Saturday, May 26, 2012

When a Donkey Speaks, You Better Listen!

Today's Reading:
  • Numbers 22:21 - 23:30
  • Proverbs 11:12 - 13
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Numbers 22:21 - 23:30
Our last reading left off with Balaam ready to journey to meet the Moab king.  Balaam road a donkey for the journey, but God was angry that Balaam was going and wanted to remind him of that fact.  Therefore, he sent an angel of God to block the road. 

Balaam did not see the angel of God, but his donkey did.  The donkey refused three times, and each time the donkey refused, Balaam got angry and beat the donkey.  I laughed when I read what happened next in verse 22:28 -- the Lord gave the donkey the ability to speak!  Can you image if an animal suddenly started to speak to you? 

The donkey spoke to Balaam and asked why Balaam had beat it three times.  I would imagine that Balaam would have been shocked to have it speak, but instead Balaam simply replied that the donkey had made him seem a fool.  The donkey and Balaam continued to converse, until Balaam finally saw the angel of God that was blocking the way.

When Balaam saw the angel, he fell to the ground and announced his sin.  Balaam told the angel he would return home then if that was God's will.  Instead, Balaam was told to go to Moab but only to speak the words that the Lord would give to him.

Balaam met with Balak, and Balak was angry that Balaam had not come sooner.  Balaam told Balak that he has come, but he did not have the power to just send a curse onto those people.  He would only speak what the Lord told him to say.

Balak took Balaam to oversee some of the people and send down a curse.  Balaam ordered for seven alters to be built and called for animals to be sacrificed at those alters.  Then Balaam went to converse with the Lord.  Balaam returned with a message to Balak, a message that stated that these people were sons of Jacob, and they were blessed, not cursed.

Balak was angry, and took Balaam to a second spot.  Once again, Balaam ordered the alters and the sacrifices.  Once again, the Lord told Balaam that the people were not to be cursed.  Balak then decided to take Balaam to a third place to see if it pleased the Lord more to curse the people from there.  The reading ends as the alters are being built.

Balak apparently didn't understand the Lord very well.  When the Lord tells us not to do something, that instruction is final.  The Lord is not going to change his mind if we approach from a different direction, or if we try another line of reasoning.

I wonder if Balaam will stay strong against Balak, or if he will give into temptation. 

Proverbs 11:12 - 13
12  It is foolish to belittle one's neighbor; a sensible person keeps quiet.
13  A gossip goes around telling secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence.
 The message here is quite simple -- don't gossip against people.  Don't belittle them behind their backs.  Be sensible.  And if you can't be sensible with your mouth open, then just be quiet.

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