Bible, Faith, God, Obedience, Uncategorized

A Talking Donkey

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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. 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,

Meghan

 

 

 

 

Spiritual Warfare, Trials, Uncategorized

The Shofar

Blowing  the shofar for the Feast of Trumpets

A beautiful sound like a trumpet or a chime interrupted our after dinner conversation. Wanting to investigate, all four of us left the Italian restaurant and walked across the courtyard near city hall. There was absolutely no one around. I thought to myself maybe it was a church bell or a clock chime.  Out of nowhere a man appeared and he was holding a long instrument. “This is a ram’s horn” the man said. “Do you know what it is?” he asked me. “Yes,” I answered. I had read about the shofar or ram’s horn in the Bible but I’d never seen or heard one before that. “We don’t want darkness here. So me and a few other men in the area blow the ram’s horn on the steps of the city hall regularly,” he said.

I knew right away what he was doing. He was taking spiritual authority over Sugar Land, our new home. I was blown away, no pun intended. At that point we were living in a hotel with not a lot of answers. My recent post Scraps of Paper tells more about our move. I felt something very different in Sugar Land, in a good way, and I couldn’t figure out exactly what that good thing was. After hearing the shofar and speaking with that man, I got my answer. Jesus was there and at work.

God had been working the whole time, I just wasn’t seeing a lot of evidence of His work. Maybe I wasn’t looking in the right place. Hearing the shofar was God telling me I’m here. I brought you here and I am working. It’s all going to be OK. That may seem strange to some of you. But for me, hearing a ram’s horn brought encouragement, comfort, and hope. Now, the keeping the darkness part out sounds a bit scary. I knew what that man meant. Spiritual darkness. Evil forces at work. Sounds spooky, but it’s the reality.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12, NASB)

Our battles ultimately are spiritual in nature. We are not fighting people, though we may be in a disagreement with someone. The real battle is not in the flesh. What does this have to do with the shofar?

In ancient Israel the blowing of the shofar had many purposes. Some of it’s uses were to call people together, for battle, and to praise God. The ram’s horn is first mentioned in Exodus.

So it happened on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and flashes of lightning, and a thick cloud was on the mountain, and a very loud blast was sounded on a ram’s horn, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled.” (Exodus 19:16, AMP)

One of the most famous stories using the shofar is Joshua and Jericho.

Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.” (Joshua 6:2-5, NIV)

I’m not going to put the entire story on here. I highly recommend reading it either for the first time, or again for those of you who have read it many times. It is such an incredible story of God’s power. Joshua 6:1-20. Here’s the final verse from that passage:

20 When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city. (Joshua 6:20, NIV)

The ram’s horn didn’t bring the wall down. The shouting didn’t bring the wall down. The marching didn’t bring the wall down. God brought the wall down. The shofar doesn’t have magic powers. It’s what it represents that brings the power and presence of God.

The shofar was used often for warfare.

“When you go to war in your land against the enemy who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, and you will be remembered before the Lord your God, and you will be saved from your enemies.” (Numbers 10:9, NKJV)

Here are some of the military uses of the shofar:¹

  • Signaling and alerting: Ehud and Nehemiah use it to summon their men (Judges 3:27; Nehemiah 4:12-14).
  • Weapon for frightening the enemy (Judges 7:22)
  • Announcing victory (Samuel A 13:3)
  • Announcing rebellion (Samuel B 20:1)
  • Cease fighting (Samuel B 20:22)
  • Warning sign about approaching enemy (Jeremiah 4:21; Hosea 5:8; and other)

The mysterious man I met that night was drawing a line in the sand for the city. It was a battle cry. And even though I didn’t know the bigger significance of a ram’s horn then, I knew enough in my spirit to know it was a God thing. You know when you just know because of the Holy Spirit? I just knew.

The ram’s horn is still used by Jews today for many things like Rosh Hashanah, where 100 times it blasts. There are four main notes or sounds used when blowing the shofar. I could fill volumes on the shofar and it’s significance for God’s people.

My little interaction at the city hall was about spiritual warfare. There are other Christians today, using the shofar. I am not suggesting you need to blow a ram’s horn. But if God wants you to, then by all means go for it.

What I love about the shofar is it brings things into perspective. It points to God and we need more of that in our world. In the middle of my battle, God showed up and He will for you too. He’s working right now in your life. You may not see Him at work. Maybe you’re like I was, and you think He has forgotten you. He hasn’t. God sees you. God knows you. Trust Him.

 

Heavenly Father,

I lift up all those who are in a battle. Show up for them Father. Bring answers, provision, and the best thing of all, your presence. Encourage the battle weary that you will fight for them. We love you and praise your Holy name!

Amen

 

Love you all,

Meghan

 

 

Photo credit: John Theodor

Footnote:

  1. http://www.shofarot-israel.com/index.php/the-shofar/biblicaltime/

Resources:

https://www.hebrew4christians.com/Holidays/Fall_Holidays/Elul/Shofar/shofar.html

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-shofar

https://torah.org/learning/yomtov-roshhashanah-vol3no16/

http://www.racematters.org/shofarhasfoursounds.htm

https://www.shofar.co/?item=88&section=170