Numbers 22: Balaam’s . . . Donkey

Do I really want to say “Ass” whenever I am talking about the donkey in Numbers 22? Yes. Because I am very immature. But I will resist. The story of Balaam and his donkey is just so interesting and I would hate a bunch of asses getting in the way.

If this post is going to make any sense, you really should read Numbers 22. I trust that you did. Do not break my trust.

My wife and I ran around in circles trying to figure out what was going on in this story. We probably would have had more luck if we hadn’t put our heads down on that baseball bat. But when the pretty birdies stopped flittering around us, we got back to work.

I have a theory about Balaam and his donkey. And it is loosely based on a section of the S.A.T.s.

God is to Balaam as

A) Balaam is to Balak
B) Israel is to the donkey
C) Balaam is to the donkey
D) The donkey is to Balak’s ass.

If you answered “C”, you were correct.

Take a look at some of the similarities:

  • God’s anger is kindled at Balaam. Balaam’s anger is kindled at the donkey.
  • The Angel of the LORD has a sword. Balaam wishes he had a sword.
  • The Angel would have killed Balaam. Balaam would have killed the donkey.

While much of this is still confusing, there are some very interesting things about God here.

God speaks through foreigners. He has done it before and he is doing it again.

God also doesn’t need people to speak. He can do it through animals. That should probably be a warning to Balaam. “Dude, I don’t need you. Don’t think your status as a prophet makes you anything special. I will use your ass to speak if I have to!”

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

God deals with stuff on the way. Jacob, Moses, and now Balaam have all experienced encountering God on the way to somewhere. They were doing something God gave them permission to do and then encountered God on the road. The catch is, God always showed up as an adversary of some kind.

He wrestled Jacob.

He tried to kill Moses.

He almost chopped Balaam in half.

But in those encounters, Jacob received his blessing from God, the thing he had always wanted.

Moses was, well, I’m still not clear exactly on what happened to him.

Balaam learned in no uncertain terms who he was speaking for.

So the next time you feel like God gives you permission or an invitation to do something and then seems to get in your way, think about Jacob and Moses and Balaam and how God might be up to something more than you realize.

And pay attention to your ass.

14 responses

  1. Currently pseudo-frustrated by an apparent block in the road that I thought I was supposed to be walking down. So this post was a grand encouragement, along with a nice solid dose of laughter. Love the analogy action going on here!

    • Yeah, this kind of throws us a curveball in how we think about pursuing God’s call on our lives. Maybe the biggest obstacle we face is God himself? There’s one that will make you go cross-eyed!

  2. I have recently started to read the bible starting with Genesis (even though people recommended against it and I think I am beggining to see why). Lemme tell you this book has some weird stuff in it.. really weird.

    • By “this book” do you mean the Bible or Numbers. You are right either way. I am really enjoying reading it straight through. I think taking my time with it has been a big help.

  3. I love that your pulling insight like that out of a not-as-frequented book like Numbers. I also love the message here, that God will speak, no matter who it’s through- even if it’s an ass. I also enjoyed the use of the donkey here 🙂 And people think God doesn’t have a sense of humor.

  4. Loved this story!! How is this not a disney movie yet? Talking donkey? I know they’ve already done that but this is screaming animation!! Good job!! Very interesting chapter!

  5. Came across your blog quite recently and am working my way from the beginning. I really enjoyed your pun on the …donkey.. It is something that I would never have been able to do. I am Australian and we pronounce the word as in 1st person plural conjugation of the verb to be with an “S” thrown in.
    Thanks for the wonderful insights, I hope to catch up to you later today

    • Glad you are enjoying it! I heard a story on the radio today about someone wanting to bring a bunch of elephants into Australia to eat some nasty grass that causes fires. Know anything about that?

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