A beautiful sound like a trumpet or a chime interrupted our after dinner conversation. Wanting to investigate, all four of us left the Italian …The Shofar
This amazing mule takes people up and down the steep, winding trails of the Grand Canyon. On an early morning walk during our vacation, I came across the mules getting ready to make their trek for the day. They are lovely. I can’t help but admire and respect what they do. Mules are the unsung heroes of the animal world. I have to believe that animals go to heaven, especially all the ones that have helped us humans.
A mule is the result of a male donkey and female horse. Mules are tough, sure-footed, intelligent, and instinctively cautious. Those traits come from their donkey DNA. They have been around for centuries and haul everything from people to supplies. Both mules and donkeys are mentioned in the Bible.
There’s an unusual event recorded in Numbers where a donkey speaks.
The Israelites camped along the Jordan River. The Moabites were terrified because of what the Israelites had done to the Amorites, and there were many Israelites. (That’s a lot of “ites”) The king of Moab, Balak, sends for Balaam to curse the Israelites. (Numbers 22:1-5)
“A people has come out of Egypt; they cover the face of the land and have settled next to me. 6 Now come and put a curse on these people, because they are too powerful for me. Perhaps then I will be able to defeat them and drive them out of the land. For I know that whoever you bless is blessed, and whoever you curse is cursed.” (Numbers 22:5b-6, NIV)
At first, God tells Balaam not to curse the Israelites because they are blessed. Balak sends princes with a very attractive offer for Balaam that he will be rewarded handsomely, and the king will do whatever he says. God finally gives Balaam the OK to go. (Numbers 22:7-20)
But God was really angry with Balaam. (V. 22)
Balaam is riding his donkey to Moab when an Angel of the Lord stood in the road to oppose him. The donkey sees the angel with a sword drawn and turns off the road into a field. Balaam beats the donkey. The Angel of the Lord appears again on a narrow part of the path with two walls. The donkey pressed against the wall, crushing Balaam’s foot. He beats her a second time. The Angel of the Lord appeared a third time on the path, that was narrow, with no room to turn. The donkey lay down under Balaam and he beat her again. (v. 22-27)
28 Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?”
29 Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made a fool of me! If only I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.”
30 The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”
“No,” he said.
31 Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown.
32 The angel of the Lord asked him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me.33 The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If it had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared it.”
34 Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now if you are displeased, I will go back.”
35 The angel of the Lord said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but speak only what I tell you.” So Balaam went with Balak’s officials. (Numbers 22:28-25, NIV)
What’s the point, right? Is this just one of those odd stories in the Old Testament? No, it’s not. Yes, the circumstances are strange. A talking donkey is not ordinary. It wasn’t normal then, it’s not normal today.
Balaam was foolish and prideful. He didn’t even pay attention to his own donkey that knew to stop. Balaam was driven by greed. He was tempted.
“Even if Balak gave me all the silver and gold in his palace, I could not do anything great or small to go beyond the command of the Lord my God. 19 Now spend the night here so that I can find out what else the Lord will tell me.” (Numbers 22:18-19, NIV)
Balaam says he won’t go outside of what the Lord wants, but he makes sure the princes of Moab stay for the night.
Have you ever wanted something so bad that you ignored all the warning signs that God gave you? I have.
Balaam beat his donkey and forced her back on the path three times. Have you ever forced something to happen, that in your heart you knew was out of God’s will? I have.
God allowed Balaam to go on the path to Moab, yet warned him three times to stop. God knew Balaams heart. God knows our hearts too. Sometimes God allows us to feel the sting of our bad choices.
The hero in this story is the donkey. A simple creature that saw the Angel of the Lord and responded appropriately.
God can speak to us any way He chooses. Are we listening? God spoke through a donkey to Balaam. God speaks through the Bible, the Holy Spirit, people, circumstances, nature. I see no limit to how God speaks. He will never compromise His Word, the Bible, when He speaks to us.
I pray that I am more like the donkey, a willing servant of the Lord.
