Balaam’s Donkey

Friends in Christ, we have seen before how Jesus’ coming fulfilled the so-many-hundreds of prophecies of the Old Testament.
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Today we encounter something quite unique. In the first reading from the Book of Numbers, we meet a man named Balaam, who knew nothing of the True God of Israel nor of any Messiah. Yet God uses even this pagan man as a prophet to predict Jesus’ coming.
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During the journey of Israel through the desert, they came to the land of Moab. The King of Moab was afraid of them; he had heard that their God had done miracles, they had passed through the Red Sea, and others – and so he wanted to put a curse on them. For this reason, he called his expert soothsayer and asked him to put a curse against Israel. This seer, or magi, or some kind of astrologer, was named Balaam. Now Balaam had felt that God did not want him to curse Israel, but nevertheless, the King had offered him good money if he did, and so he planned to do it.
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As Balaam was riding on his donkey, his donkey suddenly stopped. ‘What is wrong with you? he said, and he began to beat him, ‘go! go!’ but he would not. Now the donkey would not move because an angel stood in front, blocking the way. The donkey was able to see the angel, but Balaam could not. ‘If I had a sword I would kill you, said Balaam.’ Then suddenly, the donkey talked ! ‘What have I ever done to you Balaam? I have been your good donkey all these years, why do you beat me?’ This is the only case I know of – of a talking donkey!
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Now at that moment, God allowed Balaam to see the angel, and then he repented of his foolish ways. When he arrived to meet the King, despite having been ordered by the king to curse Israel, this pagan man Balaam, made a remarkable prophecy: He predicted that a great leader would come out of Israel, and that a Star will signal his coming.
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This prediction of the Star of Bethlehem was made therefore, not by a religious person, but by a pagan man, Balaam. It was remarkable prophecies such as this and a thousand others, that led the early Christians to conclude that the Messiah had arrived.
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It is also interesting to note, that according to an ancient tradition, the 3 Kings, or astrologers who came to visit the newborn Savior – they knew about the Star; it is said that they knew about it, because they were descendants of Balaam.

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