Numbers 23:26 (The Message) Balaam replied to Balak, “Didn’t I tell you earlier: ‘All God speaks, and only what God speaks, I speak.’”
If you want some good Biblical entertainment, read Numbers 22-24 in the RSV. Not the KJV or the NIV or the Good News or the NRSV…just the regular old RSV. It’s about Balaam (some kind of prophet) and his…well…donkey that talks. When the donkey DOES talk, Balaam is not the least bit surprised. It reminds me of the story of the guy who took his dog to a movie producer. He said, “My dog can talk. Listen.” He says to the dog, “What is on top of a house?” “RRRRRROOOOF!” says the dog. “What does sandpaper feel like?” “RRRRRUUUFFFF!” said the dog. “Who is the greatest baseball player of all time?” “RRRRRRUUUTHHH!” said the dog. The producer kicks them out. Sitting on the curb, the dog looks as his owner and says, “Should I have said Ted Williams?”
But I digress. Balaam is asked (and paid quite handsomely) to curse the Israelites. He says that he can only say what God tells him…and proceeds to bless the Israelites. Some scholars say the story of the talking….um….donkey is old-fashioned Ancient Near Eastern humor that found its way into the Jewish canon and is now taken far too seriously by Christians. But the story line is that some want the Israelites cursed and, instead, they are blessed. Balaam only does what God says.
Across the Christian universe, God has laid a lot of things upon the hearts of the believers. We are always in the process of discerning just what it is that God wants us to say. Some people believed that Hurricane Katrina was God’s judgment on the shenanigans of Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Of course, Bourbon Street wasn’t flooded. Some religious leaders have said that COVID is God’s judgment for any number of sins. I can think of a few sins that God might judge the world for but…honestly, folks, such wrangling produces NOTHING of any good. It’s just better to be careful and to do all that we can to be a part of the solution instead of compounding the problem.
You know, Balaam’s…um…donkey talked because he saw God’s angel. So the next time someone accuses you of talking….um…like a donkey, remind them that Balaam’s donkey only spoke because he saw an angel. Besides, the greatest baseball player ever is Cal Ripken, Jr.!
Lord, speak to me, that I may speak in living echoes of thy tone;
As thou has sought, so let me seek Thine erring children lost and lone.
O teach me, Lord, that I may teach the precious things you do impart;
And wing my words, that they may reach the hidden depths of many a heart. Amen.
Pastor Rick Moser