Jun 5, 2020
I am thinking today about a fascinating story in Numbers 22. Balaam, a prophet, was headed in a direction that God had initially told him not to go. Balaam was listening to the wrong voices. He saddled up his donkey and headed off on a misguided journey with the princes of Moab. But the Lord stood in the road to oppose him. I am intrigued by what the Bible says:
23 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, she turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat her to get her back on the road. 24 Then the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path between two vineyards, with walls on both sides. 25 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam's foot against it. So he beat her again. 26 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. 27 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat her with his staff.
28 Then the Lord opened the donkey's mouth, and she said to Balaam, "What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?"
29 Balaam answered the donkey, "You have made a fool of me! If I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now."
Wait. The donkey talked? Why wasn’t Balaam amazed or even shocked with a donkey speaking? Wouldn’t you be a bit surprised if a donkey started talking? “Say what?”
I would hope that if my horse spoke to me I would look around, take my hat off, check my ears, rattle my brains a little, drink some water and take a break. Unless I was so angry about something that I wasn’t thinking clearly and on the verge of doing something irrational.
Balaam, for whatever reason, was very angry. He must have been so angry that he wasn’t thinking very clearly. The donkey spoke, and right away Balaam answered with words that expressed he had reached a boiling point. Balaam actually entered into a conversation with the donkey. Anger can cause unhealthy conversations detached from the reality of God’s presence.
Anger is difficult to define but you know it when you see it or feel it. Misplaced and out-of-control anger can distort an accurate perception of reality. Maybe that’s why we are told to get rid of it (Col. 3:8) and not to sin when we are feeling it (Eph. 4:26). Anger can twist your perception of a situation. Eyes are darkened and hearing is distracted. Reality remains unrevealed and the bigger picture stays hidden. Anger clouds judgment and we might do something like yell at a donkey----or others around us.
In Numbers 22:31, the Lord opened Balaam's eyes, and he saw what he should have seen before----the angel of the Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn. So Balaam bowed low and fell facedown. Worship happened. Anger faded. Hope recaptured and the peace of God’s presence became reality.
Are you mad or frustrated about anything or anyone today? What aren’t we seeing? What are we missing? May we see hope and peace that leads us back to a heart of worship.
Jonathan L. Doty says (Jun 5, 2020):
I believe that the Christian who constantly listens to political commentary, who engages in arguments on social media, and who finds himself or herself getting angry to the point of bitterness and hatred - this person has crossed unwittingly into Satan's territory. I recently have become intentional about refraining to listen to talk radio, not turning on certain favorite, political commentary, cable programs (generally looking for points of view that reinforce my perceptions). Instead, I should have been praying and looking into God's Word and listening to God's voice. It is a freeing experience. I have seen too much bitterness and hatred to get sucked into a divisive mentality. I think it was the last straw when I saw a broken relationship within my extended family group - purely because political views differed. Uggghhh. There's a better way - and He is called Jesus Christ.
James Bennett says (Jun 6, 2020):
Well said, Steve. And Jonathan, you are right on. I taught US history for many years with a particular emphasis on applying the philosophy in our founding documents in understanding historical and modern events. This was an attempt to replace the civics that was no longer being taught. Fifteen odd years ago the Lord told me to not continue to be involved in political debate or get emotionally entangled in the sturm und drang of political discussion, but to keep focused on Him. Jesus Christ and Him crucified, as Paul states. My soul is much more content than it used to be! In these past months it has taken a lot more vigilance to make every thought captive to Christ, to take every day as it comes, just do the next right thing as the Lord leads, and not get embroiled in worry about the future. That is the way of peace.