The Israelites were traveling through the land of the Moabites enroute to Jerusalem to build the first temple unto the Lord. They set up camp on the plains of Moab near the abode of king Balak. King Balak was so worried about the Israelites who were being victorious in battles that they had been encountering from their trek from Egypt. He was afraid the Israelites would take over his country. So he wanted to use divination to overcome the Israelites.
Introducing Balaam , he was a well-known prophet at the time living in Pethor plying his trade. Balak sent messengers to Balaam wanted him to come to Moab to put a curse on the Israelites. Balaam’s heart was covetous for the riches of life. Why the Lord decided to use him to convey a message is anyone’s guess.
Balaam told the messengers to stay the night and they would leave in the morning. He was hoping the Lord would give him permission to go to Moab. The angel of the Lord came to Balaam and spoke;
vs.12 “Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed” .
Balaam spoke the words of the Lord and told the messengers he could not leave Pethor.
Balak sent more messengers to Balaam. This time he basically told Balaam he could have great honour in the kingdom. Balak was playing to man’s pride and greed his covetousness of all things.
Balaam told the messengers if he could have vs.18 a house full of gold and silver. Again he was hoping God would let him go to Moab. Again they stayed the night and the angel of the Lord came to Balaam and spoke;
vs.20 ” If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them; but yet the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do”.
This time the angel of the Lord told Balaam to go with the men but he was to remember the first command. vs.12;”Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed” . Again the Lord gives us freewill we can follow our own wishes our we can listen to the Lord.
And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab”. So God gave Balaam up to his own heart’s lusts. As God sometimes denies the prayers of his people in love, so sometimes he grants the desires of the wicked in wrath.
So now Balaam is headed to Moab to collect his riches. This is where the narrative gets amusing. The Lord speaks threw the ass to get his attention. Balaam’s eyes are blinded to the truth, he can not see the angel of the Lord in his path only the ass can. vs. 22-32. Sort of like the average christian now days.
The Lord’s anger has been kindled so He sends an angel with a sword standing in the middle of the path. the angels. It scares the ass and it veers off the path. Balaam gets angry and whips the ass to get it back on the path.
Next they are going through a vineyard with walls on both side and the angel of the Lord was standing in the path. The ass veered into the wall hurting Balaam’s foot. Again he whips the ass.
The angel went further up the path where it got narrow there was no place to turn. This time the ass fell to the ground. Still unable to see the angel he beats the ass with a stick.
vs.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?
Balaam is so mad he does not realize a donkey is talking to him. So here is this man yelling at a donkey and he says,” you have mocked me three times, if I had a sword in my hand I would have killed you
vs.30 And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever won,t to do so unto thee? And he said, Nay.
Because we have free will God does not always by his providence restrain men from sin, that he approves of it or that it does not make Him angry. The ass complained of Balaam’s cruelty. The righteous God does not allow the meanest or weakest to be abused; but they shall be able to speak in their own defence, or he will some way or other speak for them. Balaam at length has his eyes opened to the truth.
He spoke these three great words; I am a sinner.
The take-away here is you’re seeing a foreshadowing of Christ in the angels. Christ speaks on our behalf to God. Plus you’re seeing the Jewish nation being protected by the hand of God. Be still and hear the voice of Christ to put you on the path to Zion; to correct you when you veer off path.
Remember Christ loves you and wants you to come home.