Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey, and went off with the noblemen from Moab. As he was going, though, God’s anger flared. The angel of God stood in the road to block his way. Balaam was riding his donkey, accompanied by his two servants. When the donkey saw the angel blocking the road and brandishing a sword, she veered off the road into the ditch. Balaam beat the donkey and got her back on the road. But as they were going through a vineyard, with a fence on either side, the donkey again saw God’s angel blocking the way and veered into the fence, crushing Balaam’s foot against the fence. Balaam hit her again.

God’s angel blocked the way yet again—a very narrow passage this time; there was no getting through on the right or left. Seeing the angel, Balaam’s donkey sat down under him. Balaam lost his temper; he beat the donkey with his stick. Then God gave speech to the donkey. She said to Balaam: ‘What have I ever done to you that you have beat me these three times?’

Balaam said, ‘Because you’ve been playing games with me! If I had a sword I would have killed you by now.’

The donkey said to Balaam, ‘Am I not your trusty donkey on whom you’ve ridden for years right up until now? Have I ever done anything like this to you before? Have I?’

He said, ‘No.’

Then God helped Balaam see what was going on: He saw God’s angel blocking the way, brandishing a sword. Balaam fell to the ground, his face in the dirt.

God’s angel said to him: ‘Why have you beaten your poor donkey these three times? I have come here to block your way because you’re getting way ahead of yourself. The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If she hadn’t, I would have killed you by this time, but not the donkey. I would have let her off.’

Balaam said to God’s angel, ‘I have sinned. I had no idea you were standing in the road blocking my way. If you don’t like what I’m doing, I’ll head back.’

But God’s angel said to Balaam, ‘Go ahead and go with them. But only say what I tell you to say—absolutely no other word.’

And so Balaam continued to go with Balak’s nobles.” Numbers 22:21-35 (MSG)


Balak, the king of Moab, sent for Balaam to have him come and curse the Israelites. The Israelites were a threat to Moab, and he wanted to eliminate his fear. At the first request, Balaam declined to go to Balak after inquiring of the Lord. The noblemen of Balak came back to Balaam a second time, requesting that Balaam go with them to meet Balak. After inquiring of the Lord a second time, God said that he could go. On the way to Moab, Balaam’s donkey kept being disobedient. It would stop in the middle of the road, go into the ditch, and not move. Out of Balaam’s frustration, Balaam started taking his frustration out on the donkey, and the donkey talked to him. The irony of the situation is that Balaam responded. He stood there in the middle of the road having a conversation with a donkey. The reality that this unusual situation was happening should have caused Balaam to stop and reevaluate. Why was a donkey talking to him? God was using something unusual to try to get Balaam’s attention. As these moments unfolded, God showed Balaam what was really happening. God’s angel was blocking the way, and the donkey responded by avoiding an encounter with the angel. The obstacle actually saved his life. Balaam had heard a response from God, he was walking in obedience, but he was getting ahead of God’s plan. God used something as simple as a donkey he was riding. As the story unfolds, Balaam goes to Balak but only says what God commands, and he blessed the Israelites. 

In our lives, Balaam’s experience is all too similar to our own experience. We might not be confronted by an angel with a sword or a donkey talking to us, but we can take God’s direction, starting running, and ask God to follow us. When we get ahead of God and what He is doing, we can still be headed in the right direction, just at the wrong time. In following God, there is the issue of direction, as well as timing. When we follow our own time schedule, we have the potential to get ahead of God. When we encounter roadblocks along the way, we can experience immense frustration. We think that we received direction from God, but it seems that the obstacles will derail the plan. Although sometimes obstacles simply need to be overcome, we have to have the wisdom and discernment to understand how God is working in the situation. Is God trying to get your attention and redirect you? If so, we need to have the wisdom to respond to God’s leading. As we follow God’s leading, it is important for us to be sensitive to His timing. Sometimes we think that the situation is only dependent upon us. As in Balaam’s experience, God was working in the hearts of the people that he would encounter before Balaam arrived. As you follow God, don’t get ahead of him, but have the patience to walk with Him in obedience. 

Scripture taken from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002.  Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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About Hona Amer

I help people live life to the fullest. Check out my book, Smart Work U. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. In order to receive updates, subscribe below.




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