Often times we are taught the most profound of truths from the most unusual of sources. Whether from someone we considered intellectually inferior to ourselves, a homeless person begging for change on the sidewalk, or yes, even a donkey, we often discover beautiful truths, wholesome truths, in the strangest of places. Because we care more about appearance than substance in our day and age, because we care more about the wrapping than the contents, we often dismiss truth because it was not delivered by a bright smile and a fancy suit.
A wise man is wise enough to learn wisdom whenever wisdom is presented to him, while a fool remains a fool no matter how much wisdom he encounters.
Today we will be learning from a donkey of all things, a beast of burden, which was beaten no less than three times by its master because the donkey was discerning enough to see the angel of the Lord blocking its way, while its master was not.
So what is it that we can learn from a donkey? What practical lessons can we glean from this animal?
The first lesson we can learn from a donkey is that sometimes it’s good to be stubborn.
The donkey is known for its stubbornness. It is one of the most stubborn animals that God created in fact, and sometimes it is good for us as children of God to be stubborn as donkeys.
We are on a journey and on this journey we must pass through enemy territory in order to reach our Canaan, or our promised land. There is much temptation both to the left and to the right, there are many distractions that seek to overwhelm the senses, but we must be stubborn in our resolve, we must be single minded in our purpose and keep following the path that has been laid out for us.
As Israel journeyed toward their promised land, they had to pass through a place called Edom. Edom was well known for its vineyards, and water wells, it was well known for its beautiful women and handsome men, yet when Moses sent messengers to Edom asking to pass through their territory, he emphasized the fact that he would not pass through their fields or vineyards, nor would he drink water from wells, he and the people that were with him would go along the King’s Highway, and no turn aside to the right hand or to the left until they had passed through their territory.
You must purpose in your heart to travel the King’s Highway and not turn aside to the right or to the left until you’ve passed through the enemy’s territory. Be resolute, be stubborn and let nothing tempt you away from that road that leads to eternity with Him. We have no choice but to pass through this world, we have no choice but to pass through Edom’s territories, but we hold to the King’s Highway, and no matter how grueling or difficult we keep walking through. We can’t vacation in Edom and then when we’re rested continue our journey on the King’s Highway, we can’t visit the shops and partake of Edom’s frivolities and when we’ve had our fill take a few more steps toward Canaan, we must neither look to the left or to the right, but simply walk the narrow road of faith, and stubbornly so.
The second lesson we can learn from a donkey is that it’s always good to be observant.
Know when God is standing in your way, and don’t let your desire to do a certain thing, or go to a certain place blind you to the reality thereof. Balaam had a destination in mind, and although the angel of the Lord blocked his way, it was the donkey that was observant enough to notice him, and stop in its tracks. It was also the donkey that lay down under Balaam, refusing to take another step until it either received permission to continue onward or Balaam instructed it to turn around. Be observant, be discerning, know when something is an obstacle in your path, and when it’s the angel of the Lord blocking it so that you might not pass that way.
We have a tendency to assume far too often, and whenever there is a hindrance, whenever things aren’t going right, we lay the blame on the enemy or on enemy attacks. Very rarely do we stop to consider that perhaps it’s God keeping us from heading in that direction, it’s God keeping us from causing ourselves spiritual harm by standing in our way.
It was the donkey that saved Balaam’s life, the selfsame donkey he said he would have killed if he’d had a sword in his hand, because Balaam’s mind was on other matters, and he did not behold the road ahead, or have enough discernment to see that his way was blocked.
Numbers 22:33, “The donkey saw Me and turned aside from Me these three times. If she had not turned aside from Me, surely I would also have killed you by now and let her live.”
It must have been a humbling moment for Balaam to realize that his donkey was wiser than he was, it must have been a humbling moment to realize that his donkey was more discerning, and observant, and spiritually aware than he who was a prophet.
The third lesson we can learn from a donkey is that of submission.
I am fully aware that submission is contradictory to stubbornness, but we must realize that donkeys, being the beasts of burden that they are, follow their master and allow themselves to be led. Be stubborn in doing your Master’s will, be stubborn in following the narrow path of faith, but submit to His guidance, and let Him guide you to green pastures.
It goes against human nature to practice submission of any kind, to desire to be led and not to lead. We think ourselves the masters of our own universes, lords of our own castles, and when God attempts to take us by the hand and guide us in the way we must go, we bristle and resist Him. On our own, we will surely wander from Him, on our own we will surely go where we ought not go, and do what we ought not to do. Submit to His sovereign guidance, because He will not lead you into desolate places, He will not lead you to places without water and nourishment for your soul, because He is a good Father, and a good God and a good Master.
The fourth lesson we can learn from a donkey, is that it is a privilege to see what others do not.
As a prophet with a reputation, perhaps even the prophet of his time to which a king sent messengers with a diviner’s fee, Balaam should have seen into the realm of the supernatural far more clearly than his donkey. As the Bible tells us however, it was not the case. Balaam was blind to the angel of the Lord, yet the donkey was privileged enough to see him.
We must realize the fact that we are privileged in that we see the events unfolding in the world today, very differently than the godless do. We are privileged to see what God has in store for humanity, we are privileged to have received His forewarnings far in advance of the calamities that are befalling the earth, and we are privileged to know that we are perpetually safe under the shadow of His wing.
Now that we’ve learned what there was to learn from Balaam’s donkey, all that’s left for us to do is apply our newfound knowledge, for knowledge without the application thereof is nothing more than occupied space in our minds. We know so much yet do so little, we see so often yet perceive so rarely, we receive so much wisdom yet apply it so sparingly, that it’s no wonder the church is in the spiritual maelstrom that it’s in.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.