The story of Balaam and the donkey teaches us that God is always faithful to His people and protects them from all dangers, known and unknown.
The Fascinating Story of Balaam and the Donkey
3 Essential Lessons from the Story of Balaam and the Donkey
The story of Balaam and the donkey shows us that a prophet who was well-renowned in his time and heard God’s voice was greedy enough to compromise his principles and lost the favor of the king whom he tried to appease.
Lesson 1 from Balaam and the Donkey Story: Get Your Heart and Walk Right With God; Do Not Compromise
Our heart and walk are right with God only when we truly desire what is righteous and when we set our hearts on what God desires. The story of Balaam and the donkey instructs us that we should never compromise truth and faith for the sake of getting along with others and for material benefits.
Initially, Balaam said and did the right things. When Balak’s officials offered him a “diviner’s fee” (Numbers 22:7), he responded to them, saying that though the King were to give his house full of gold and silver, he would not do anything of his own accord and not go beyond the word of God and say only what the Lord says. Even when he met King Balak face to face, he said that will cannot say whatever he pleases, but only what God puts in his mouth.
It seems Balaam was a man of righteousness and wanted to be right with God. However, the prophet’s later actions show us a different picture. We find out that it is enough to say the right things but doing the right things is what is important in our relationship with God.
Much to the dismay of Balak, Balaam refused to curse the Israelites. He blessed the people of Israel according to the Lord’s Will and Word; however, he became a curse to them as he took action that led God’s people to sin against Him and His commandments. The Israelites committed harlotry with the Moabite woman and worshiped their idols (Numbers 25:1-3).
Balaam played a significant role in the sinful conduct of the people of Israel. According to Revelation 2:14, he taught Balak to take an alternate course of action to undermine the Israelites. They ate food sacrificed to foreign gods and indulged in sexual immorality. Balaam would have thought that God will condemn Israel, and he would be collecting his reward from Balak.
Another motivating factor for Balaam’s actions was his love for money. He was all about profiteering. According to 1 Timothy 6:10, the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Balaam was extremely greedy in that he sold his soul loving the wages of unrighteousness (2 Peter 2:15) (Jude 1:11).
The disastrous consequence of his actions was the loss of lives. Israelites numbering 24,000 lost their lives to a plague because they yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor. (Numbers 25:3 and 9).
God wants us to love others in action and truth (1 John 3:18) and be a blessing to them. We should never indulge in evil behavior behind the scenes as it is bound to have a major influence on things taking place out in the open. We must not attempt to gain personal wealth by teaching and encouraging wrong behavior.
Many good people over the centuries have gone away from the path of faith and truth because of their uncontrollable love of money. We should not change biblical teaching or principles to gain income or wealth and never compromise on the truth.
Balaam’s heart was not right with God, and he errored by throwing away his principles because of his greed for money and honor. Moreover, his doctrine was corrupted over time.
Lesson 2 from Balaam and the Donkey Story: God Is Faithful and Defends His People Even Though They Turn Against Him
The story of Balaam and the donkey reveals God’s unwavering faithfulness to his chosen people, even when they sin against him, and illustrates his determination to bless his people who least deserve his favor. He protects them from all dangers and makes sure that no one can curse what he has blessed.
The people of Israel were unfaithful to God after all the good things he had done for them. They complained about the food and water supply and spoke against God and His prophet Moses (Numbers 21:4-9). Though they deserved to be handed over to their enemies, God remained devoted and loyal to his people.
We should remember that no one can curse what God has blessed. Though King Balak wanted the soothsayer Balaam to curse the children of Israel, God did not allow Balaam to say anything against Israel, but in turn, made him bless them. Though we face many difficulties in our walk with God and sin against Him, God’s blessing is permanent, and he never takes back his blessing though he will discipline us (not condemn us) if we go away from the way of truth. Our disobedience will make the blessing redundant temporarily.
We should never attempt to mingle light and darkness, mix the truth with falsehood, and confuse the boundary between right and wrong.
We should be joyful in knowing that God imparts His righteousness to those who put their faith in Him. His promises are sure, and He is who He says He is, and that He always will do what He says He will do. Once God chooses us to be His people, He will protect us from all our enemies and give us victory over temptations and trials because He is our deliverer. If our walk with God is faithful and obedient, we will receive abundance and good health, and we shall possess the strength, power, and boldness of a lion since the Spirit of God dwells in us and empowers us.
Lesson 3 from Balaam and the Donkey Story: God Can Use Anything/Anyone to Accomplish His Purpose
The Balaam and the donkey story demonstrates that God can use anything or anyone to accomplish His plan. God is immeasurably creative, and He gave the donkey the ability to speak to reach Balaam. When He wants us to know His will, nothing can limit Him, and He will employ any means to connect with us.
We can see from the story of Balaam and the donkey that the prophet was so blinded with rage and fury that he did not realize he was talking to his donkey. Balaam and the donkey have a conversation about cruelty to animals. He beat the donkey though it saved His life. Balaam was not able to decipher what God was trying to convey to Him.
Here, the Lord used the donkey for His purpose. It was much wiser than the famous and powerful prophet. The Almighty Creator miraculously used a “dumb donkey” to admonish Balaam for his iniquity (2 Peter 2:16). Balaam’s donkey shows that God knows how to make Himself heard.
Our God is a God of impossibilities. If our minds and hearts are closed to the Lord, He will get through to us in any way.
We must know that God will use whatever means necessary to get our attention and show us what He needs us to do. The Balaam and the donkey story shows that if God is willing to give the power of speaking to a donkey, He knows how to be heard and get His point across.
We are encouraged by the fact that if the Creator can use a donkey, He can probably use us too. Though we may lack abilities and gifts as others, God can still use us for His purpose. Sometimes we are confused whether we are hearing God’s voice and have we missed the point He was making.
We do not have to be worried, as God will make Himself heard clearly if He is going to use us for His purpose. If we are not listening to God and obeying His commands, He will surely use someone or something to get our attention. If God can use a braying donkey as a spokesperson, He can use anything to get His message across.
We will feel good and happy if the Supreme Being worked in us or through us. However, we should be humble because God is not helpless without us. He can do whatever He pleases with whomever He chooses, and we should be willing like the talking donkey and not resistant like the bad prophet.