Today I want to focus on chapter 22. We read that Balak sends messengers to summon Balaam with the hopes that he will curse the Israelite's so that Balak can defeat the Israelite's and drive them out of their land.
In verse 12 we read how God intercedes with Balak's plan and speaks these words to Balaam, "Do not go with them. You must not put a curse on those people, because they are blessed.”
From a Bible commentary that I read on Balaam, this is what it said of him:
He is altogether a pagan prophet who just happens to get a word from the Lord on this occasion. There's nothing that vindicates his previous or later role as a prophet of the one true God.
This is an interesting point in that once again, God has chosen to use an unlikely person to fulfill His plan. Often I feel that I am an unlikely person to bring God's plan to fruition. I am a sinner who continues to struggle, so how could God possibly use me? After reading this, it has reminded me that God uses different people from different walks of life, so I need to be ready to do God's work, because He can use anyone.
After a couple of failed attempts to persuade Balaam's cooperation, God came to Balaam at night saying, “Since these men have come to summon you, go with them, but do only what I tell you.”
I was a little confused after this because God told Balaam to go with them, but to only say what God tells him to say. Yet in verse 22, it says that God was very angry when Balaam went.
The next few verses I do find myself smiling as I read them. There is a saying "stubborn as a mule". Well, this donkey in Balaam's mind has a mind of its own, and unfortunately receives a few beatings for this.
After the third time the donkey reacts in a way that frustrates Balaam, he finally realizes that God is the one who has been opposing him, and tells God that he has sinned. Just before Balaam's confession of his sin (which it doesn't actually say what it was), in verse 32, God tells Balaam that his "path is a reckless one". My only thought is that Balaam did as God said, but didn't do it with the right intentions. (Similarly to Jeannine's comment about Moses striking the rock inappropriately from yesterday's reading).
In the same verse, but in the KJV, it uses the word perverse as opposed to reckless. According to my google definition of the word perverse, it means "showing a deliberate and obstinate desire to behave in a way that is unreasonable or unacceptable, often in spite of the consequences".
Ouch! Do I do that? Am I deliberate in acting in an unacceptable way in spite of the consequences? Do I place my own desires before God's? I am not proud to say, but yes, I do. We all do. God obviously knew Balaam's intentions as He also knows ours.
It is interesting how the donkey could recognize the angel of the Lord, but Balaam could not. It would reason to say that when we are focused on ourselves, we will not see God and we actually have to go off the path to unknowingly avoid Him.
Up until this point, Balaam's actions and intentions were wrong, are ours?