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Now it came to pass as the Israelites traveled through the wilderness, the people of Moab were afraid of them because they were very strong. And so the king, whose name was Balak, sent messengers to a man named Balaam, to ask him to curse the Israelites so that the Moabites would be able to drive them out of the land. (to curse means that the King wanted Balaam to wish bad things would to come upon the Israelites)
The messengers went to Balaam with presents to give him if he would curse the Israelites, and so Balaam asked them to spend the night, and told the messengers that in the morning he would tell them his answer.
That night God came to Balaam and asked him who the men were that stayed with him. (but we know that God knows everything, he was testing Balaam to see if he would tell the truth.) And Balaam told God the truth, and God told Balaam "You shall not go with them, you shall not curse the people, for they are blessed"
And so in the morning Balaam told the messengers that the LORD refused to let Balaam go with them. After that, Balak sent more men to Balaam, and they told Balaam that Balak promised to make him a very great man, if he would come and curse the Israelites.
But Balaam said even if Balak gave him his house full of silver and gold, he still could not do anything unless the Lord gave him permission, and again Balaam asked them to spend the night. This time God came to Balaam and told him to go with the men if they came to call him, but he was to do what the LORD told him to do.
And so in the morning Balaam got up and saddled his donkey, and went with the men, he did not wait for them to come and call him as God had commanded him to. God was angry because Balaam went with the men, and an angel stood in the road to stop him. Balaam was riding his donkey, and his two servants were with him.
When Balaam's donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with a sword in his hand, she turned away from the angel and went into the field. Balaam hit his donkey, to make her go on the road again, because he could not see the angel. But the angel stood with a wall on one side, and a wall on the other side, and when the donkey saw the angel, she threw herself against the wall, and crushed Balaam's foot against the wall, and he hit her again.
Then the angel of the LORD stood where the donkey could not turn away, and when she saw the angel, she fell down under Balaam and Balaam was very angry, and he hit the donkey with a staff. (that is like a long stick).
Then a wonder happened - the LORD let the donkey speak like a person, and she said to Balaam, "What have I done to you, that you have hit me these three times?" And Balaam answered the donkey "Because you have mocked me, if I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you now".
And the donkey said to Balaam "Am I not your donkey, which you have ridden since I became yours? Did I ever not do what you wanted me to do?" And Balaam answered "No." (It is also a wonder that Balaam talked to the donkey, can you imagine what it would be like if your pet spoke to you?)
Then the LORD let Balaam see the angel standing in the road with a sword in his hand, and Balaam bowed his head and fell flat on his face. And the angel said to him, "Why have you hit your donkey three times? I went out to stop you because your way is wrong. And this donkey saw me, and turned away three times, if she had not done this, by now I would have killed you, and kept her alive."
Balaam said to the angel of the LORD, "I have sinned; because I did not know that you stood in the road, now if what I am doing is evil to you, I will go back". The angel told Balaam to go with the men, but only speak the words that he was told to. And so Balaam went with the men.
What a miracle that God showed his power by allowing the donkey to speak like a human, and what a miracle that the donkey saw the angel when Balaam did not.
Memory Verse: Numbers 22:12 " ...thou shalt not curse the people, for they are blessed."
1. Why did Balak want Balaam to curse the people of Israel?
2. Why did Balaam hit his donkey?
3. What did Balaam do when he finally saw the angel?
1. Because they were mighty, and Balak wanted to be able to drive them out of the land of Moab.
2. Because he couldn't see the angel, he just thought that his donkey was being disobedient.
3. He bowed his head, and fell flat on his face, then he told the angel that he had sinned, and that he would go back.
Vicki C. Gross/Sept.'02