The story of Balaam and the talking donkey is humorous plus it really happened. If you are middle aged or older, you are very likely to remember the movie that starred Francis the talking mule. Did you know that there is also a talking donkey in the Bible?
The story can be found in the book of Numbers chapter 22. Balaam was believed to have the ability to bless or curse people. He was a resident in an area near Babylon which is present day Iraq.
Balak, the king of Moab, had a problem. The Israelites were being led into the promised land by God and were commanded by God to destroy all of the current residents of that land. They had just finished their task of wiping out the Amorites and the Moabites were next in line. Scripture does not say how many Moabites there were but it does tell us that there were about 3 million Israelites. The Moabites were greatly outnumbered and had no chance against God's chosen people. They were especially fearful because the Amorites were large people and the Israelites easily slaughtered them.
Balak knew that the only way to avoid being slaughtered by the Israelites was to move and that was a very risky business in and of itself. Balak had heard of the this diviner named Balaam and requested his help. Balaam told the initial messengers that he would sleep on it. That night God came to Balaam in a dream and instructed the wannabe prophet not to go with Balak's messengers because the people they wanted Balaam to curse were blessed by God. So Balaam told Balak's messengers to go home.
The king of the Moabites wouldn't take no for an answer so he sent more messengers to Balaam promising him a great reward if he would just come and curse the Israelites. The promise of great riches enticed Balaam so he prayed to God once again to see if God would change his mind. God had already told Balaam what to do so this prayer was an insult to God. So God told Balaam to go with Balak's messengers. When morning came, Balaam left with Balak's messengers making God very angry with Balaam. God had decided to kill Balaam for his disobedience using an angel to carry out the death sentence. We pick up the story in Numbers Chapter 22:22
22 Then God's anger was aroused because he went, and the Angel of the Lord took His stand in the way as an adversary against him. And he was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23 Now the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand, and the donkey turned aside out of the way and went into the field. So Balaam struck the donkey to turn her back onto the road. 24 Then the Angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path between the vineyards, with a wall on this side and a wall on that side. 25 And when the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord, she pushed herself against the wall and crushed Balaam's foot against the wall; so he struck her again. 26 Then the Angel of the Lord went further, and stood in a narrow place where there was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left. 27 And when the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord, she lay down under Balaam; so Balaam's anger was aroused, and he struck the donkey with his staff. 28 Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, "What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?" 29 And Balaam said to the donkey, "Because you have abused me. I wish there were a sword in my hand, for now I would kill you!" 30 So the donkey said to Balaam, "Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden, ever since I became yours, to this day? Was I ever disposed to do this to you?" And he said, "No." 31 Then the Lord opened Balaam's eyes, and he saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand; and he bowed his head and fell flat on his face. 32 And the Angel of the Lord said to him, "Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to stand against you, because your way is perverse before Me. 33 The donkey saw Me and turned aside from Me these three times. If she had not turned aside from Me, surely I would also have killed you by now, and let her live." 34 And Balaam said to the Angel of the Lord, "I have sinned, for I did not know You stood in the way against me. Now therefore, if it displeases You, I will turn back." 35 Then the Angel of the Lord said to Balaam, "Go with the men, but only the word that I speak to you, that you shall speak." So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.
It's amazing to me Balaam thought nothing of a donkey talking to him. In fact, he argued with the donkey as if this was an everyday occurrence. Of course, it was God making the donkey speak.
What became of Balaam? When he tried to curse the Israelites, all he could do was utter blessings. This was very frustrating to a man who was only interested in getting his money. Balaam should have given up trying to curse the Israelites and just accepted God's will. Instead, his greed caused him to come up with a new plan: he told Balak to tempt the children of Israel to sin. Rev. 2:14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.
This plan worked because it was Israel's continuation in sin that finally led to their captivity by the Babylonians and ultimately to their being dispersed among the nations starting in 70 A.D. God was not pleased at all with Balaam. So what happened to the man who thought a talking donkey was nothing extraordinary? He was killed by the Israelites with sword when they were destroying the Midianites. Num. 31:8
If your cat, dog, donkey, horse, or monkey starts talking to you, you would do well to attention.
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