Friday, March 18, 2005

Smart Ass, Dumb Ass

It is often said that humans are rational creatures...

“Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab. 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. When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, she turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat her to get her back on the road.

Then the angel of the LORD stood in a narrow path between two vineyards, with walls on both sides. When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam's foot against it. So he beat her again.

Then the angel of the LORD moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left. When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat her with his staff. Then the LORD opened the donkey's mouth, and she said to Balaam, "What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?"

Balaam answered the donkey, "You have made a fool of me! If I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now."

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.

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.

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. The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If she had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared her."”
(Numbers 22:21-32, NIV)

Balaam was a man of high repute in this area of the Middle East. He had been summoned by the king of a neighboring nation for assistance. The messengers sent would be akin to President Bush sending Condoleeza Rice to request someone for a tete-a-tete with the President of The United States. And there was a potential for a large monetary reward.

Balaam was a gifted, rational human. But, in his anger, it didn’t phase him that his donkey spoke to him in rebuke. Comically, Balaam was angered at this impudent upstart and argued with her. The donkey’s logic was soundly outwitting that of Balaam. Then as the angel was ‘uncloaked’, Balaam began to see that a common donkey saved his life.

We, too, are rational human beings, each gifted in some way. But, like Balaam, we generally become angry at the ‘donkeys’ in life that seem to be impeding our own narrow, self-serving ways. If the Lord, by His grace, opens our eyes in those times to see His mercy in sending those donkeys, we, too, would bow low and fall face down in gratitude.

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