Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand; and he bowed his head and fell flat on his face. (Numbers 22:31)
Once his eyes were opened and he realized what was happening, Balaam became penitent — or so it seemed. He certainly received a strong rebuke, the angel informing him that, were it not for the donkey, the prophet would have been slain. Balaam quickly acknowledges his sin and offers to return “if it displeases you.” That prompts this observation: Balaam knew that his heart was in the wrong place and that he should turn back from what he was intending to do. Nevertheless, the angel instructs him to go with the men and to say, “only the word that I speak to you” (Numbers 22:35).
So for the second time, he is reminded to speak only what God instructs him to speak, meaning that he was warned once again to guard against this evil intention in his heart. It had already come close to costing his life. It might be that, at this point, Balaam is convinced of the hopelessness of attaining his personal goal and obeying God at the same time and that is why he suggested returning home. However at this point, the die was cast — like it or not, he is bound to be God’s messenger and commissioned to bless Israel in spite of his personal desires. In other words, there are times when God determines to use the most unlikely candidates to make His point where His people are concerned.
The lesson we can all learn from this is that it is a risky endeavor when we harden our hearts to God’s Word and Will. Pharaoh hardened his so often that, eventually, God hardened it for him in order to make a point. It appears that the same is true with Balaam and all those who would attempt to play games with the Sovereign of the Universe. Rather than being so hard-hearted and headstrong, as followers of Messiah, we must be people with contrite hearts, humble spirits and the wisdom to tremble at His Word. Those who exhibit these attributes have a promise from the Almighty that He will be near to them and will bless them with His Presence.
Blessings and Shalom,