The prophet Balaam was being recruited by a Moabite king named Balak. Balak wanted Balaam to curse the nation of Israel so he could defeat them. Balak was going to pay the prophet well for this special curse. Balaam knew that the Lord was not in this endeavor but finally decided to get on his donkey to inquire further about this good paying opportunity. God was testing the resolve of his prophet by permitting him to go. As Balaam traveled the pathway his donkey stopped because she saw the angel of the Lord blocking the way. Balaam didn’t see the angel and proceeded to hit the donkey with a stick. Two more times Balaam beat his defenseless donkey. Finally the Lord gave the donkey the gift of speech and she asked him why he was striking her. Then God opened Balaam’s eyes and he saw the angel.
Donkeys are known for being stubborn animals but in this case the prophet was more stubborn by far. Balaam wanted the money even though God forbid him from cursing Israel. He was told firmly by the Lord, but was always looking for a loophole to get around simple obedience. Balaam never was able to curse Israel even though he strung Balak along several times. However, his stubborn pursuit of profit led him to tell Balak how he could defeat Israel by having the Moabites intermarry with the people of God.
God’s people today can be just as stubborn as Balaam. When we read the plain teachings of scripture and look for loopholes, we become just like him. We may even try to use force to insist on our own way. The book of Revelation contains a warning to the church of Pergamum that recalls the story of Balaam and his stubborn disobedience and wicked plans. Revelation 2:14 says: “But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality”. Balaam tried to go around God’s will while his donkey obeyed. Don’t be more stubborn than a donkey.