Why have you struck your donkey?
February 27, 2019 (Bible Devotional)
And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? behold, I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before me — Numbers 22:32
In the book of Numbers, we find the story of a rebelling prophet. Allured by greed, He was willing to journey to a pagan king to curse the people of God. He prayed. And contrary to the answer, he received. He persisted to follow his course. The prospect of earthly riches blinded his mind to the word of the Lord. That prophet Balaam by name entered into an argument with his donkey on the way to his destination.
The donkey was blockaded by the presence of an angel. It stood back and ceased its effort to move forward. Yet Balaam struck it. Three times it smote the donkey attempting to hurriedly move to his appointment. In anger and frustration, Balaam converse with the donkey, as to a man. He was both physically and spiritually blind not know that his way was withstood by an angel of the Lord.
Why did Balaam strike the dumb animal? He thought that by force, he could lead this donkey into apostasy. While Balaam was greedily venturing to destruction, the donkey stayed back. Even the dumb animal knew not to venture where the angel of the Lord did not lead. But Balaam, being blinded both financially and spiritually, provoke the animal to continue.
Balaam was withstood not be the retraced steps of his donkey but by a mighty angel. His donkey saved his life. If he had ventured to go forward yet a little more, it would perish in his rebellion. This object lesson is both for the prophet and for us. Some setbacks in life are ordered by God to preserve us. They help us realize that we are in the wrong way. That we are heading to toward the wrong destination and that we must change course.
Had Balaam not have this setback, it would have occasion to doubt the providence of God. Not it has been further clarified to him that his way was not pleasing to the Lord. The magnitude of his sin in running after riches is expounded. And now he had the opportunity to implore and plead to be transferred from the “wicked way” and be lead “into the way everlasting.”
The way of Balaam was perverse. It was an abomination to God. He wanted to follow after lust and riches. A prophet of God should not have been influenced by gift and flattery word. Yet this prophet did exactly that. He forsook the godly anointed for an earthly reward. And an earthly reward is all that he will ever receive. Even after this encounter, he proceeded as planned, hoping to secure the temporal blessing.
How much more exalted will this prophet of old would have been had he been true to God. If had followed the Lord wholly and sanctify God, Balaam would have been a blessing to the people that wanted to know God. His influence would have led others to know that God is supreme. And God’s approval, his guidance, and care, is worth more than earthly treasure.
Yet Balaam treasure was hidden in the earth. His heart clung downward. Even though Balaam pleaded not to die the death of the wicked. His end was with transgressors. He perished with a dim light never to be remembered as a prophet of God. How sad for him who has been entrusted with great riches, and knowledge of heavenly things. In seeking to secure an earthly blessing, he lost all that was important including his own life.
The donkey is not the issue. It never had been. Disobedience to the word of God is was causing the discomfort. Let us not show any anger toward the things that we think are getting in our way. Instead let us search our hearts, and pray that God will refine our thoughts and motives. The very same donkey which might seem to interfere with our plans might be God’s ordained method to save us from self-destruction.