January 24 - Balaam

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

January 24 - Balaam

My Kindergarten Sunday School teacher was amazing. It was from her that I learned most of my Bible stories. We were so entranced with her stories, that I’m not sure if we really identified their source.  When I was older there were a few that surprised me by showing up in my Bible. However, there was one story that I never heard and I was greatly surprised by a question one day in an adult class regarding Balaam’s ass. I had absolutely no idea what they were talking about, so I had to dig.  I guess that this might have been a little too shocking to bring up to the minister’s daughter. Sunday School teachers avoided using the word ‘ass’ as much as possible and in the King James version, that’s all they would have been able to come up with.

Balaam was not an Israelite, but was a prophet all the same.

The Israelites were threatening the land of Moab and its king, Balak sent men to Balaam requesting that he curse the Israelites.  (Numbers 22:1-6)  Balaam, interestingly enough, told them that he had to consult Yahweh.  He refused to go to Moab with these men, but received permission from God to go with the second group, but only if they came to him and asked him to go.

Well, Balaam got up and went with them – without the summons.  God wasn’t happy, especially since He had told Balaam to obey Him implicitly.  The angel of the Lord stood in the middle of the road – only the donkey could see.  He tried once to go into the field next to the road, Balaam struck him and got him back on the road.  Then, it ran Balaam into a wall, and he struck the animal, then, the donkey just lay down in the road.  Balaam struck the donkey and the Lord opened the animal’s mouth to ask, “What have I done, that you strike me?”  Balaam had a conversation with the animal until the Lord opened his eyes and he saw the angel.

At this point, he fully understood the necessity of obedience to the Lord.  He would go forth and only speak the word of the Lord to Balak.

When Balaam got to Moab, Balak asked him to curse Israel again.  Balaam answered that he could only speak the words given to Him by God.  He blessed Israel three times, finally stating that Israel would rule over Moab.