12th July 2017

Made to Look an Ass

“…God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise.”
1 Corinthians 1: 27 NLT

God’s got a way of bringing us down to size, sometimes in the most surprising and funny ways. Just take a look at this incident recorded in Numbers 22: The Israelites have finished their time-out in the wilderness and are entering the Promised Land, having disposed of armed opposition from the Amorites. The Moabites and the Midianites are terrified and in desperation, Balak, the king of the Moabites, seeing that neither the armies nor their national gods could stand up against the God of Israel, decides that what they need is a first class expert in divination. He sends a delegation four hundred miles to Balaam the soothsayer to ask him to come and curse Israel. There’d be a nice fee of course. God tells Balaam he cannot go because God has blessed Israel.

The delegation goes home and a new higher-powered one is sent back to Balaam with a much juicier offer of riches. God tells him he can go if does only what God tells him he can do. Balaam has saddled his donkey and is on his way to Moab, at heart it seems, wanting to be able to curse Israel rather than bless them so that he receives his reward. At some point along the way we see the anger of God against this devious and avaricious man. Three times an angel of the Lord with a drawn sword stands in the road in front of Balaam. Twice his donkey dodges out of the way, first into a field, and then it tries to squeeze by, in the process crushing Balaam’s leg against a wall and gets beaten for its loyalty. The third time the road is too narrow for evasion and the donkey just sits down on the ground. Balaam now lays into the animal again and beats it, at which point God gives the donkey a voice: “What have I done to you that deserves your beating me three times?” “You have made me look like a fool!” Balaam shouts back. “If I had a sword with me, I would kill you!” “But I am the same donkey you have ridden all your life,” the donkey answers. “Have I ever done anything like this before?” and Balaam is forced to admit that the donkey was right.

Hallo! This man’s just had a conversation with a donkey. And then suddenly he sees what the animal could see all along—the angel with a sword threatening to kill him. This ‘seer’ was completely blind to what his unappreciated, normally dumb, beast of burden could plainly see. Balaam falls on his face before the angel: “I have sinned,” he confesses. It took a lowly donkey to stop him in his tracks.

Prayer
Creator God and loving Father, in your power and wisdom you deal with us in the most unexpected and surprising ways, even by giving a voice to a donkey. You know just how to bring us to our senses and expose our hearts. You destroy the wisdom of the wise. As we live in you, may we reflect nothing but the wisdom of Christ.
Amen

Study by Hilary Buck

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About the Author:
Hilary Buck pastors Grace Communion in Lewes. Like us on www.facebook.com/GCLewes

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion – Lewes
The Priory School
Mountfield Road
LEWES BN7 2XN

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11:00am

Local Congregational Contact:
Hilary Buck
Email: hilaryjbuck@gmail.com

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