Balaam, his donkey, and Apostolic pneumatology

Balaam and his donkey

Today I completed an examination of each use of the phrase “the Spirit of God” in the Pentateuch. The last of these was the story of Balaam in Numbers. I have always been astounded not just by a talking donkey, but also by the fact that Balaam carried on a conversation with the donkey without any indication that he thought it was odd to do so!

But for the purposes of this project, how could it be that the Spirit of God would come upon a “prophet” who charged a “diviner’s fee” (Numbers 22:7) and who ordinarily resorted to sorcery (Numbers 24:1)? How could it be that Balaam, who later led Israel to trespass against the Lord (Numbers 31:1), could utter such majestic messianic prophecies?

One insight from this account is that when the Spirit of God comes upon someone, it is no indication of God’s approval of that person’s lifestyle or theology, even though this event can result in the divine purpose being accomplished.

The reason I am posting these reports and observations on this writing project is to keep a kind of diary on my progress. My blog is set up to share posts on Twitter, so if this is interesting to you, I’m glad.

Keep in mind that this is a work in progress, and I may revise anything as I go along.