Monday, December 10, 2018

Advent Angels 10

The next group of angels all in some way protect or guide people, so I have called them all Guardian Angels.

The Israelites are being led by Moses through the desert on their way to the Promised Land of Canaan, but the lands through which this caravan of ex-slaves passes is not empty. It belongs to various tribes, none of whom are pleased to see this huge crowd enter their territories. What if they decide not to move on? Balak, the king of Moab, decides to send for a Moabite holy man, Balaam, to curse the Israelites. Numbers 22.1-21 describes how Balaam is reluctant to go at first – he recognises the power of the God of these people. Eventually he concedes, and sets off on his donkey to meet the King near where the Israelites are encamped.

In the story in today’s reading, though, we discover that, though Balaam is now keen to make the journey, his donkey has other ideas. The donkey can see what Balaam can’t, that there is a large and ferocious angel barring the way. Eventually the donkey points this out to Balaam (this is one of only two “talking animal” stories in the Bible – the other is the snake who talks to Eve in the Garden of Eden).

In the end, though Balaam does meet with King Balak, he refuses to curse the Israelites. He cannot curse what God has blessed.

·         Have you ever found the way ahead that you wanted to take blocked? Looking back have you ever seen that this was actually a good thing, even if it felt frustrating at the time?

·         Whose voices do you listen to when you need to make a decision? Do we sometimes need to pay attention to the voices of the “donkey” , the voices we are tempted to write off as unimportant?

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