to lick up everything around us, as an ox licks up the grass of the field.”
They were desperate for a supernatural move against this horde that was coming to devour them up. They were looking for somebody to curse these people so Balak found out about Balaam.
Balaam was a well known prophet from Mesopotamia who was well know in Moab as someone who spoke blessings and curses over people and nations.
Balak set some of his messengers with a fee of divination and summoned for Balaam.
Balak sent this message to Balaam...
Numbers 22:5–6 (NIV)
“A people has come out of Egypt; they cover the face of the land and have settled next to me. 6 Now come and put a curse on these people, because they are too powerful for me. Perhaps then I will be able to defeat them and drive them out of the land. For I know that whoever you bless is blessed, and whoever you curse is cursed.”
Oh… by the way, there is a large some of money involved. If you do this you will be paid well. So Balaam did the christian thing and said, let me pray about it.
So they spent the night, and Balaam sought the Lord.
Numbers 22:9–12 (NIV)
9 God came to Balaam and asked, “Who are these men with you?” 10 Balaam said to God, “Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, sent me this message: 11 ‘A people that has come out of Egypt covers the face of the land. Now come and put a curse on them for me. Perhaps then I will be able to fight them and drive them away.’ ”
12 But God said to Balaam, “Do not go with them. You must not put a curse on those people, because they are blessed.”
Balaam said sorry man, I can’t help you go back home.
But Balak was determined and desperate so he sent another group to Balaam who was more numerous and more distinguished then the first group.
Numbers 22:16–17 (NIV)
16 They came to Balaam and said: “This is what Balak son of Zippor says: Do not let anything keep you from coming to me, 17 because I will reward you handsomely and do whatever you say. Come and put a curse on these people for me.”
I will give you more money just come with us and curse these people.
Then Balaam said
18 But Balaam answered them, “Even if Balak gave me all the silver and gold in his palace, I could not do anything great or small to go beyond the command of the Lord my God. 19 Now spend the night here so that I can find out what else the Lord will tell me.”
I think the Lord was clear the first time. Maybe God changed HIS mind about this? Maybe I didn’t hear HIM correctly the first time?
20 That night God came to Balaam and said, “Since these men have come to summon you, go with them, but do only what I tell you.”
Did God change HIS mind? No, God was very clear the first time however, God will allow us to do what we want to do even if it’s against God’s Word.
God will not stop us from making poor decisions that are contrary to HIS plan for us.
These people were determined and were persuasive. I’m sure the money was tempting for Balaam… so Balaam went with them.
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.
First time, Balaam missed what the donkey noticed. It was in the middle of the road and he missed it.
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.
Balaam was frustrated with his donkey because he humiliated him 3 times. This donkey hurt his foot all because he thought this donkey was going crazy.
But his donkey saw something in the middle of the road, that Balaam missed. He was too distracted, to worried about doing his own thing, to consumed with the paycheck, he was thinking about his own pride.
What’s ironic is that for somebody who wanted to hear from God and obey HIS voice, he missed what was standing right in front of HIM.
God spoke to Balaam twice, yet he was still spiritually unaware. He did not understand the significant of this moment. Balaam was blinded by greed, by pride, by flattery. All these important people wanted to meet with me, they wanted my services. Because Balaam was so focused on himself he missed what God was trying to say. 3 times… yet he still missed it.
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?”
When God has to speak through a donkey to get our attention, you know things are bad.
It’s bad when your donkey talks but it’s really bad when you talk back to your donkey.
Numbers 22:29–31 (NIV)
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 Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown.
The donkeys are known for their dullness and stupidity, yet was shown to have more spiritual insight than the super-prophet from Mesopotamia… whom Balak was prepared to hire at enormous expense to curse Israel. Yet this numb-skulled, money-grubbing, heathen seer was inspired by the Spirit of God with a vision of Israel’s future destiny… which was truly messianic in its dimensions.
Yet he misses what is standing right in front of him. Balaam’s donkey was protecting Balaam from certain death.
Have you ever missed something that was standing right in front of you? Your keys… my mom with her clapper.
When driving sometimes you miss the obvious a car that is right in front of you, a deer that is on the side of the road, or most importantly a speed limit sign.
Speed traps in small towns where you go from 55 to 25 and there is no warning.
We give Balaam a hard time but we often miss the obvious because we are distracted.
God can uses anyone to speak HIS word.
God can uses anyone to speak HIS word.
As God opens the donkey’s mouth, so he will put HIS words in Balaam’s to declare HIS will. This parallelism between Balaam and his donkey suggests that the ability to declare God’s word is not necessarily a sign of Balaam’s righteousness but that God can use anyone to be HIS spokesman.
Throughout the Bible, prophecy and other spiritual gifts are regarded as signs of inspiration, but not necessarily of holiness or of a right standing with God.
False prophets may accurately foretell the future (Deut. 13:1–5).
Though condemned to lose his throne, Saul still prophesied (1 Sam. 19:23–24).
Caiaphas prophesied the death of Christ (John 11:51–52).
Jewish exorcists cast out demons in Jesus’ name without believing in him (Mark 9:38–39; Acts 9:13–16).
The Corinthian church was long on emotional spiritual experience but short on love, holiness and sound doctrine (1 Cor. 1–15).
Jesus warned that on the last day neither prophecy, exorcism nor miracles would guarantee entry to the kingdom of heaven, only ‘he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven’ (Matt. 7:21–23).
If God can uses a donkey to speak HIS Word HE can uses anybody.
Hearing God’s word and speaking God’s Word are important but obeying God’s Word is everything.
1 Samuel 15:22 (NIV)
22 “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
Don’t miss God the first time.
Simply rest in HIM, trust in HIM and walk in obedience.
Don’t wait for a donkey to get your attention.
What is God using to get your attention? Parents, tragedy,