Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings:
Numbers 20-22; Mark 7:1-13
22 Then God became angry because he went. So while he was riding on his donkey accompanied by his two servants, the Lord’s messenger stood in the road as his adversary. 23 The donkey saw the Lord’s messenger standing in the road with his sword drawn in his hand, so the donkey turned from the road and went into the field. Balaam struck the donkey in order to turn him back onto the road. 24 Then the Lord’s messenger stood in the narrow path between vineyards with a stone wall on each side. 25 When the donkey saw the Lord’s messenger, it leaned against the wall and squeezed Balaam’s foot against the wall, so he continued to beat it. 26 The Lord’s messenger persisted and crossed over and stood in a narrow place, where it wasn’t possible to turn either right or left. 27 The donkey saw the Lord’s messenger and lay down underneath Balaam. Balaam became angry and beat the donkey with the rod. 28 Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you that you’ve beaten me these three times?”
29 Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you’ve tormented me. If I had a sword in my hand, I’d kill you now.”
30 The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey, on whom you’ve often ridden to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”
Balaam said, “No.”
31 Then the Lord uncovered Balaam’s eyes, and Balaam saw the Lord’s messenger standing in the road with his sword drawn in his hand. Then he bowed low and worshipped (Numbers 22:22-31, Common English Bible).
I think the story of Balaam and his donkey is one of the most fun passages I have ever preached. In Balaam, we find Jonah, before Jonah, on steroids. Why do I say “on steroids?” It is simple really. Jonah was a reluctant prophet. Balaam was equally unwilling to go to the Israelites. The “on steroids” part is Balaam was not only an unwilling participant, Balaam wasn’t even part of the worshipping community, He may have believed in God but he was one of those, “I can worship God just as well sitting on my donkey,” kind of people.
The story goes that King Balaak was scared to death of the Israelites as they approached his territory, Moab. He had first-hand knowledge of what the Israelites could do so he sent for this guy Balaam to come and curse the Israelites.
Balaam had a donkey that apparently didn’t ever act like a donkey until that day. Three times the donkey started to balk and act like a donkey and each time Balaam made a donkey out of himself by beating the donkey when he had no idea that the donkey was actually protecting him.
That is when the strange stuff starts. As Balaam is beating the poor donkey, the donkey starts to talk and makes Balaam stop beating him. Right after that, two of God’s “Messengers” (some say, angels) appeared, swords drawn, standing and blocking the road. The donkey saw the messengers. Balaam did not. And, working under orders from God, had Balaam passed by, he would have been dead.
Whoever said, “What you don’t know can’t hurt you,” sure as the world got that one wrong. Just ask Balaam. What he didn’t know came pretty close to hurting him. Then his eyes were open and he knew.
Each of us need to pay attention to the things we don’t know. Turns out, they really can hurt us.
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
With Joy and Thankfulness,
Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved