surely there is a God who judges on earth."
As Balaam travels to Balak, God gets mad (the anger is unexplained). The angel of the Lord blocks Balaam's path. The donkey reacts by going into a field. Balaam reacts by striking the donkey. The angel prevents the donkey from getting back on the road. Balaam hits the donkey again The third time this happens, Balaam gets really mad. Think about this from the viewpoint of Balaam and of the donkey.
Irony: 1) Balaam has the power of divination but cannot see what a donkey is able to. 2) The donkey has done to Balaam what he himself had done to the royal emissaries--refused to obey. 3) Balaam had said he would do only what the Lord wanted. When the donkey did what God's messenger told him to do, he got beaten.
Zechariah was a priest serving in the temple in Jerusalem, but Jerusalem is ruled by the Roman government and its army. And the army had been there a long time.
Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth had lived a righteous and blameless life, but not one like they would have chosen for they had no children. They had been waiting for a long time. Then the Lord sent a messenger, Gabriel, to Zechariah to tell him that Elizabeth was going to have child.
Zechariah disputed the possibility of getting something that he had longed for so long. Gabriel responded, "Because you didn't believe these words, you are not going to be able to speak until the things I have promised you occur."
The baby is born. Elizabeth wants to name him after his father. Zechariah is allowed once more to speak. Filled with the Holy Spirit, he prophesied that a savior was to come and that a messenger had been sent to announce that news. He expressed gratitude to the Lord that the promises made to Israel were going to be realized, promises of rescue from enemies. Zechariah then reminded them what forgiven, rescued people were supposed to do with their freedom: serve God in every way on every day.
Prayer for Today: Use Zechariah's Benedictus:
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for you have looked favorably on your people and redeemed us.
You have raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of your servant David.
You have spoken through prophets that we would be saved from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us.
You have shown mercy to our ancestors and remembered your holy covenant,
the oath you swore to our ancestor Abraham,
to grant us rescue from our enemies
so that we might serve you without fear
in holiness and righteousness all our days.