“Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and she asked Balaam, ‘What have I done to you that you have beaten me these three times?’ Balaam answered the donkey, ‘You made me look like a fool. If I had a sword in my hand, I’d kill you now.’ But the donkey said, ‘Am I not the donkey you’ve ridden all your life until today? Have I ever treated you this way before?’ ‘No,’ he replied. Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the path with a sword drawn in His hand.” Numbers 22:28-31a (HCSB)
What is a donkey? It is simply a beast of burden. It carries your load (and sometimes yourself) wherever and whenever you want. A donkey, although stubborn by nature, exists solely to serve men.
For Balaam, his donkey was a metaphor for his relationship with God. Balaam wanted the benefits of God’s power and wisdom without being accountable to Him. Balaam was a bit of a braying donkey, himself in that sense!
What I find interesting in Balaam’s conversation with his donkey (and the subsequent dialogue with the Angel of the Lord) is how merciful God was towards Balaam (at that moment). The Lord is basically saying, “What have I done to you, that you would mistreat me, mistrust my leading, and attempt to assert your will upon My prophetic Word when you know it is impossible to change circumstances once I have spoken?”
I believe Balaam - a non-Jew - had a real shot at a relationship with God at that moment. In the end, he chose an affiliation over a relationship. Balaam knew “about” God, but he never really “knew” Him. That is, Balaam never surrendered his will to God’s Lordship. In the same way, there are many who affiliate with the Church, know of Jesus, have had spiritual/worshipful moments in Christian assembly, and, perhaps, claim to follow Him. Yet they don’t know Jesus in a saving way. They wish to reap the benefits of associating with Jesus but never surrender to His Lordship and the Spirit’s leading.
Perhaps we should ask ourselves how God has loved us (while we were yet sinners- Romans 5:8) the next time we are tempted to choose our personal gain over the Lord’s promises. Could it be that we have merely affiliated with God (as opposed to surrendering to His Lordship) and, in doing so, have denied ourselves a true (and completely obtainable) relationship with Him? How we choose to continue following Jesus, listening to the Holy Spirit, and seeking His Word, regardless of the circumstances, is perhaps our truest indicator of the genuineness of our faith – that a true spiritual transformation has occurred and is leading us onward, sanctifying us, as it were, to serve the Lord, void of our personal agendas.
Elevating your Faith with daily Bible reading and devotionals written by Steve Wiggins.
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