While talking about the story of Balaam and his donkey, one of my Old Testament professors brought up that Balaam was pretty blind to the message God was trying to send him. “After all,” he said, “even Balaam’s ass knew what God’s will was.”
Although I never preached a sermon about Balaam, I’ve always secretly wanted to preach a message where a conclusion that said something like “What’s your ass telling you?” That would necessitate a sermon with a title that was something like “Listen to Your Ass.”
That’s probably a good thing, I never preached a sermon like that, though. I think I might have been able to get away with the “But” sermon. I don’t think, however, that people would believe me if I said I was talking about a donkey, even though I really would be talking about a donkey.
But anyway, on to the story of Balaam’s donkey…
When chapter 23 opens, it says that God is upset with Balaam for going to see the Moabites. That makes sense. After all, they’re enemies of the people of Israel. But here’s what I don’t get: God just told him to go one verse before this!
That night God came to Balaam and told him, “Since these men have come for you, get up and go with them. But do only what I tell you to do.”(Numbers 22:20)
Why was God so upset? One might argue that he didn’t wait for God to say “Get up and go right now,” but that’s exactly what He did say. And even when Balaam does finally stop, the angel tells him to go on and see Balak. So why was God upset with Balaam here?
Could it be that Balaam was planning on placing a curse on Israel? That’s certainly what Balak expected him to do. But he didn’t. He did “exactly what God told him to do.”
What am I missing here?
And on a note of tangental nature, have any of you ever heard a really memorable sermon about Balaam and his donkey?
Oh – and a tangent off that tangent: Does anyone else think it’s strange that Balaam doesn’t even say anything like, “Uh, donkey? Did I just hear you talk?!? Holy cow! What are you doing talking!?!?” He just had a normal conversation with the animal.