The angel of the Lord asked him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me.The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If she had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared her.” – Numbers 22: 32-33 (NIV) I love the story in Numbers 22 of Balaam and his donkey. Balaam was a diviner in his time and the King of Moab had sent for him to pronounce a curse upon Israel. Moab was worried because of the recent military successes Israel had enjoyed to neighboring countries and kingdoms. Fearing they would be next, King Balak sends for Balaam but he refuses to come because God has told him in a dream to not curse the blessed people of Israel. Undeterred, Balak ups the ante and sends even more important people to entice Balaam to come to him. Isn’t that just like the enemy? When we successfully stand for God, the devil will up the ante on what entices us. Sin doesn’t give up and go home. Balaam heads off to meet the king and God is not pleased. The Bible says that God dispatched an angel with a drawn sword to block the path. Twice the donkey Balaam was riding veered away to avoid confronting the angel of the Lord. Balaam did not see the angel so twice he beat the donkey to try and get him to move. The third time however God had enough: Then 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 to the left. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat her with his staff. Then 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?”Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made a fool of me! If I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.”The 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. Then 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 (NIV) Can you just picture this scene? The donkey objects to being beaten and Balaam starts to debate with the donkey about who is right! The donkey finally has to make a point which Balaam had overlooked. If the donkey had never done this before – maybe Balaam was missing something. Sure enough God opens his eyes and he sees the angel of the Lord with his sword drawn and we come to the key verses. Within these verses are some applications for us in our walk. The first application is that God will oppose us if we are on the wrong path. “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. – Matthew 7: 13-14 (NIV) We know that the Bible says that God does not want any to perish beloved. He wants all to come to salvation. Sometimes I think we wrongly assume God just “lets things happen.” We hear all the time about His permissive will, where God allows bad things to happen. While the permissive will of God is all around us that does not change His desire to see everyone saved nor does it mean that He will not try to get our attention. Look at the key verses. The angel says quite frankly that if it wasn’t for the donkey – the angel would have killed Balaam! God did not make the donkey veer off the path. The donkey veered because he saw an angel with a drawn sword! The problem wasn’t the donkey; the problem was Balaam. He couldn’t see the angel. That brings us to application number two. Spiritual blindness is a direct side effect of walking on a reckless path. Realize there are many reckless paths we can find ourselves on as believers. We can be on a path of disobedience or mixed obedience. We can find ourselves on the path of leaven – where we compromise the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We can find ourselves on the path of false teaching – being led astray by anything that tickles our ears. Sitting in a church does not save you beloved – only a real and genuine relationship with Jesus Christ will. Tithing will not save you. Ministry works will not save you. Leading in the church including serving on the board or even preaching will not save you. No matter what reckless path we might find ourselves on we can count on a few things. One, God does not want us on that path. Two, He will try to get our attention to get off the path of destruction. Three, if we resist enough, His permissive will eventually will rule the day and He will allow us to walk right into the drawn sword. God was trying to get Balaam’s attention before he ran into the angel. Likewise, He will try to get our attention as well. But are we seeking God on the spiritual level? Are our spiritual eyes open? God is probably not going to send an angel to block our path but if He did, would we see it? Our recklessness can lead to all sorts of spiritual problems. We can fail to perceive the conviction of the Holy Spirit within us. We can refuse to accept anything the Lord is trying to say and dismiss them with religious rationales. The worst form of spiritual blindness however is when we confuse our darkness for light: But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is! – Matthew 6: 23 How deep indeed! There are many today who fancy themselves walking in the light but in reality they could not see the angel with a drawn sword standing in front of them if they tried. I am sure we all know people like this. There is simply no talking to them. There is a spiritual haughtiness to them that they do not see nor want to see. When anything positive happens in life they immediately point to it as an act of the Spirit of God confirming their walk. When anything negative happens however, they search for the nearest donkey to beat. The story of Balaam and his donkey provides us with some things to consider for today. The first is that God will oppose us if we are on the wrong road. That is a good thing! To serve a God who does not want to give up on anyone. The second application however is that spiritual blindness can often occur if we find ourselves on a reckless path before God. Thirdly, God will try and get our attention if we are on the reckless path but we bear a responsibility to be spiritually aware, lest we walk right into the drawn sword of the angel of the Lord. Rev. Anthony.