The Original Old Testament Dr. Dolittle
Do you remember the movie Dr. Dolittle? The original 1967 version with Rex Harrison or the Eddie Murphy version. Although I find Eddie Murphy hilarious, I am always drawn to the 1967 version with the music and world traveling. The recent version was beautiful to watch but I felt Robert Downey Jr. phone his performance in. As a kid, I was always fascinated by the concept of special abilities like talking to animals. I think that is why I am drawn to the story in the Old Testament of Balaam and his donkey.
Let’s do a little history first. Balaam was a prophet of God who was able to bless or curse a nation of people. Quite a gift I think. Balak, the son of the king of Moab sent a message to Balaam offering money to the prophet if he would curse the Jewish nation of people invading his land. Balaam knew it was wrong but he was promised a lot of money. You know what they say, money talks and camel dung walks. Or something like that. Balaam saw the dollar signs and felt he could gently adjust his moral compass and curse the jews.
Balaam loaded up his donkey and he set off along the path of riches and wealth. It reminds me of so many people in this world today. We make slight adjustments to our moral compass in order to make the maximum amount of money. Or we adjust our moral direction to satisfy our own needs irregardless of others. At work we find ways to gain personal time off of the work hours. These are only slight misdirections of what is morally correct. We tell ourselves, “It is only a little lie or a little sin.”
That is exactly where Balaam was as he rode down the road to curse the jews. His donkey suddenly veered of the road until Balaam beat it back to the pathway. Then the donkey crushed Balaams foot against a stone wall and was beaten again. The third time the donkey just lay down. On this occasion as Balaam threatened to kill the beast, the prophet, or rather profit, had his Dr. Dolittle experience. The donkey spoke and while he was speaking God opened Balaam’s eyes to the spiritual realm. He saw an angel in his pathway with his sword drawn. The angel spoke to Balaam and said, “I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me.” That would have straightened me right out and our friend, Balaam, readjusted his moral compass after that.
As a human being, there are many times that I wished an angel had appeared to me to stop me from doing something stupid that could have or nearly did wreck my life. We all carry scares from those old bad choices. Here’s the good news: Jesus took the penalty for our moral misdirection, sin, when he went to the cross. So don’t wait for your dog or cat or goldfish to talk and straighten you out, talk to the Lord and draw closer to him.