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From Eternity Past

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    A Donkey “Sees” More Than a Prophet

    The messengers from Moab, annoyed at Balaam's delay and expecting another refusal, set out on their homeward journey without further consultation. Every excuse for complying with the request of Balak had now been removed. But Balaam was determined to secure the reward. Taking the beast upon which he was accustomed to ride, he set out and pressed eagerly forward, impatient lest he fail to gain the coveted reward.EP 312.1

    But “the angel of the Lord stood in the way for an adversary against him.” The animal saw the divine messenger unperceived by the man and turned aside from the highway into a field. With cruel blows, Balaam brought the beast back into the path. But again, in a narrow place shut in by walls, the angel appeared. The animal, trying to avoid the menacing figure, crushed her master's foot against the wall. Balaam knew not that God was obstructing his path. The man became exasperated, and beating the ass unmercifully, forced it to proceed.EP 312.2

    Again, “in a narrow place, where there was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left,” the angel appeared, and the poor beast, trembling with terror, fell to the earth under its rider. Balaam's rage was unbounded, and with his staff he smote the animal more cruelly than before. God now opened its mouth, and by “the dumb ass speaking with man's voice” He “forbade the madness of the prophet.” 2 Peter 2:16. “What have I done unto thee,” it said, “that thou hast smitten me these three times?”EP 312.3

    Furious, Balaam answered the beast as he would have addressed an intelligent being: “Because thou hast mocked me, I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee.”EP 312.4

    The eyes of Balaam were now opened, and he beheld the angel of God standing with drawn sword ready to slay him. In terror “he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face.” The angel said, “Behold, I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before me: and the ass saw me, and turned from me these three times: unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive.”EP 312.5

    Balaam owed his life to the poor animal he had treated so cruelly. The man who claimed to be a prophet of the Lord was so blinded by covetousness and ambition that he could not discern the angel of God visible to his beast. “The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not.” 2 Corinthians 4:4. How many rush on in forbidden paths, transgressing the divine law, and cannot discern that God and His angels are against them! Like Balaam they are angry at those who would prevent their ruin.EP 313.1

    “A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.” Proverbs 12:10. Few realize as they should the sinfulness of abusing animals or leaving them to suffer from neglect. The animals were created to serve man, but he has no right to cause them pain by harsh treatment.EP 313.2

    He who will abuse animals because he has them in his power is both a coward and a tyrant. Many do not realize that their cruelty will ever be known, because the poor dumb animals cannot reveal it. But could the eyes of these men be opened, they would see an angel of God standing as a witness to testify against them in the courts above. A day is coming when judgment will be pronounced against those who abuse God's creatures.EP 313.3

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