Balaam: Part One

Seeking God’s Will or Our Own?

Then 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?” Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made a fool of me! If I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.” Numbers 22:28- 29

Have you heard the story of the prophet whose donkey spoke to him? Interesting, but there’s much more to Balaam’s story than his conversation with a talking animal.

Balak, king of the Moabites, feared the Israelites for they were many and God had given them mighty victories after they had come out of Egypt. Balak wanted to hire Balaam to curse the Israelites. A prophet was one who brought the words of God to the people and spoke to God for the people. As a prophet, Balaam should have turned down Balak’s request. Cursing His people was the opposite of what God had been doing.

When the prophet sought God’s will, he received a clear response: “You shall not go with them. You shall not curse the people, for they are blessed.”

Balaam told men sent by the Moabite king, “Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the command of the Lord my God,” but he invited the men to stay overnight while he found out “what more the Lord will say to me.” He did not like God’s answer and thought if he asked again he could get a different one. And he did: “Go, but only say what I tell you.”

God had not changed his mind. He would not curse the Israelites. Three times Balaam tried to curse them; three times God gave him words of blessing instead.

God clearly reveals His will to us in His Word. And yet we may look for a loophole, thinking we’re an exception or that God won’t notice if we disobey. We may ask others their opinion until we find someone who agrees with us, ignoring the many others who confirmed God’s will. But God does not change his mind, and He does not let us sin without consequences.

DIG DEEPER:

Read Numbers 22. Why did God tell Balaam to go and then get angry because he did?

Read the prophecies or oracles of Balaam in Numbers 23-24. What are some of the blessings promised to the Israelites?

Read 1 Corinthians 10:11-13. Why would God include the story of Balaam in the Bible? What can we learn from him? Can you see the way out God provided for him?

You might also want to read Balaam, Part Two.

Nancy J. Baker

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