Stubborn as a prophet - 11 October 2018

Xanthe Hancox

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.When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat it with his staff. 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?”  Numbers 22:26-28

Donkeys aren’t usually known for their wisdom and discernment, we tend think of them as stubborn and slightly silly creatures; I immediately think of Eddie Murphy’s character in the animated movie Shrek. Balaam’s donkey, however, turns the stereotype on its head.

Balaam was intent on following his own path. King Balak was the enemy of Israel. He believed that if Balaam would curse Israel, he could defeat Israel. God had already told Balaam not to go to Balak, and although Balaam obeyed God at first, greed and ego eventually got the better of him.

God sent a sword-wielding angel to block Balaam’s path, but though Balaam was a great seer of God, he could not see what his donkey could. Oblivious to what’s right in front of him, Balaam stupidly whacks the animal repeatedly until eventually, God gives the donkey a voice to put an end to Balaam’s madness (you can read the full account in Numbers 22:21-41).

His ambition had blinded him to the point where he was convinced that his loyal steed was the problem.  The problem was not the donkey. The problem was not the angel who was causing the donkey to behave this way. And the problem was not God.

Often, what we think is a hindrance is God’s way of protecting us. When we’re honest with ourselves and God, the person causing a lot of the frustration and anger in our lives is ourselves and our stubborn unwillingness to obey God.

Prayer: Lord, like Balaam, we so often persist in following our own destruction path. Forgive us. Help us to listen to you today as you speak to us through your Spirit. Amen

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