Pay No Attention to the Talking Donkey (yeah, right)

There’s a little story in The Book of Numbers about a talking donkey. There’s a prophet named Balaam who is summoned to come place a curse on the Israelites, and the ruler will pay him handsomely to do it. Balaam checks in with God who tells him not to go. The ruler sweetens the pot, Balaam checks in with God who says he can go, but not to place a curse on God’s blessed people, but instead, reveal God’s glory. Balaam decides to go, but his motivation is…well…not so pure. (He likes money.) Here’s what happened…

Numbers 22:21-33

So the next morning Balaam got up, saddled his donkey, and started off with the Moabite officials. But God was angry that Balaam was going [with the wrong motivation], so he sent the angel of the LORD to stand in the road to block his way. As Balaam and two servants were riding along, Balaam’s donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand. The donkey bolted off the road into a field, but Balaam beat it and turned it back onto the road. Then the angel of the LORD stood at a place where the road narrowed between two vineyard walls. When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, it tried to squeeze by and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall. So Balaam beat the donkey again. Then the angel of the LORD moved farther down the road and stood in a place too narrow for the donkey to get by at all. This time when the donkey saw the angel, it lay down under Balaam. In a fit of rage Balaam beat the animal again with his staff. Then the LORD gave the donkey the ability to speak. “What have I done to you that deserves your beating me three times?” it asked Balaam.

“You have made me look like a fool!” Balaam shouted. “If I had a sword with me, I would kill you!”

“But I am the same donkey you have ridden all your life,” the donkey answered. “Have I ever done anything like this before?”

“No,” Balaam admitted. Then the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the roadway with a drawn sword in his hand. Balaam bowed his head and fell face down on the ground before him. “Why did you beat your donkey those three times?” the angel of the LORD demanded. “Look, I have come to block your way because you are stubbornly resisting me. Three times the donkey saw me and shied away; otherwise, I would certainly have killed you by now and spared the donkey.” (NLT2)

Set aside the fact Balaam had a conversation with his donkey. The poorly motivated prophet’s life was spared by this animal. (I wonder if he realized that and treated the donkey better afterward?) Balaam proved his character was wicked and the only thing that saved him was the donkey paying attention.

We hear stories all the time of pets waking a family when a fire breaks out. There are dogs specially trained to “sense” when a person is about to have a seizure. Horses warn humans of snakes. And on and on. Animals often have very different levels of awareness from us. The question is do we take the time to realize it and heed their warnings? Same is true for angels and The Holy Spirit. God uses angels to protect us and The Holy Spirit to guide us all the time, and perhaps He uses other animals as well. The question is are we paying attention to ALL the languages God uses to speak to us?

If your donkey starts talking to you, I’d pay attention. But in the meantime, start with The Bible to tune in to God, and you will be amazed at what He’s revealing to you. It could just save your life…yet again.


Pastor Rusty <><


1. The United Methodist Women’s Rummage Sale is this Saturday, September 18, 9am-3pm. Proceeds benefit local missions. You may contact Sharon Fogleson at 317-941-3383 with any questions.

2. 2or3 Campaign Thank You Celebration Sunday, September 26: YOU are invited to join the fun as we celebrate the success of the 2or3 Campaign following ONE combined worship service at 10am. Lunch will be provided and we’ll enjoy brownies and ice cream. We’ll watch a fun video which demonstrates Matthew 18:20, For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

3. Many have been wondering what is happening in the UMC. Sunday September 26, all attendees of the Old Bethel Congregation are invited to attend a meeting about our denomination. Decisions will be made in the future and we need to know how this will effect Old Bethel. The meeting is at 3pm in the sanctuary. Speakers will be Mike Womack and Jerry Rairdon, who both have knowledge of the details about the UMC. Mike is a member of the General Conference and is also a member of the Mt. Auburn UMC. Jerry is a former pastor of Old Bethel, a current pastor at Noblesville First UMC, and a leader in the Room for All Coalition. All are encouraged to attend. This is only the first of informational meetings.

4. Old Bethel & Partners Food Pantry is incredibly blessed to partner with Meijer on East Washington Street for their Simply Give Campaign. This campaign runs from now until October 2nd. Visit their store and purchase a $10 Simply Give card and Meijer will donate an additional $10. You can also pick up these cards in the lobby of the church. Thank you for continued support of the Old Bethel and Partners Food pantry!

5. We are excited to host our annual Trunk or Treat! Please join us on Sunday October 24, 3-5pm in the parking lot as we greet our neighbors with creatively decorated trunks, lots of candy and our very own Celebration Puppeteers. We need several volunteers who are willing to decorate the trunk of their car and pass out candy. We will provide the candy, you provide the decorated trunk! If you are interested please contact Community Life Minister Arin Schellenberg at or 317-359-9651. We will also start accepting donations of individually wrapped pieces of candy in the month of October.

6. The Intentional Faith Team is VERY excited to invite YOU to a visioning meeting for a new ministry that will focus on fostering new and closer relationships with our neighbors centered around breaking bread together! Jesus was often very deliberate in gathering persons around meals, where walls between us often seem less significant. We're not looking for people to do the work of the ministry (yet), but we want and need YOUR input and ideas to develop this ministry environment. God has plans for this powerful ministry and we want YOU to be a part of it as well as be an eyewitness to what He wants to do! Please join us on Wednesday, September 29th at 6:15 pm for a 45 minute meeting, which will include FOOD! We will meet in Fellowship B & C, and promise we will finish by 7:00 pm! (Did you catch that choir members?) AND we will feed you! As an in-person meeting, there will be plenty of room for distancing. Please come help shape what God is calling us to do in this VERY EXCITING NEW MINISTRY! Please contact Pastor Tonya Davis at with any questions.

7. Looking to get out of the house for a little bit? We still have openings for volunteer receptionist for Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon shifts (12:30-4pm). You can work each week or every other week. OR you might like to be a sub and serve when others are on vacation. Building traffic is slowly increasing and having receptionists to answer the phone is a GREAT help to our administrative staff! Contact Administrative Assistant Lynda Preston at or 317-359-9651, extension 131.

8. Pastor Tonya is bringing this week’s message. There are no sermon notes.

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