In this week’s Parsha of the story of Balak and Balaam in Numbers 22-25, there are some key elements that we can learn and pull aside to ponder upon. Let me start off giving you an overview of the story. It starts off with the king of Moab, Balak, sending messengers to Balaam asking him to come and curse the people that have come out of Egypt. Balak knows these people are stronger than him and knows that whatever Balaam blesses and curses indeed comes to pass (Num. 22:6). The king of Moab offered Balaam a great reward if he would only curse the people who came out of Egypt. God came upon Balaam and told him not to go and curse the people, for they were already blessed by God. The messengers came to Balaam offering a bigger reward from the king this time, summoning for him to come with them once again. God came upon Balaam again, this time telling him to go, but only to say what He tells him to say (Num. 22:20). Balaam got up to travel back with the messengers but was too hasty (Num. 22:32). His heart was not in the right place; he cared more about receiving the reward from the king rather than obeying God and the effect of the curse he was about to place upon the people. God’s anger aroused (Num. 22:22) and He placed and angel in the road to block Balaam and his donkey’s passage. The donkey saw the angel of the Lord, causing him to go off of the road. Balaam got frustrated, therefore hitting his donkey three times before the donkey began to speak (Num. 22:28)! The Lord allowed the donkey to see the presence of the Lord and blinded Balaam from it. Balaam goes on talking to the donkey saying how he wished he had a sword to kill him. I find it humorous that Balaam is planning to curse this nation with his words, but he wishes he had a sword to kill the donkey. After three blockage attempts from the angel, God opened up Balaam’s eyes to see the angel of the Lord. He immediately fell on his face (Num. 22:32). The angel of God repeats to Balaam to go enter into this land with the king of Moab, but only speak the words that God has put into His mouth. I would hope that Balaam has a change of heart and seeks to continue this journey with obedience.
Balaam continues in Moab with Balak, speaking to the princes of Moab (Num. 23:6) and Israel (Num. 24:2) attempting to curse them but the Lord intervened causing Balaam to bless the nation, only speaking what Adonai placed inside of him. Can you imagine what it would be like to be speaking, and the words that come out of your mouth aren’t really your own words? Especially if it was in front of multitudes of people? Yikes! There were three different times that Balaam blessed the Israelites, thus creating a fury within Balak (Num. 24:10). This isn’t where the story ends, but for now this is just about where the Parsha ends.
I want to rewind a little to the incident where the angel of the Lord blocked Balaam’s path. In this incident, it was God blocking the path, not the enemy. When Balaam went to utter a curse over the people, the Lord intervened once again, blocking Balaam’s evil intentions. I believe one of the themes that we can pull from this story is that God can use anything to get His message across. In this story he used a talking donkey and an evil man. Another theme that we can attain from this story is what will we do when we are faced with those “blockages” that suddenly appear on our path? Will we get frustrated and irritated as Balaam did, acting out of anger in the situation? Or will we try to analyze the problem, perceiving it differently, praying and asking God for direction? It is so easy to take things into our own hands, handling situations and people the wrong way. It’s easy to get caught into the trap of our own fleshly emotions, becoming numb and blind (because that’s where the enemy likes you to be) to what’s really in front of you (an angel of God, perhaps?) trying to gently direct and guide you to where you need to go.
Break the strongholds in your life that are holding you back from your fullest potential. Speak the name of God out loud, the name that the wind and waves obey. Don’t be stubborn and stiff-necked, creating an atmosphere where a talking donkey has to intervene to get your attention! Leave your fear at the door, walk through in confidence, speaking the name of God everywhere you go, blessing His people, blessing His nation. This song that I have attached below has been on my heart these last couple of days. Take a moment to listen; close your eyes and apply the lyrics to your life. Picture yourself standing at the edge of the ocean waters proclaiming His name, receiving His blessing, and leaving all of YOU into the deepest of waters.