Scripture: Numbers 22:7-35
Key verse: (23) “The donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road . . .”
Reflection: Today’s passage includes a miraculous folk-tale about a talking donkey, but the most important part of the narrative concerns Balaam who was basically hired as a diviner. In the ancient world a diviner was someone who had special powers to curse or bless or predict the future, acting as a prophet. The king of the Moabites, Balak wanted Balaam to put a curse on the Israelites because he was afraid that they would literally take everything from him – land, animals and food. It’s interesting that even though Balaam was a pagan, he listened to the LORD. This is an important point throughout chapters 22-24 in Numbers. Even though Balaam followed God’s initial instructions, the text says that God became angry with him. It’s a bit confusing. But, what isn’t confusing is how the LORD uses whoever the LORD chooses to speak – even a donkey. This is a fanciful tale in some ways. It’s humorous that Balaam’s donkey spoke to him and that they had a conversation without Balaam asking how the donkey suddenly was able to speak. But, God can use anyone and anything to fulfil God’s will. Balaam’s eyes were opened and he saw the angel of the LORD. From that point on, he would speak the words the LORD gave him.
I wonder how many times we are sure of our course of action and when it is interrupted we curse whatever is getting in our way. Balaam cursed his donkey, beat it and even wanted to kill it. His animal could see something he could not. Sometimes we have to be tested and tried in order to take the words of the LORD seriously. Balaam confessed his sin and submitted himself to God.
You and I may not encounter God in this way, but I wonder how many opportunities we have missed because we couldn’t see the LORD right in front of us. How many times have we thought we were doing God’s will only to find out that our pride was getting in the way? By the end of Chapter 23 in Numbers, Balaam has fully embraced God’s leading by saying: “Did I not tell you, ‘Whatever the LORD says, that is what I must do’?” (v. 26) What might happen if we started each day listening for the LORD and then acted according to what the LORD calls us to do?
Prayer: O, LORD, our God. We are grateful that you use all manner of things to speak your word. Help us to listen and look for you in our lives as we seek to follow you. Remind us today of your great love. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Author: Deborah Conner
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].