This isn’t Dr. Dolittle... this is the Old Testament story that took place during Israel’s forty years in the wilderness. It happened like this...
During those eventful forty years, God’s people faced several enemies. Among them, the Moabites (Numbers 22-24).
Balak, the king of Moab was an evil pagan, but he wasn’t dumb. He could see that Israel was strong. He had heard the reports of Israel’s victories over their enemies, and he heard the unfathomable accounts of the Israelite’s miracle-working God. Balak was sure that Moab was in big trouble!
Balaam was a heathen diviner, a witchdoctor, a soothsayer with a reputation for supernatural powers. He was not a follower of Jehovah God. I’m pretty sure he had a Ouija Board, a crystal ball, or some Tarot Cards.
Since Balak knew that military defeat was certain, he sent for Balaam, hoping he would put a curse upon the Israelites.
God works in mysterious ways.
Balaam, astride his faithful old donkey, was making his way to Moab’s king Balak when the Angel of the Lord showed up! That’s Jesus, prowling the pages of the Old Testament.
The Angel of the Lord was standing in a narrow passage as Balaam plodded down the path. The donkey saw the Lord, the prophet didn’t. The donkey stopped. Apparently, if you beat a donkey hard enough, it will start walking again. So, the Angel of the Lord moved down the path a little and blocked the passage again. Again, the donkey saw the Lord and stopped. This time the donkey squeezed up against a rock wall causing great pain to Balaam’s foot. Once again, Balaam, seeing nothing ahead, beat the donkey into submission. And again, a third time, the Angel of the Lord stood in the passage. This time, the poor donkey just sat down.
After a thorough whipping, the donkey cocked his head around and spoke. I can imagine, “Hey stupid! Can’t you see the dude standing there?” The Bible says, “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?” (Numbers 22:28, CSB).
“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 low and bowed in worship on his face” (Numbers 22:31, CSB).
Here’s what is so interesting to me. God could have spoken to Balaam in many ways, but he used a talking donkey. More importantly, Jesus left His throne in heaven for this important encounter. Jesus showed up.
“Long ago God spoke to our ancestors by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son” (Hebrews 1:1-2, CSB).
As you open your Bible tomorrow morning, remember that Jesus speaks through His Living Word. The One who prowls the pages of the Old Testament is the One who still reveals Himself today.
South Georgia Baptist Church
Mike Martin, Pastor