Balaam and the Donkey are the Shrek Story of the Old Testament

Balaam and the Donkey are the Shrek Story of the Old Testament

2 Peter 2:10-16 – Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord. But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness. 

If you’ve ever seen the movie Shrek, then you know that the donkey is the most entertaining character. Every time I think of the story of Balaam from Numbers 22 in the Old Testament, I cannot help but think of the prophet as Shrek and the donkey as Eddie Murphy. Peter uses that story to teach an important lesson to Christians who are feeling the pressure from culture to turn their back on God in an effort to be more accepted in the world.

In chapters 1 and 3 of this letter, Peter reminds us that the Bible is true. In chapter 2, he reminds us that there will be great opposition to and pressure on those who persist in believing what God says. The demonic spirits at work behind culture never change, and so we face the same three kinds of pressure that they did:

  1. Pride. The enemies of God’s Word are “bold and willful”.
  2. Public. The enemies of God’s Word don’t hide or reserve their rebelling to the evening, instead they “revel in daytime”.
  3. Profit – The enemies of God’s Word have “hearts trained in greed”. As the old adage goes, sex sells which is why he keeps talking about “eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin” and “sensuality”.

For Christians who have wandered away from God, compromised their convictions, or just plain blown it, there is hope. First, that is the story of Peter who writes this book of Bible after Jesus restored him. Second, there is also the story of Balaam.

Balaam was supposed to be a prophet for God. He was supposed to say what God said and bless those who God blessed. A godless Moabite king who hated God and God’s people sought to turn the prophet into a prophet for hire by offering a hefty profit. As the king kept adding zeroes to the check, eventually he found the price for Balaam’s ministry. If your soul is for sale, the moral of the immoral story is that Satan will keep adding zeroes until he finds your asking price.

So, the prophet Balaam jumps on his donkey and rides out to curse God’s people and prophecy lies. To stop him, Jesus comes down from Heaven as “the angel of the Lord” and stands in the middle of the road with a sword. The prophet did not see Jesus, but the donkey did. In an ironic twist, the donkey is more discerning and aware of God’s presence than the prophet. The donkey veers off course seeking to avoid hitting Jesus, and the prophet gets angry and starts beating the animal. In yet another ironic twist, the prophet is not troubled by his rebellion against God but is greatly troubled by the donkey’s defiance of him. The donkey then turns around and talks aloud, rebukes the prophet. Yes, the prophet is now a false prophet and the donkey is the true prophet. Balaam repents, changes his ways, does not give in to terror or temptation, and is restored to ministry as Peter was.  

Are you currently, or have you ever, rebelled against God and gotten off course? How has God used creative and even comedic ways to correct you or redirect you?

To download the free e-book Power Under Pressure which is a study in 2 Peter for individuals, groups, and families from Pastor Mark click HERE. To listen to Pastor Mark’s 4 sermons on 2 Peter preached in the summer of 2020, visit These and other resources are made possible by our ministry partners who support Real Faith as a Bible teaching ministry of Mark Driscoll Ministries to whom we say THANK YOU! 

Mark Driscoll
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