Numbers 22, 23
Sunday School Menu
The NV ULC Board of Directors has granted permission for members of our congregation to make copies of, and use this lesson.
A long time ago, after the children of Israel had left Egypt, there lived a king of the enemies of Israel, the Moabites. His name was Balak. He was very wise and strong and was king of the land of Moab.
The people of Moab were very afraid of the children of Israel, and they wanted the king to go to war and protect them from the Israelites. Balak decided to send messengers to the land of Midian where Moses used to live to see where the children of Israel got their source of power. They did not know about Israel's God. The wise men of Midian told the the messengers that Moses called on God for help in times of trouble. Balak decided to find a man that was as strong and powerful as Moses to fight the Israelites. He wanted to curse them.
So, Balak sent for the most powerful magician in the land; a man named Balaam.
Balak sends his noblemen to Balaam with a job offer- if Balaam will curse the children of Israel, Balak will pay him lots of money, throw a party in his honor, and give him all the magical supplies he could ever want.
Balaam says, "I will take the job for free, but I can only do the job if the God of the Israelites says I can curse them." He invites the noblemen to spend the night, while he waits on an answer from God.
When the noblemen awaken the next day, they get the bad news. God said "No, you may not curse the children of Israel, for they are blessed by me."
The noblemen return to Moab and give Balak the bad news. He says to his noblemen, "I see. Well, perhaps all Balaak needs is some more money. I will send my princes back with an offer of more money!"
When the new delegation arrives at Balaam's door, he greets them and invites them to spend the night again. He waits to see if God will change His mind. After all, that IS a lot of money to turn down. God specifically tells Balaam that he is forbidden to curse the children of Israel. But, Balaam decides to go anyway.
The next morning Balaam packs up his donkey and sets out with the princes on the path toward Moab. This makes God very angry and He sends an angel to stop Balaam from making a huge mistake. When they approach a narrow place on the path with a stone wall on either side, the angel of the Lord stands on the path, blocking the donkey's way with a fiery sword. The donkey stops dead in his tracks and refuses to move. Balaam cannot see the angel, and he gets angry with the donkey. He beats the donkey with a stick. The donkey tries to move to avoid being hit. The donkey ends up mashing Balaam's foot against the wall. Balaam beats the donkey again. The donkey tries to move again, but the Angel of the Lord stops him again. This time, the donkey lies down. Balaam, in a fit of anger, beats the donkey severely.
All at once, the donkey spoke! He said, "Why are you beating me? What have I done to you?"
Balaam said, "You have mocked me! If I had a sword in my hand right now, I'd have already killed you!"
The donkey said, "Balaam, in all the time that I have been your donkey, have I ever refused to do anything you've asked of me?" Balaam looked at the donkey in dismay and said, "No."
Just then, God opened Balaam's eyes and he saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the path with his sword drawn. Balaam bowed his head and fell to his knees.
The Angel of the Lord then spoke to Balaam, "Balaam, why did you strike your donkey three times? I was sent from God to stop you from making a huge mistake. If God had given me permission, I would've killed you and kept the donkey alive!"
Balaam felt very badly. He said to the angel, "I am so sorry. Please forgive me. I'll go back home now if you want me to."
The angel said, "No, you will go with the princes. But, you must only speak what I tell you to speak." Balaam agrees, and off they go to Moab.
When Balak sees Balaam coming, he sets out to greet him. Balaam warns Balak that he may only speak what God tells him to.
Balak sends Balaam out to create 7 altars and offer up bulls and rams on each altar as a sacrifice to this new God. Balaam goes up the mountain to see if God will accept the sacrifice and give him a word with which to curse the children of Israel. God gives Balaam a word, and sends him back to Balak.
Balaam speaks a blessing to Israel instead of a curse!
When he finishes speaking, Balak is furious! Balak says, "I sent you to curse them and instead you bless them? Why couldn't you just keep your mouth shut?"
Balaam says, "I warned you that I can only speak what God tells me to."
But, Balak wasn't willing to give up. He said, "Come here to another spot and try again. Maybe God will change His mind."
So, Balaam did the same thing all over again. He built seven new altars and sacrificed bulls and rams on them to God. He then went by himself to the mountain again and asked God what to say.
He came down the mountain and Balak asked, "Well? What did God say?"
Balaam said, "God says, Balak, I am God. When I say something, I mean it. All of my promises are good."
Balaam then proceeds to bless Israel again twice more by saying, "How lovely are your tents, Oh Jacob! Your dwelling places, Oh Israel!" He blesses the children of Israel four times in all and prophecies that a future king (King David) will destroy Moab.
Balak realized he could not fight God. He packed up his things and went home. Balaam mounted his donkey, the hero who saved his life, and went home.
More About Donkeys
Did you know...
Donkeys have been around for more than 4,000 years and can live up to 40 years. They come in all kinds of colors from gray to brown. Some donkeys have markings on their backs that look like a cross.
In the Bible:
Samson killed a thousand men with the jawbone of a donkey.
What did the donkey teach Balaam about God? How to be obedient To trust in your faithful friends
What can donkeys teach us?
How does this story show God's love for us? God protects His people and blesses them. God keeps his promises to bless us and keep us safe.
My favorite animal: Have each child draw his/her favorite animal and what they would say to us if they could speak our language. What can they teach us about God?
Play "pin the words" on the donkey: use a standard pin the tail on the donkey game and have the students write their own words out to pin on the donkey instead.
Have each child create his or her own donkey (see cutouts below) and write about what the donkey taught him/her today.
Memory verse: "How lovely are your tents, oh Jacob; your dwelling places oh Israel!" Numbers 24:5
Donkey Cutouts for Printing
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