This passage is about Balaam, his donkey and the angel. Balaam was a man ready to obey God’s command as long as he could profit from doing so. Although he realized the awesome power of Israel’s God, his heart was occupied with the wealth he could gain in Moab. God let Balaam go with Balak’s messengers, but He was angry about Balaam’s greedy attitude and allowing the love of money to control him (vv 22-30). Balaam claimed that he would not go against God just for money, but his greed for wealth and prestige offered by the king blinded him so that he could not see how God was trying to stop him.
We sometimes use the phrase “dumb animals,” but in this case the animal was smarter than the master. The donkey saw the angel of the Lord holding a sword and blocking the way; it turned aside three times and saved Balaam’s life but made him look foolish in the process (v. 29). He had reached a low state of life when God had to use a beast to speak.
The same God who opened the donkey’s mouth and eyes opened Balaam’s eyes so he could see the angel also (vv. 31-35). Balaam finally fell on his face and said “I have sinned” but there was no evidence of sincere repentance. God cautioned him but allowed him to continue on his journey.
Even though I may know what God wants me to do, it can be easy for me to become blinded by the desire for money, possessions or prestige. I need to avoid Balaam’s mistake by looking past the allurement of fame or fortune to the long range benefits of following God.
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View this passage in NIV (Bible Gateway) »
Numbers 19:1-22The ashes of a heifer used to purify the unclean
Numbers 20:1-29Death and failure
Numbers 21:1-9A serpent problem solved.
Numbers 21:10-35From Mount Hor to Moab.
Numbers 22:1-21Balak sends for Balaam
Numbers 22:22-41The angel and Balaam’s donkey.
Numbers 23:1-30The prophecies of Balaam.
Numbers 24:1-25Balaam foretells the happiness of Israel
Numbers 25:1-18The idolatry of Israel