“Don’t shoot the messenger!” is usually uttered in self-defense when bringing bad news to a displeased audience. The messenger bearing bad news here was Balaam the sorcerer and King Balak was the displeased audience; Balaam was hired by the king to curse the Israelites – a hiring decision that definitely did not work out in the king’s favor.
Speaking of messengers, the same Old Testament story mentioned above also features a talking donkey delivering a message to its owner Balaam. What is almost comical about this incident is Balaam’s reaction. Donkeys usually don’t talk, but that went right over his head.
Messages are not always spoken, but sometimes delivered by way of action. Angels, human beings and animals have been used for this sacred purpose. Yes – also animals play a part in God’s plan. If that sounds odd to you, below is a list of animal characters that were bearers of a message that came straight from the Lord.
A Talking Donkey (Numbers 22:28): “Then the Lord gave the donkey the ability to speak.”
Obedient Cows (1 Samuel 6:12): “And sure enough, without veering off in other directions, the cows went straight along the road toward Beth-shemesh, lowing as they went.”
A Hungry Fish (Jonah 1:17): “Now the Lord had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights.”
A Messenger Dove (Genesis 8:10-11): “After waiting another seven days, Noah released the dove again. This time the dove returned to him in the evening with a fresh olive leaf in its beak.”
A Tiny Ant (Proverbs 6:6): “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!”
Donkeys, cows, fish, birds and little ants are making a point here. God can use anybody or anything to communicate His message. To this end, Jesus came down on a Pharisee who demanded to silence the jubilant crowd on the day of His triumphant entry into Jerusalem (Luke 19:40):
“[Jesus said] If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!”
Stones can be used for His purposes if God is so inclined. It is a privilege to be His messenger – and with angels, people and representatives of the animal kingdom we are in very good company.