When we read about Balaam and his talking donkey, we tend to focus on the miracle of an animal speaking to a human. But there is more to the story than that miracle.
Balak was the king of the Moabites. He saw the approaching Israelites and wanted Balaam to curse them. Balaam refused. Delegations from Balak came to ask for Balaam’s appearance promising a blessing if he would curse the Israelites. God told Balaam not to go Balak, but he refused. After some back and forth with God, Balaam got up one morning, saddled his donkey, and started off to meet the Moabite king.
On three different occasions in the journey, the pathway before Balaam narrowed. On the third narrowing, the donkey finally balked and sat down. Each time Balaam experienced a delay, he beat his donkey. “But God was angry that Balaam was going, so he sent the angel of the Lord to stand in the road to block his way” (Numbers 22:22).
On the third delay, Balaam’s donkey saw the angel of the Lord “standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand” (vs. 23). At that point, the Lord gave the donkey the ability to speak, “What have I done to you that deserves your beating me three times?” (vs. 28). Balaam was so upset with the delays that he said if he had a sword with him, he would kill the donkey.
“Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the roadway with a drawn sword in his hand” (vs. 31). The angel clarified his assignment, “I have come to block your way because you are stubbornly resisting me” (vs. 32).
Not all the restrictions and delays we face are from the devil. Some of them will reveal our stubbornness, even wanting to kill the messenger of the delay. It will be at this point the Lord will reorient our heart and mission to his original intent, even having supernatural events take place and the revelation of angelic beings sent to show us things we would not see had God not intervened and healed his messenger.