In our daily meditations over the last few days, we have discussed the unseen spiritual realm intersecting with this planet. This spiritual realm is a place where God's unseen angels are at work. When the Israelite people traveled from Egypt to the land that God had given them, they had to pass through the country of Moab, whose king was Balak. Balak needed some help to try to overcome Israel, so he sent for Balaam, the seer, to curse Israel so that he could defeat them.
Balaam was a man who could move into the spiritual realm and place a curse on people. God told Balaam not to go at first, but Balaam would not hear the word no, and he pleaded until God said go, with the restriction that he was only to speak what God gave him. On the way, though, his heart began to think of the promise of high reward and how he could get it (2 Peter 2:15). In God’s protection of His people, He sent an angel to cut off Balaam’s head. When the donkey on which Balaam was riding saw the angel on the path ahead, he tried to steer Balaam away, crushing his foot against a wall in the process. Balaam couldn’t see the angel and beat his donkey twice by the time we enter the story:
26Then the angel of the LORD moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or the left. 27When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat her with his staff. 28Then the LORD opened the donkey's mouth, and she said to Balaam, "What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?" 29Balaam answered the donkey, "You have made a fool of me! If I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now." 30The donkey said to Balaam, "Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?" "No," he said. 31Then the LORD opened Balaam's eyes, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown (Numbers 22:26-31).
Overcome by greed, Balaam was oblivious to what his donkey was doing to save his life. God mercifully gave the ability for Balaam’s donkey to speak to Balaam and rebuke him. The Lord would not allow His people to be cursed. If he was going to give in to a spirit of greed, the Lord was ready to give His angel permission to cut off his head. Like Balaam, we often go headlong into situations in ministry or work where there are unseen spiritual forces at work. If we are not sensitive spiritually to God, we can be influenced by demonic forces (Matthew 16:23). How merciful the Lord was to speak to Balaam through his donkey. Wouldn't you like to have been a fly on the wall watching Balaam have an angry conversation with his donkey?
This story is another example of something happening in the unseen realm of which humans (Balaam) were completely unaware. It is interesting to note that the donkey was more aware of the invisible realm than Balaam was. I'm sure many of us that have a dog or a cat has noticed the animal looking around the room at something unseen by us. Animals are known to sense spiritual things. They may be looking at angels that continually watch over believers.
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them (Psalm 34:7). If you know the Lord through what Christ has done on your behalf, you have angels watching over you. Keith Thomas