Sunday, January 24, 2016

Got Questions: Did Balaam`s donkey really talk to him?

This week Got Questions sent a Q & A about Balaam's donkey. It's a good lesson. On another blog recently, someone, quite rightly, reminded their readers how it's always dangerous to make decisions when angry. This got me to thinking (always a hazardous proposition with me). It seems every time I turn on the news, there are talking Jackasses, most spouting nonsense. And there's a lot of anger about the direction our country is headed in or, I should say, is in. I have to remind myself that it's important to not make decisions while cross but use common sense and look to The Cross so as to please God.

May we all strive to please Him in every thought and deed.

I hope your day is blessed.

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Question of the Week

Question: "Did Balaam`s donkey really talk to him?"

Answer: The story of Balaam and his talking donkey is found in Numbers 22. Balaam was a pagan prophet who practiced divination and other magic arts, led Israel into apostasy, and was identified as a false prophet by Peter and Jude (2 Peter 2:15-16; Jude 1:11). Fearing the encroaching Israelites, King Balak of Moab sent for Balaam and enlisted his aid in repelling the Israelites by cursing them. The Lord spoke to Balaam and told him to refuse to go to Balak, although the Lord relented under the condition that Balaam would speak only His words. So Balaam saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab back to Balak.

But knowing Balaam’s heart, the Lord’s anger burned against Balaam for what He knew was Balaam’s rebelliousness, and He sent an angel with a drawn sword to bar his way. Although Balaam couldn’t see the angel, his donkey could, and she tried to discontinue the journey by going off the path, crushing Balaam’s foot against the wall and lying down on the path. Angered by her behavior, Balaam used his staff to beat the donkey three times. Then in Numbers 22:28, we learn that “the LORD opened the donkey's mouth, and she said to Balaam, ‘What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?’” Then Balaam and the donkey proceeded to have a conversation about the situation, with Balaam angrily berating the donkey, after which the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes to see the angel and understand why his journey was stopped.

There is no doubt that Balaam’s donkey spoke to him. The question that arises is whether the donkey was suddenly given the power of speech, which would also mean she was given the power to reason because she answered Balaam’s questions, asked some of her own, and carried on a rational conversation. While it is certainly possible that God granted human powers to the donkey, it’s more likely that He opened her mouth and spoke through her. The angel that barred his way is identified as the angel of the Lord, likely a manifestation of the presence of God Himself (Genesis 16:9-16; Exodus 3:1-6). After the donkey “spoke” to Balaam, and Balaam’s eyes were opened, the angel proceeded to ask the identical questions that came from the mouth of the donkey, further evidence that God, not the donkey, was actually speaking both times. This is reiterated by Peter, who identifies the donkey as “a beast without speech” and who “spoke with a man’s voice” (2 Peter 2:16). Whatever the method, the donkey was able to speak by a miraculous working of God’s power.

Why was Balaam not shocked into silence by the donkey speaking to him? Surely, it must have come as a surprise to him, and under normal circumstances, the obvious reaction would be for him to at least ask how she came to be speaking. The Bible doesn’t tell us why he didn’t find it odd to be addressed by a donkey, but we do know something about his state of mind. First, he was in rebellion against the Lord, going to Balak for his own purposes and not those of the Lord. Second, the donkey’s refusal to continue down the path enraged him so that he beat her out of anger because she had mocked him and made a fool of him. Anger has a way of curtailing rational thought, and perhaps he was so intent on exerting his dominance over the animal that he lost the ability to think clearly. It wasn’t until the angel opened Balaam’s eyes to see reality that he relented in his anger against the donkey, listened to the angel, and repented. Verse 38 tells us that Balaam went to Balak and told the king, “I must speak only what God puts in my mouth," which just goes to show that God can use anyone, even a donkey and a rebellious prophet, to do His will and speak His truth.

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Linda Eller said...

Anger is a real threat to happiness. Yes, the donkey did speak, and we should be very careful when we do the same. Words cannot be taken back and last a lifetime. Have a blessed day my friend. Good post.

Simply Linda said...

Oh my, we were having the same conversation...and I agree with Linda 100% and I am guilty at times of having anger...many Blessings to you.

and I had to giggle over the ja comment you made...and yet, those cronies and media can't get it, do they? (why people are angry)

WomanHonorThyself said...

so true! so many talking donkeys ..thats an awesome observation! stay warm ! xoxoxoxo

Lulu James said...

Always enjoy your Sunday lessons. I have known a few talking jackasses in my life. As to speaking in anger--I learned a LONG time ago---a word uttered cannot be retracted and is never forgotten---so don't make decisions in anger or make statements!
Blessings, Friend!

Patsy said...

We just had a lesson on this , and what is happening today.
Thanks for the post.

White Lace and Promises said...

Anger yes. To deny it would only lead to depression. That's what "they" say anyway. My husband always asks me who "they" are. This time, it's in "the report.". What report? My report, from experience.

Ed Bonderenka said...

Why can't we allow God to speak as clearly through us?

Victor S E Moubarak said...

Never understood this story about a talking donkey. But then, we also had a talking snake in Paradise.

God bless.

Jackie said...

I take God at His Word.
I wouldn't question that a donkey can talk any more than I would question that a heart beats from an electrical impulse from within it. God makes all things, and they are all wondrously made. He can do all things.
I praise Him and have fairh.
Sending you love,