Advent Series - December 9


December 9

The Israelites lived in the desert for 40 years. As time went on, Moses’ sister died then his older brother Aaron died.

Then the Israelites began to complain that they were tired of eating manna all the time!

Can you believe it? Here God makes a miracle every day to feed them and they complain they’re getting tired of it!

When you read the Old Testament, it seems that the Israelites were always complaining of one thing or another, but really, we are just as bad sometimes. We have the Holy Eucharist, an infinitely greater miracle to feed our souls every day. Some saints have died from pure joy after receiving Our Lord. We have such a treasure, yet we focus on the little things in our daily lives that don't go just as we would like. We forget that everything happens for a reason;

“All things work together for good for those who love God”

Whenever the Hebrews needed something, God provided for them, but in this case they were just whining, so to correct them, God sent poisonous snakes. Many who were bitten by those snakes died. The people called to Moses to help them. God told Moses, “Make a brazen serpent, and set it up for a sign: whosoever being struck shall look on it shall live.” (Num 21:8)

That brazen serpent is a symbol or type of Our Lord, who was lifted up on the cross so that we might be healed from the effects of sin.
Now we come to a really neat part of history. This is a true story of a talking animal! (Incidentally, it would make a great little play!)

We could call it “Balaam’s Talking Donkey” and the story is found in Numbers chapters 22-23.

While the Israelites were still in the desert, other kings sometimes attacked them, but with God’s help, the Israelites won every battle.
Finally the people of Israel reached the plains of Moab, just across the river Jordan from Jericho. The time had come for them to enter the Promised Land.
King Balac was the king of Moab. He had heard how strong the Israelites were and he was afraid.
King Balac sent for a pagan soothsayer named Balaam to come and curse the Israelites but God spoke to Balaam, warning him not to curse His chosen people.

Balaam sent a message telling King Balac that he could not curse the Israelites, but the king insisted he come to him anyway, so Balaam saddled his little donkey and set out to see the king. On the way, a huge angel with a sword appeared on the road ahead, but only Balaam’s donkey could see it. The donkey was afraid of that angel and she went off into the field to get away. Balaam got angry and began to beat the little donkey, roughly forcing her back onto the road.
Later on, the angel appeared again at a narrow place between two walls. Trying to go around the angel, the donkey squeezed up near one wall and squished Balaam’s foot. Again, Balaam got angry and began to beat the donkey.

A third time the angel appeared. This time there was no place for the donkey to go so she fell down and would not move. Baalam started beating the donkey once more. Then God performed a miracle and the donkey spoke! The donkey said, “Why are you beating me?”. Balaam answered, “Because thou hast deserved it, and hast served me ill” (Num 22:29)

The donkey politely reminded Balaam that she had always been a good donkey. Then God allowed Balaam to see the angel. The angel must have been VERY big and powerful because Balaam fell down and hid his face. The angel informed Balaam that the donkey had saved his life, for if he had come close enough, the angel would have killed him.

Balaam knew he had done wrong by setting off to see the king. He offered to go back home, but the angel told Balaam he could go and see King Balac, only he must be careful not to curse the Israelites.
When Balaam got to the king, 3 times King Balac sent Balaam to curse the Israelites and 3 times Balaam blessed them instead. Each time the king got angry but Balaam just said, “I told you I wouldn't curse them!”

Isn’t that amazing history!

I hope Balaam apologized to the donkey.


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