In his writings, Luther referred repeatedly to the story of the prophet Balaam and his donkey or ass in order to stress that God can speak through the most humble and insignificant of people whom the world views with contempt, and in ways that are entirely contrary to what people would expect from a God of unsurpassable power and glory who reigns supreme over all. Instead, he insisted that any who spoke in conformity with the gospel, including not only himself but others as well, were to be heard rather than despised, though of course he consistently maintained that it was necessary for all believers to judge for themselves as to whether or not the word spoken was actually that of God. For this reason, he felt it was vital for people to be able to read Scripture in their own language. When the children of Israel had departed from Egypt and came into the land of the Moabites, King Balak sent messengers to a prophet in Syria, named Balaam, and asked him to come and curse the Jewish people, in order that they might become weak and he could defeat them. Then God came to Balaam and forbade him to curse the people.
Balaam’s Talking Ass
Balaam - Wikipedia
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Luther on Balaam’s Ass
But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbade the madness of the prophet. Numbers And God's anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him…. Ecclesiastes I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things , and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness:. Ecclesiastes This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.
God, who is not too keen on cursing Israel, stations an angel to block his journey. The first time, the angel appears with a drawn sword. The animal, intelligently, swerves off the path; Balaam whacks her. Whereupon—here it comes—the she-ass turns to Balaam and speaks[! What have I done to you that you should whack me like this three times?