God is not a man who lies, or a son of man who changes His mind.
Does He speak and not act, or promise and not fulfill?
Numbers 23:19 (HCSB)
Series Focus: “Piece by Piece”
Have you ever set out to go in a specific direction only to be stopped by a roadblock? Whether physically or figuratively, unexpected barriers crop up. Some circumstances completely circumvent our plans and we have to go all the way back to the drawing board.
As much as we relate to interferences in our lives, I’m sure none of us have experienced a talking donkey! Today we visit the story of Balaam in Numbers 22-24. Balaam was the son of Beor in Pethor and was known as a soothsayer and prophet. Balak, the King of Moab, approached Balaam, asking him to curse the Israelites who had migrated and camped on the plains of Moab.
God, however, intervened and instructed Balaam not to go with Balak’s men and not to curse the people because they were blessed. Balaam refused to go with Balak, however, Balak promised to greatly honor Balaam if he would go with them. Let’s pick up this account here in Numbers 22:18-19 (HCSB):
But Balaam responded to the servants of Balak, “If Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go against the command of the Lord my God to do anything small or great. Please stay here overnight as the others did, so that I may find out what else the Lord has to tell me.”
We only see in part. We only know in part. Many opportunities present themselves to each of us. Have we always followed the leading of God, regardless of the promises a person has made to provide money, honor, or fame? God is all-knowing and His ways are perfect. His Word shows us the path before us. His Spirit guides us in truth.
As Balaam headed out the next morning, the donkey refused to move forward, She turned off the path and went toward the field. Balaam struck her and redirected her onto the path. Then the way narrowed and a stone wall was on either side. The donkey crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall, still refusing to go. Balaam struck the donkey again. Finally, the pathway narrowed and the donkey crouched down. Balaam hit the donkey a third time.
Balaam did not know the Angel of the Lord was blocking the donkey from going in the direction Balaam wanted her to go. The Angel of the Lord intervened and blocked the way. Balaam, instead of inquiring of the Lord regarding the roadblock, became furious and beat his donkey. At the height of Balaam’s rage, God performed the unusual.
Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and she asked Balaam, “What have I done to you that you have beaten me these three times?” Balaam answered the donkey, “You made me look like a fool. If I had a sword in my hand, I’d kill you now!” But the donkey said, “Am I not the donkey you’ve ridden all your life until today? Have I ever treated you this way before?” “No,” he replied. Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the path with a drawn sword in His hand. Balaam knelt and bowed with his face to the ground. The Angel of the Lord asked him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? Look, I came out to oppose you, because what you are doing is evil in My sight. The donkey saw Me and turned away from Me these three times. If she had not turned away from Me, I would have killed you by now and let her live.” (Numbers 22:28-33 HCSB)
Can you imagine? The barriers were the Angel of the Lord and the donkey spoke—not just a word or two, but they had a conversation! Maybe the changes in our plans haven’t ended with a talking donkey, but I have no doubt God has intervened in each of our lives. The question is this: When a monkey wrench is thrown into our agendas, do we have the courage and integrity to respond as Balaam did?
Balaam said to the Angel of the Lord, “I have sinned, for I did not know that You were standing in the path to confront me. And now, if it is evil in Your sight, I will go back.” Then the Angel of the Lord said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but you are to say only what I tell you.” So Balaam went with Balak’s officials. (Numbers 22:34-35 HCSB)
After these events, Balaam gave four oracles of God, whereby he confirmed the Israelites were the blessed people of God. He was not afraid to say the things God wanted him to say. He just needed some help with the direction he was going.
Can you remember a time you were determined to go in a direction you wanted to go, apart from God’s will for your life? Perhaps you came up against obstacles then, and as you look back now, you see that the hand of God had stepped in for you.
Determination is an excellent motivator to get us up and moving! We just need to check in with the Lord to see if we are moving forward in our plans or in His. Further, if we feel rage rising within us because things aren’t happening the way we planned, it’s a good time to take a time out with our Prince of Peace. He sees all and knows all. He may be the very One causing the roadblock.
Open our eyes, Lord, that we may see You directing our paths. Amen.
Holding Fast to Hope,
Scripture References: Numbers 22-24; Psalm 119:105; John 16:13; Isaiah 9:6-15