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Whoa! Balaam’s Donkey – Numbers 22:21-38

Whoa! Balaam’s Donkey – Numbers 22:21-38

In the Shrek movies, Donkey doesn’t stop talking! In the Bible, Balaam’s donkey started talking to him. Here’s how it happened.

God rescued his people Israel from slavery in Egypt. After 40 years of wandering, the Israelites reached the plains of Moab. They were close to entering the promised land.

Now King Balak of Moab feared the Israelites might invade his country. So he sent messengers to ask a sorcerer named Balaam to come and put a curse on Israel.

At first Balaam said “No!”,  But the second time, God told Balaam he could go with them, “but do only what I tell you.” (Numbers 22:20 NIV).

On the way, Balaam’s donkey saw the Lord’s angel with a drawn sword standing in their path. The donkey turned into a paddock, and Balaam gave it a beating.

The second time the animal saw the angel, it pressed against a wall, crushing Balaam’s foot. Again he beat his donkey. The third time the donkey saw the angel, it lay down under Balaam. He beat his donkey again.

At that, 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?” (Numbers 22:28 NIV). Balaam is so mad that he’s not even amazed! He answers, “You’ve made a fool of me. If I had a sword in my hand, I’d kill you right now!”

Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes to see the angel standing on the road with his sword drawn. The angel asks Balaam, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one. The donkey saw me these three times and got out of my way — saving your life! Otherwise I would have killed you!”

Balaam is sorry for his actions. He offers to go home, but the angel of the Lord tells him, “Go with the men, but speak only what I tell you!” (Numbers 22:35 NIV). When Balaam arrives in Moab, instead of cursing the people of Israel he ends up blessing them — three times!

What’s the Good News of this story? 

Sometimes animals can sense things that we humans can’t. If they’re acting strangely, God might be warning us of danger.

God cares for animals. When we have pets, we are to look after them.

God cares for his people — he made sure that Balaam blessed Israel.

God’s blessings come to us through Jesus. God has spoken to ALL people — not through a donkey, but though his Son, Jesus.  His words and actions bring God’s blessings into our lives. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, he has forgiven our failures, saved us from death, brought us into God’s family, and given us life with God forever.

Pr Rolly Stahl