King Balak, the Moabite, was in such distress after the Israelites destroyed the surrounding cities in his land, that he sent messengers to petition Balaam, the oracle, to come to Moab specifically to curse Israel. However, Balaam understood that he could only curse those that God allowed him to curse; so at first, he refuses the king’s proposal. Yet, the king simply dismisses his refusal and raises the bounty. Lured by the promise of prestige, honor, and wealth, Balaam petitions God yet again, asking if he can fulfill the king's request to curse Israel. God tells him once again not to go to Moab to curse his blessed nation. However, with much thought and stubborn resistance, he leaves his home to pursue the goal of cursing Israel for the king.
Like Balaam, there are times when we earnestly petition God for an answer, yet we stubbornly ignore His response to our plea because we dislike His response. Balaam saddles his favorite donkey and embarks towards the city of Moab. However, unbeknownst to Balaam, God has sent an angel, armed with a sword in hand, to kill him if he persists in traveling the road to Moab. Although Balaam cannot see the angel standing in the middle of the road determined to seal his fate for disobedience, his donkey clearly sees the angel and the sword. In fear, the donkey turns off the main road onto a vineyard path. But again, the angel is standing in the way, armed and ready.
It is interesting that the donkey, a modern-day symbol of stubbornness, is then beaten by Balaam in anger for veering off the road in disobedience to him, his master. The donkey takes yet a different path where walls line the road on both sides, but he sees the angel again standing with his sword drawn. Not having room on either side of the angel to move forward, he plows himself into the wall, falling to the ground. Balaam, angrier than he was the first two times the animal veered off the road, beats the donkey again and threatens to kill him. God opens the mouth of the donkey to speak to Balaam, his master; and then, opens the eyes of Balaam to see the angel with the sword standing in the road ready to kill him.
Note that Balaam, as the master, readily beat his donkey, and was ready to kill him for his disobedience. Yet God, as Master, had more compassion on Balaam, allowing him to see the angel that stood ready to kill him for his own disobedience.
Many times in our ignorance and disobedience we defy God’s response to our desire, literally placing our very lives at risk. Simply because we have petitioned God for a positive answer to something that appears desirable to us, not understanding that it is not in the Will of God. In our modern world, the story of Balaam would be like getting into your car, traveling a few blocks, determined to do what you clearly know you should not do, and your car gets a flat tire. So, you fix the flat, and a few miles later, the car breaks down. Then, you get the car fixed, determined to continue with your agenda, and the next thing you know, you get into a major car accident; or worse, someone is reading your eulogy.
If we are going to ask for an answer, let’s pay attention to the response and obey. If not, it’s best that we do not ask if we are not going to listen. At least in not asking, maybe we can plead ignorance. Because, anytime we decide to do something that God does not want us to do, like Balaam’s donkey, He can use anyone or anything to prompt us back in the right direction. Or, like the armed angel, to stop us dead in our tracks. L.
Study Reference: Numbers 22:12-13, Numbers 22:21-34
From:"Not Listening, Not Seeing." In The Master's Hands: 365 Daily Devotions for Everyday Living
Copyright © 2014 by Lavona E. Campbell
photo: crazy frankenstein