Bible in a Year – Day 52: What a Fool
Being God’s messenger is not always a fun gig. Balaam learned that lesson first-hand. Here he had an opportunity to make a lot of money and go home a happy man, but he knew that nothing was worth going against the word of God. From the outset, Balaam had insisted that he would only speak what was spoken to him by the Lord. And he honored that commitment.
Balak, on the other hand, didn’t have any desire to know what the Lord had to say. All he wanted was for Israel to be cursed. And so, in his stubbornness, he asked Balaam three different times to curse Israel, and three times, Balaam blessed Israel, according to the words that God spoke to him.
I think it’s interesting how Balaam’s interaction with Balak parallels Balaam’s donkey’s interaction with Balaam. If you remember, Balaam set off for Moab and on three different occasions, his donkey turned away, tried to turn back and refused to go. Balaam, of course, beat the donkey into submission. Then the donkey spoke to Balaam and Balaam’s eyes were opened to the reality of what that donkey saw.
Now, suddenly, Balaam gets to play the part of the donkey. Three times he seeks God and three times brings a word of blessing instead of a curse. Balak (playing the part of Balaam from the donkey encounter) refuses to listen to Balaam and instead, uses new tactics to keep moving along the same path. The Bible doesn’t say that Balak beat Balaam, but you can almost imagine that he would have if he thought it would get him what he wanted.
And so, we have these two stories, back to back, of a stubborn person exercising his authority (or perceived authority) over another person/donkey. In both cases, the stubborn person is in the wrong, is not seeking God and has been blinded to the truth – blinded, it seems, by their own ambition or selfish motives. God, then, sometimes needs to use the “inferior” to frustrate the plans of the “superior.”
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. (1 Corinthians 1:27)
Like Balaam, I have had times in my life where I was on the “wise, strong” side of the equation and God had to use foolish and weak things or people to bring me to the knowledge of the truth he wanted to convey to me. At other times, I’ve been the donkey – the foolish and weak one – struggling to help others see what I was seeing. In both scenarios, God was there, he was speaking, he was indicating his will. And, very often, the difference between being the “fool” and being the “wise” was my own stubbornness versus my desire to see and hear what God had for me.
- Bible in a Year – Day 360: Are You Talkin’ to Me?
- Bible in a Year – Day 299: False Foundations
- Bible in a Year – Day 274: Ctrl
- Bible in a Year – Day 234: Lessons from the Party Poopers
- Bible in a Year – Day 223: What on New Earth?
- Bible in a Year – Day 200: A Price to be Paid
- Bible in a Year – Day 197: It’s Not That Simple
- Bible in a Year – Day 148: Joy in the Journey
- Bible in a Year – Day 121: A Study in Contrasts
- Bible in a Year – Day 70: Parting, Part 2