Lack of Vision = Collateral Damage-August 28, 2013
Numbers 22: 21-38
“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” Proverbs 29:18
This is an interesting story of both things that are seen and unseen. Just because one may have sight does not mean that they have vision. For where there is no vision, the people perish. We must trust an all-knowing God about a not-yet-seen future and acting up it in faith. True vision brings keeps us focused and on the right path, it protects and blesses, and it gives life not death.
Balaam was a diviner, a seer, although he was not part of the people of Israel. Balaam was contacted by the King Balak of Moab to put a curse on the people of Israel because the Lord had blessed them and they were becoming numerous. Balak began to fear for the interests of his country. God had instructed Balaam not to go and after a second delegation came, Balaam consulted the Lord again and was told to go but only say what I tell you to say. Now it is the next morning and Balaam saddles up his donkey to go on the way.
It would seem odd that the story being with the Lord telling Balaam to go and then seeming to be angry that Balaam is actually going. The Lord sent an Angel or messenger to speak with Balaam. The interesting and almost comical is that the man who is a great seer, is unable to see what his own donkey does. It is right before him. Many times in a rush to do things for the Lord we may forget to listen to the Lord and try to understand what it is He would want us to both say and do. There is nothing wrong with having passion and excitement as long as our passion is for the Lord and that in seeking Him we follow faithfully each detail.
This encounter causes Balaam’s donkey to act in ways that the donkey would not normally be accustomed to doing. The donkey sees that an angel of the Lord was standing in the way with sword drawn and the donkey tries to go another way. The angel then moves and donkey moves closer to a wall and crushes Balaam leg by accident. Then the angel moves in and blocks the way for the donkey and the animal seeing that there was no other safe option submitted and lay down under Balaam. Each of these three instances Balaam a professional seer was not able to see what his donkey could and beat her for it rather than trying to understand her instincts. This was out of character for his donkey.
This story makes an even more interesting twist as God opens the mouth of the donkey and she and Balaam have a conversation like it was something they did all the time. Finally, the donkey gets a chance to ask about why he was beaten three times. Balaam’s answer was he was embarrassed and that if he had the means to he would have killed her on the spot. The donkey then asks Balaam, “have I ever done this to you before?” Balaam answers “no.”
Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes and he saw the angel with his sword drawn and falls on his face. The angel asks the same question as the donkey “why did you beat the donkey?” Balaam is not so quick to say anything, and the angel said, the donkey moved away from me three times if the donkey had tried to pass I would have killed you and not her. Balaam’s donkey had actually saved his life and was getting beaten by him for it. How quickly does Balaam turn from being angry and offering his embarrassment as an excuse to realizing how embarrassing he was for being and unseeing seer. His immediate response it acknowledging that he had sinned. How many of us as soon as we are confronted with sin in our lives are so quick to acknowledge it. Balaam then states that he didn’t realize the angel was there to oppose him and that he will gladly go back if the angels wanted him to.
This encounter reminds Balaam of the only reason why God let him go in the first place to repeat the words of the Lord to Balak and his princes. It is a reminder that this sight only comes from the Lord and we need to be sensitive and ready to see what the Lord is trying to say to us. It serves as a reminder of the blessing of Israel, of the fortunate outcome of Balaam’s donkey stopping and that spared his life.
When we try to do the Lord’s work without the Lord’s blessing or instruction, He can and will stop us if necessary. The one with the vision was the donkey and in a wise move prevented collateral damage because she used her sight to spare Balaam. Balaam had to learn that also would have to trust and submit to the vision the Lord would give him and only speak the words of the Lord. If Balaam had done what Balak wanted him to do and try to curse Israel, how much more collateral damage could have happened. When Balaam arrives he is very clear by now that he can only speak the words that God puts in his mouth. How hard would that be for us to do, only to speak words that the Lord put into our mouths? There would be no gossip or back biting or many other things that can cause more collateral damage.
In this case if there was not a vision made plain to Balaam, he could have been killed at that moment by the angel. God would not allow Balaam to curse what He had blessed and we must be very cautious not to do the same. People of vision are able to not only see God’s call but to respond in faithfulness. Will we need our dog or horse to have better instincts that we do to save us or will seek Him, follow Him, and only speak the words He gives us to say? If we do this we will truly be seeing God and His will more clearly and that will bring collateral blessing not damage. Do you want to be a blessing to others?