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Ruthe's Secret Roses - by Ruth Marlene Friesen
Ruthe's Secret Roses
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Angel Holdups

Balak was the king of Moab (now Jordan), and when the Israelite people left Egypt and moved in to claim their promised land, their camp site just outside of Moab was so huge, with about a million people, that it scared King Balak into an utter panic. He knew of a prophet named Balaam who was suppose to have some connection to God. Balak sent some of his princes to ask him to come curse the Israelite people.

Balaam got a clear "no" from God, and sent them on their way. King Balak didn't want to hear no, so he sent a larger, more influential bunch of princes to ask again, with promises of bigger rewards.

That night God gave Balaam limited permission to go provided he would bless and not curse His people.

This is where the story gets odd. Balaam saddled his donkey and headed after these princes, but three times his donkey saw the Angel of the LORD, with a sword, that Balaam did not see. The first time the donkey veered off into a field in fright. Balaam beat her to get her back on the road.

The second time it was at a narrow path between two walled vineyards. The donkey shied into a wall, crushing Balaam's leg. Once more he beat his poor donkey.

The Angel of the LORD moved ahead, and met them in a more narrow place where there was no room to go right or left, or even to turn around. When the donkey saw the angel again, she laid down under Balaam. Once more he beat his poor donkey.

Then God gave the donkey the ability to speak. She said, "What have I done that you have beat me three times?"

Balaam complained, "You've made a fool out of me. If I had a sword I'd kill you!"

The donkey replied, "Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden? Am I in the habit of doing this to you?"

At this point the Lord opened Balaam's eyes to see the Angel of the LORD. He was asked again why he'd beaten the donkey. The Angel confirmed that the donkey was trying to save Balaam from his sword. If she hadn't turned he would've been killed by this sword.

Balaam repented. Well. I think Balaam still wanted the prizes. He said, "Now if you are displeased, I will go back." (What part of NO didn't he understand?)

You can read the whole dramatic story in chapters 22-24 in Numbers of the Bible. See how this turned out. But already I see some personal applications we can make.

Apparently animals can see angels even if we humans are too obtuse. This was an appearance of the Angel of the LORD again, which many scholars say is Christ before He came as baby Jesus.

The really interesting question however, is, how often has an angel, or Christ Himself, tried to keep me from doing something foolish, and despite the fact that catastrophes seemed to conspire to keep me from that goal, I still pressed on?

You've experienced it too, right? All because of some personal reward we hoped to get.

But sometimes we are to persevere regardless of all hindrances. How shall we know when it is an angel, and whatever is "our donkey," telling us to quit?

Balaam did right to ask the Lord when he got the invitation to go curse. His mistake was to desire the personal rewards more than to discern God's true will in the matter.

By holding our own desires apart when asking God what to do, and giving Him first preeminence, we can avoid Balaam's mistake, and keep from being held up by an angel.

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