If you’ve never read the story of Balaam and his donkey, you need to check it out. It’s a fascinating story of consequences of disobedience, done like a Disney animated feature film (complete with a talking donkey). You’ll find it in the Old Testament in the book of Numbers, chapters 22-25.
I guess what hits me when I read this story is how Balaam, out of his greed, disobeys God, but in the end God is able to accomplish what He wanted, but to an even greater degree.
What I mean is, God did not give Balaam permission to go with King Balak’s men. Balaam, however, entertained the thought of all that reward and each time asked the king’s delegation to stay overnight while he “consults God about it” one more time (notice verse 19).
15 Then Balak tried again. This time he sent a larger number of even more distinguished officials than those he had sent the first time. 16 They went to Balaam and gave him this message: “This is what Balak son of Zippor says: Please don’t let anything stop you from coming. 17 I will pay you well and do anything you ask of me. Just come and curse these people for me!” 18 But Balaam answered them, “Even if Balak were to give me a palace filled with silver and gold, I would be powerless to do anything against the will of the LORD my God. 19 But stay here one more night to see if the LORD has anything else to say to me.”
Balaam knew God did not want him to go because God told him very clearly he was not to. When the king sent even more dignitaries (read: more reward), it was just too much. So, God tells Balaam he can go:
22:20 That night God came to Balaam and told him, “Since these men have come for you, get up and go with them. But be sure to do only what I tell you to do.”
How do I come to the conclusion that God didn’t want him to go? Look at the very next verse:
22 But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the Lord stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him.
If you’re familiar with this story, you probably know the rest. After the little Disney mini-episode with the talking donkey, Balaam goes with the king’s delegation with the disclaimer that he is powerless to say anything other than what God tells him to.
The king expects Balaam to curse the nation of Israel so he’d have a better chance of defeating them. Instead, God tells Balaam to bless them – right in front of the king – not once, but three times! What’s more, Balaam prophesies the destruction of the Moabites and the Kenites.
If Balaam had initially obeyed God and stayed home, the glory for God may not have been so obvious. Out of Balaam’s disobedience, the king was humiliated to his face, and God’s message was personal. And, we wouldn’t have had the wonderful story of the talking donkey (sorry, you’ll just have to read it for yourself!).
Am I condoning the fact that this animal abuser disobeyed God in the first place? Mercy, no. I’m simply pointing out that God’s will WILL be done…even if we choose to disobey. The cül thing is that even when we screw up, He can still turn things around and bring glory to Himself.
I wonder what reward Balaam would have received if he would have been obedient the first time and simply sent the men away.
“Hey I got an idea! I could stay with you! We could stay up late, swap manly stories, and in the morning, I’m making waffles!” – donkey