Balaam was a magician, a false prophet. He was not one of God's chosen people (Israelites), nor was he a believer. He put curses on people for money. He was representing God, but in reality was using the Lord's name in vain. He was pretending to represent the Lord. Any good words that came out of Balaam's mouth were placed there directly by God. Balaam's motivations were not pure. In Numbers 25, we see the Israelites committing sexual sins with the Midianite woman and turning away from God. Numbers 31 reveals this as Balaam's idea to turn the Israelites away from God and cause them to self destruct, since his first strategy to curse them was not successful. (Also see 2 Peter 2:15 and Revelation 2:14)
Balak, the king of Moab, had a problem. The Israelites were being led into the promised land by God and were commanded by God to destroy all of the current residents of that land. They had just finished their task of wiping out the Amorites and the Moabites were next.
The people of Moab were terrified because there were so many Israelites. In fact, Moab was filled with panic because of the people of Israel. Numbers 22:3.
Balak was the king of Moab, at the time. He was going to pay Balaam to put a curse on the Israelites. He asked for Balaam to come meet him. Balaam rode a donkey to go meet Balak. An angel of the Lord appeared to the donkey on his way, 3 times. Each time the donkey saw the angel and tried to turn away. He knew the Lord was against Balak. Each time the donkey turned away, Balaam beat the donkey to try to keep him moving forward. After the third time, the Lord opened the donkey's mouth and he talked to Balaam. It said to Balaam, “What have I done to you? Why did you hit me those three times?” Numbers 22:28.
At that same time, God made Balaam see the angel. It appeared Balaam was repentant, but his heart was still opposed to the Israelites.
Even though Balaam still wanted to curse the Israelites. God would not let him. Instead, he made him bless the Israelites.
The lesson for our children is to teach them that God's plans will not be thwarted. The silly donkey knew better than Balaam to listen to God. The author uses satire to bring about this point. Another key lesson is that God chose the Israelites to be his people. We see throughout the Old Testament that God protected the Israelites and this is one of those stories.
Have you ever seen a talking animal? (Consider using Talking Animals Reinforcement activity)
In our story today, we are going to learn about the second time in the Bible that an animal spoke. Do you remember the first time? (serpent speaking to Adam and Eve)
Bonus points for bringing a live donkey to class...
Read story from a Children's storybook Bible for younger children.
For older children, read story straight from the Bible or tell the story yourself.
Scripture for Kids to Read Aloud Numbers 22:5-6; 22:21-33; 23:7-12
First, ask the children if they have any questions about the story. What to do if you don't know the answer?