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“Then the Lord gave the donkey the ability to speak.” Probably one of the most remarkable lines in the Old Testament but proof, if any were needed, that God will use his power in any way he pleases in order to attract our attention. It is also evidence of his mercy for he first sent an angel which only the donkey could see, to prevent Balaam entering further into sin. Because the donkey saw, Balaam was saved from destruction and was sure to obey God’s word when he reached King Balak.

By contrast, in the New Testament, Zechariah the High Priest is mute, unable to utter a single syllable because of his lack of faith. When John is born and Zechariah confirms his name in writing, he is able to speak again.

Being filled with the Holy Spirit, his first action on regaining his voice and upon recognising God’s great gift to the people of Israel was to praise the Lord for all his good works.

The Spirit led him to prophesy that the Lord had sent a ‘mighty Saviour’ and that his own son would be called ‘the prophet of the Most High’ whose role would be to prepare the way.

These passages show us that God speaks to and often through all of us in different ways. Moses heard the voice of God in his encounters, Balaam heard the truth through a donkey and Zechariah heard through the silence of his heart.

In order to hear God speaking in our lives, we need to learn to listen carefully in each situation, to others, to our own inner self and then to ponder in silence.

Scripture: Numbers 22:21-23:30; Luke 1:57-80; Psalm 58:1-11; Proverbs 11:12-13.