Balaam and his donkey.
The Children of Israel had come out of Egypt about forty years ago, and had finally come close to the border of Canaan, to enter into their inheritance.
But a King of the Moabites, became frightened because of their coming, and sent to Balaam to curse them, for he was known to hear from God; and to have his sayings come true.
Numbers 22:5-6″He sent messengers therefore unto Balaam the son of Beor, to Pethor which is by the river of the land of the children of his people, to call him, saying, Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt: behold, they cover the face of the earth, and they abide over against me:
Come now therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people; for they are too mighty for me: preadventure I shall prevail, that we may smite them and that I may drive them out of the land: for I wot that he whom thou blessest is blessed, and he whom thou cursest is cursed.”
They come, and present a pretty lucrative package to Balaam.
So Balaam tells them he can do nothing except God says so. God tells him, he can not curse Israel because they are blessed by Him.
Balaam informs the men, and they go back and tell the King. But he thinks it is a ploy to receive a better offer. So he sweetens the deal, with position, and wealth.
They return, and instead of turning them away, because God has told him “these people are blessed”; he asks them to wait to see what God will say.
He wants to twist God’s arm about this. This is serious money, and prestige; and he does not want to refuse the job.
So God tells him, if they come for you, go ahead and go.
He did not tell him he could curse the Israelites, but to go ahead and go.
But he warns Balaam that he can only say what He gives him to say.
This He did to prove him. Would he obey God’s will or give in to the gain of the world. For he knew God would not curse Israel.
Well, Balaam gave in to the temptations of the world.
He got up early, saddled his donkey, as soon as they came; he was going. He would work something out.
Numbers 22:22-23 “And God’s anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the Lord stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him.
And the ass saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field: and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her into the way.”
The Lord, Himself had talked to Balaam, so now he send a different messenger.
One Balaam would have to listen to.
First, there is the angel. Balaam, did not notice the angel or the sword. But his faithful donkey did. So she turns out of the way of the sword.
Had she continued, the angel would have slain Balaam.
Now this did not just happen once, but three times.
The second time in the path of the vineyard, where there was a wall on either side, and when the donkey saw the angel and the sword, she crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall, to save Balaam’s life.
Yet her thanks was a beating.
But on he goes. He is going to get that reward.
So now, the angel stood in a very narrow place where the donkey could not turn away. So the donkey fell down, instead.
Numbers 22:26-27 “And the angel of the Lord went further, and stood in a narrow place, where was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left.
And when the ass saw the angel of the Lord, she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam’s anger was kindled and he smote the ass with a staff.”
Numbers 22:28 “And the Lord opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, what have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?”
God had this donkey talk to Balaam, which should have been a sign unto him. But he was set in his way of going….until…
Numbers 22:31-33 “Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face.
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:
And the ass saw me and turned from me these three times: unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive.”
Thy way is perverse before me. This is the first time in Scripture that the term “perverse” is used.
It means to rush headlong. To precipitate, or to be rash.
Balaam was rushing headlong into the most dangerous situation of his life, and he did not know it.
He did not know it, because he was too caught up in the idea of prosperity and promotion.
He would die, to get this; and in fact, does, for God lets him go, but again warns him of saying only what he is given to say.
In fact, Balaam can’t curse Israel. In every instance, he blesses Israel instead.
Numbers 23:8 ” How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed? Or how shall I defy, whom the Lord hath not defied?”
Yet the love of the reward was such a temptation, that Balaam thought of another way of destroying Israel, and told it to the king. If they could not destroy by curse, or battle; then by temptation and sin, so God would destroy them.
Numbers 25:1-3 “And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.
And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bow down to their gods.
And Israel joined himself to Baal-peor: and the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel.”
It would seen Balaam’s scheme was working.
God had everyone that had been joined unto Baal-peor killed. That was 24,000.
But even in times of great temptation there are those who seek the Lord. He always has His remnant.
Numbers 25:11 “Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned away my wrath from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy.”
But what happened to Balaam? Did he get what he sold out for?
Evidently, for he was found with these kings when Israel was told to “Vex the Midianites, and smite them: for they vex you with their wiles,”
Numbers 31:8 “And they slew the kings of Midian, beside the rest of them that were slain namely, Evil, and Rekan, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, five kings of Midian: Balaam also the son of Beor they slew with the sword.”
Was the riches worth the loss of all things?
Jude 11 “Woe unto them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Korah.”
Remember perverse means rushing headlong. When God speaks, we need to hear what He is saying, and then obey Him.
Greed for anything, is a terrible Master.
God’s mercy and His cleansing word, will help us with any temptation.