Numbers 22:21-22 (KJV)
21 And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab.
22 And God’s anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the Lord stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him.
In Numbers 22, Balaam was known by the king of Moab as a man who spoke God’s word with accurate results; blessings for blessings and curses for curses. Afraid of being attacked by the Israelites, King Balak conspired a plan to convince Balaam to curse the nation he feared. So, Balak sent a group of important leaders to do his bidding.
After meeting with the king’s elders, Balaam did what a prophet should do; he heard from God and delivered His message to the leaders. It was not, however, the news they or Balak wanted to hear. The king counter offered by sending more important leaders to convince the prophet to curse Israel on his behalf. Balaam re-iterated the previous refusal: Israel had been blessed and a prophet was powerless against the will of God. But….Balaam was tempted to accept the bribe offered by the king’s men. Even though he refused with words, his actions spoke what was hidden in his heart: he allowed the leaders to stay one more night to see if, perhaps, God would change His mind.
As I re-read this story, verse 20 perplexed me. At first glance, it seemed as if God had changed His mind:
Numbers 22:20 (NLT)
20 That night God came to Balaam and told him, “Since these men have come for you, get up and go with them. But do only what I tell you to do.”
God cannot be coerced. He doesn’t negotiate His will for our lives. His Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. He is the creator and sustainer of all things. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He is our Heavenly Father. We are His children. Our response to His infinite love is to obey Him.
How many times have I asked God a question that He answers clearly in His Word, during prayer, or through others? How many times has my mouth declared; “Yes. Amen! I will trust and obey you, Lord,” but rebellion still lies hidden in my soul? How many times have I asked the same question again, hoping to change His mind? How many times have the treasures of a king tempted me? How many times have I feared important leaders instead of fearing God? How many times have I saddled my ass – eh, hem- donkey and pursued my own path?
But God does not force me to submit to His perfect plan. Instead, He graciously allows me to ask the same question a second time. He allows me to get up the next morning, saddle my donkey and follow the more important leaders. But He’ll send an angel to block my way, not once, not twice, but sometimes three times!!!! And if that doesn’t get my attention, He’ll speak through the one I’ve ignored and beaten down in our rebellion.
He did the same for Balaam. And He’ll do the same for you.
Our God is a jealous God. His anger towards our rebellion is just. But let us never forget that He loved us soooooo much that while we were still sinners, His Son died for us.
Our Father will never reject those who humble themselves before Him and repent. So, turn that donkey around and go on home!