Saturday, August 14, 2010
The Madness Of The Prophet ...
Here's a little story about one of my very distant relatives who was one of the most loyal, obedient, trustworthy and God-fearing critters to ever bear the sore encumbrance of transporting a human being upon her strong back, a fellow by the name of Balaam, a prophet as a matter of fact ... now it was in no way a noteworthy feat that this faithful Equus asinus was the chief mode of transportation for this particular prophet, seeing that us beasts of burden have toted about all manner of folks from common peasants and paupers to royalty such as queens and kings, including our Lord Jesus Christ as he entered Jerusalem ... no, the remarkable thing about this donkey was that she could speak with a human voice ... and speak she did!
The account goes as such ... there was this king that resided happily alongside of a river ... all of a sudden a large throng of folks came up out of the land of Egypt and pitched their tents on the plains right beside of this king ... so many folks that they seemingly covered the face of the entire earth ... this distressed the king immensely because he had heard that these people were fierce warriors who had destroyed just about everybody they had encountered along the way ... and he had sense enough to know that he could not whoop them with what little help he had around there ... so he forthwith sent word throughout his kingdom to beware of his new, unwelcome neighbors for he feared they would lick up everything in sight as an ox licks up the grass of the field ... then the king remembered that there was a certain prophet by the name of Balaam dwelling in the land that whomsoever he cursed was cursed and whomsoever he blessed was blessed, so he sent some messengers to go fetch this prophet and have him come curse the fearful multitude now abiding next to him.
The next day the king's messengers gathered gifts with which to entice Balaam the prophet, and upon locating him they explained the king's conundrum along with presenting his request ... Balaam told the messengers to remain there with him that night and he would give them his answer first thing in the morning as to whatsoever the Lord should command him to do ... that night the Lord came to Balaam the prophet and enquired as to what these men were that were lodging there with him ... so Balaam recounted the men's request and purpose for being there ... the Lord's command was for Balaam to not go with them, and to not curse those folks that had came up out of the land of Egypt--for they were blessed ... well the next morning Balaam gave the king's messengers his answer, and told them to get on back to where they had came from ... when the messengers reported back to the king he was more than a bit disappointed, and called for his more honourable princes to go to the prophet Balaam with the promise that he would be promoted to heights of great honour if he would let nothing hinder him from coming to curse those dreadful people ... Balaam's reply to those princes was that he could do no less nor do no more beyond what the Lord had commanded him to do, even if the king were to give him his house full of silver and gold ... so Balaam told the king's princes to stay overnight until he could again hear what the Lord might command him ... that night the Lord commanded the prophet Balaam to go with the king's princes ... but to not curse those people who were blessed.
Now here's the part pertaining to my distant kin ... the next morning Balaam the prophet saddled his ass ... ass being his donkey ... my kin ... and went with the king's princes along with two of his own servants, evidently with the intention of cursing those folks who were blessed ... this angered the Lord greatly, and so an angel of the Lord stood in the way as an adversary against Balaam the prophet ... now Balaam didn't see the angel standing in the way with sword drawn ... but my relative did ... and turned aside into a field out of the path so as to avoid the angel, to which Balaam smote my relative and turned her back in the way ... but there stood the angel of the Lord in a path of the vineyards with a wall being on each side ... again Balaam did not see the angel ... but again my relative did ... as she thrust herself against a wall thus crushing the prophet's foot, and he again smote her ... so the angel went further, and stood in a narrow way where there was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left ... this time when my kin saw the angel of the Lord she just fell down under Balaam as he mercilessly smote her with a staff.
And the Lord opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, "What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times? ... And Balaam said unto the ass, "Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee." ... And the ass said unto Balaam, "Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee?" and he said, "Nay." ... Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face. And the angel of the Lord said unto him, "Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times, behold, I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before me: And the ass saw me, and turned from me these three times: unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive." --Numbers chapter 22 ... well ol' Balaam continued on the way with the king's princes, but to the king's dismay he ended up placing a blessing rather than a curse on those blessed folks that came up out of the land of Egypt ... and Balaam's actions now greatly pleased the Lord ... I reckon there are countless messages contained within this story, and just as many opinions that could be formed ... that's for the reader to decide ... one thought that keeps jumping out is that it's no more astounding to me that a donkey should speak than it is for a man!