Love you all,
“I have had enough, Lord”
Have you been at your wits end? You can’t take another moment of trouble, trial, pain, and hurting. I have been there countless times. I have cried out to God in pain I can’t take it anymore! Every time, God meets me right where I am at. He comforts me, encourages me, and speaks to me. God is faithful to respond to our pleas for help. He is not going to turn us away. How He responds to each of us may not always be the same.
God spoke to Moses in a burning bush. There are days when I would love that kind of certainty. Only God is going to talk from a bush that’s on fire. If that doesn’t get your attention I don’t know what would. I have not had that experience, and as far as I know, only Moses got that privilege. Moses also had the huge responsibility of leading the Israelites, so the talking bush makes sense.
God can and will speak to us in many different ways. Through His word, through Jesus, through other people, through circumstances, through nature, through the Holy Spirit. I see no limit to how and when God speaks to us. The issue is, are we listening?
I love the prophet Elijah. I’m kind of in awe of him and the hard things God had him do. Elijah came to the end of his rope. He told God he had enough. Elijah had killed all the prophets of Baal and when Queen Jezebel got word of this she was irate.
Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.” 1 Kings 19:1-2
When you hear someone use the name Jezebel negatively this is why. She was not a nice lady. After marrying King Ahab, Jezebel became queen of Israel but still worshiped Baal. That’s a big no-no in the eyes of God and Israel, so she was despised. Jezebel also took Naboth’s land and had him stoned to death. Let’s just say as a woman, you don’t want to be called Jezebel.
3 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” 1 Kings 19:3-4
Elijah was done. He was tired and worn out just like we all get. Of course Elijah had the massive responsibility of being a prophet and God’s mouthpiece. So Elijah had given up and even prayed that he would die. But God didn’t give up on Elijah.
5 Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” 6 He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. 7 The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” 8 So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. 9 There he went into a cave and spent the night.” 1 Kings 5-9
What happens next is one of my favorite experiences in the Bible. I love reading this and it always encourages me and I hope it does you as well.
And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” 1 Kings 19:10-11
A powerful wind comes by tearing up rocks. The wind is so strong that it shatters rocks. That has got to be God, right? Nope. The Lord was not in the wind. Then an earthquake happened. Surely God was in the earthquake. Nope. Then there was a fire. OK, this must be it. God is showing up big in the fire. Nope. All this crazy stuff happens, and still no sign of God. (1 Kings 19:11-12)
And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. 1 Kings 19:13
God was in the gentle whisper. The King James Version says “a still small voice” to describe when God spoke to Elijah. God was not in the wind, or the fire, or the earthquake. He was the still small voice. How kind and loving of God to speak to Elijah, who was worn out, in this manner. It’s calm and you have to pay attention when God speaks quietly.
God can speak any way He chooses. God loves each of us so much, and has so much to tell us if we stop and listen. I have found that hearing God’s voice takes me stopping everything around me, and just sitting quietly at His feet. Not easy to do, but so rewarding. Hearing the Holy Spirit speak is powerful because it’s God. Those of us who know Jesus as Savior have the gift of the Holy Spirit living inside of us. We have God’s Spirit in us! Incredible.
Sometimes, we need to be worn out and burned out to seek out God’s voice. Just like Elijah. If you are at the end of yourself, stop and rest at the feet of God. Ask Him to speak, and then wait and listen. He will not contradict His word, and it will more than likely be that still small voice. So quiet yourself before God, who holds you and the entire universe in His hands, and listen.
Love you all,
Thank you for your amazing love and grace. Thank you that you speak to us. Please help us to listen and know when you are speaking. Teach us through your Word, and the Holy Spirit, and whatever means you choose to speak. Give us wisdom and discernment to know your voice. Let us hear your voice above all the noise. We love you and praise you God.
In Jesus name,
Living Water A post I wrote last year on the Holy Spirit
All scripture was taken from NIV Copyright © 2011
Photo credit: Christine Sponchia from Pixabay