Numbers 22:1,2,6,12,13,16-20,22,28,32,33,37 Then the people of Israel traveled to the plains of Moab and camped east of the Jordan River, across from Jericho. Balak son of Zippor, the Moabite king, had seen everything the Israelites did to the Amorites... "Please come and curse these people for me because they are too powerful for me. Then perhaps I will be able to conquer them and drive them from the land. I know that blessings fall on any people you bless, and curses fall on people you curse”... But God told Balaam, “Do not go with them. You are not to curse these people, for they have been blessed!” The next morning Balaam got up and told Balak’s officials, “Go on home! The Lord will not let me go with you”... They went to Balaam and delivered this message to him: “This is what Balak son of Zippor says: Please don’t let anything stop you from coming to help me. I will pay you very well and do whatever you tell me. Just come and curse these people for me!” But Balaam responded to Balak’s messengers, “Even if Balak were to give me his palace filled with silver and gold, I would be powerless to do anything against the will of the Lord my God. But stay here one more night, and I will see if the Lord has anything else to say to me.” That night God came to Balaam and told him, “Since these men have come for you, get up and go with them. But do only what I tell you to do”... But God was angry that Balaam was going, so he sent the angel of the Lord to stand in the road to block his way. As Balaam and two servants were riding along... Then the Lord gave the donkey the ability to speak. “What have I done to you that deserves your beating me three times?” it asked Balaam... “Why did you beat your donkey those three times?” the angel of the Lord demanded. “Look, I have come to block your way because you are stubbornly resisting me. Three times the donkey saw me and shied away; otherwise, I would certainly have killed you by now and spared the donkey”... “Didn’t I send you an urgent invitation? Why didn’t you come right away?” Balak asked Balaam. “Didn’t you believe me when I said I would reward you richly?” Balaam replied, “Look, now I have come, but I have no power to say whatever I want. I will speak only the message that God puts in my mouth.”
A bizarre story it seems and what is with all the confusion about God saying go and then threatening Balaam with death when he does go? How does this relate to us today?
When I first read the chapter, I was intrigued by Balaam because the rulers sought his support and wanted him on their side before they went into battle.
Balaam seemed to have found favor with God that he could bless or curse anyone and God would honor it. Sounds like a man God had chosen and empowered.
The fear in the Moabites was fully understandable because of the 2 million plus Israelites who were approaching their land like a vast army.
From the heights of their castles, the 12 tribes of Israel walking in formation towards them certainly made them fear for their lives because they knew their lands and cattle would never be able to support both people groups together.
This prompted the Moabite king to consider retaliation but not without the bonus of having Balaam curse the Israelites so that they would be weak and flee from his lands.
Balaam thankfully shows God respect when he is first approached by the king's emissaries and seeks God's face and favor. When God cautioned him, he flat refused to support the Moabites in their retaliation.
The Moabite king would not take no for an answer and offers Balaam significantly more in rewards if he would support him and this offer is presented a second time to Balaam.
Balaam first refuses but in light of the big reward decides to ask God again just to be sure and God in His anger tells him to go with the emissary back but not to say anything without his approval.
It seems like God supported Balaam's request but in reality God was angered by it because when God said no the first time, He meant NO. God's word is final and there is no negotiation with God on what He speaks.
The journey Balaam undertook to reap the rich rewards on offer was one that was done in defiance to God and therefore the angel of the Lord stood in his way with a sword in readiness to kill him if he continued.
It finally took the donkey to speak with Balaam before God opened his eyes to understand what was going on. Even the donkey could see that which a spiritual man like Balaam could not because he was blinded by the material rewards on offer rather than doing what God had instructed him to do.
This chapter speaks volumes to us today because we are like Balaams when we seek that which gives us joy regardless of whether it is from God or glorifies God.
Oftentimes we get these 'opportunities' out of the blue and believe they are for our blessing and run after them, only to be burnt by them.
God is calling us to seek Him before we fall prey to the ploys of the evil one and when God directs us, we have no room to negotiate a 'better' deal because God's word is final.
I pray we will not let the donkeys of this world shame us when the pride in our eyes have fooled us and when we are corrected, that we would like Balaam repent and obey God for His glory.
In His Loving Service,
If you would like to know about Jesus, then please click here.