A Heavenly Beat Down

What You’ve Missed…
* You know that scene at the end of Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade where Indy almost falls into the bottomless abyss that opens up when that uber hot German lady tries to take the Holy Grail out of the temple?  Well, that actually happened…except instead of the Holy Grail being the cause of everything, it was a rebellion against Moses. And instead of one hot German chick and a few Nazis losing their lives, it was lots of men, women, children, babies and all their possessions.
* Oh yeah, and God followed that up by immediately unleashing his fire on 250 men burning incense, incinerating them immediately.  And I thought “finishing moves” in Mortal Kombat were over the top.
* God’s not into any kind of golden calf idol, but He does have Moses create a bronze snake statue, which He uses to heal people who have been bitten by poisonous snakes. I never knew the hair of the dog mentality had such Godly roots.

Day 65
Daily Reading: Numbers 22-24

So the Israelites are trekking through the desert when they come upon an area called Moab. Now according to biblical numbers, it looks like the Israelites were adding up to be more than a million people at this point. That’s a fairly large group to be wandering up to your border, uninvited. (Imagine if one-million Mexicans came up to the U.S. border…wall or no wall, Obama’s taking us to DefCon 1 and mobilizing a ton of Army dudes to go and “maintain order”. Let’s hope for his sake he’s wearing a solid pair of Depends during this whole thing.)

But Balak, the Moab king takes a different approach. He calls upon a known prophet in the area named Balaam to come and curse the Israelites. Balaam initially refuses, but eventually agrees to come check out the scene for himself, on the stated condition he can only do or say what God tells him to do or say. (I found it interesting this guy was a true prophet of God, yet not a member of God’s chosen people.  I guess I assumed in the Old Testament that God only worked with the Israelites.)

However, God isn’t too pleased that Balaam would be willing to go at all, so He blocks the road that Balaam is traveling on with an angel wielding a sword. Now, Balaam can’t see the angel, but his donkey sure can and his donkey knows this situation won’t end well, so it bolts off the road into a field.

Balaam beats his donkey for this.

As they continue, the donkey tries to ride by the angel, squeezing between it and a wall, injuring Balaam’s foot in the process.

Balaam beats his donkey for this.

As they continue, the donkey finally lays down in the middle of the road, refusing to go near the angel.

Balaam beats his donkey for this.

And it is here, dear reader, that the movie Shrek becomes less an animated work of fiction and more of a documentary film.

“Then the LORD gave the donkey the ability to speak, ‘What have I done to you that deserves your beating me three times?’ asked the donkey. ‘You have made me look like a fool! If I had a sword with me I’d kill you!’ Balaam shouted. ‘Have I ever done anything like this before?’ asked the donkey. ‘No.’ admitted Balaam.” (Slight paraphrase of Numbers 22:28-30)

Okay. Two questions. One: In a joke only God would understand at the time, did He have the donkey talk like Eddie Murphy? (You know, slightly sassy yet completely endearing at the same time?) Two (and more importantly): Why doesn’t Balaam react at all to the fact that he is having a legitimate conversation with a farm animal? In the version of Old Macdonald I know the donkey makes an abrasive and annoying donkey noise followed by E, I, E, I, O…not “Quit hitting me you jerk,” followed by A, E, I, O, U and sometimes Y.

Balaam doesn’t bat an eye at the fact his donkey just made a sound, reasonable, and calm attempt at conflict resolution. Instead he reacts like he’s all jacked up on steroids getting all huffy and defensive and making instantaneous death threats towards a harmless animal. And this guy is one of God’s prophets?

Anyway…Balaam finally sees the angel who says he would have killed Balaam and spared the donkey in a heartbeat. Balaam admits he was wrong, goes on to King Balak, and ends up blessing all of the Israelites instead of cursing them.

It just goes to show…when it comes to God speaking to His people, He can even use a real ass.