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 (Manna 11)
Learning from the Ass
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Learning from the Ass

Asses are close cousins of horses. They enjoy less glamour compared to their cousins. However, they have valuable characteristics as recorded in the Bible. Their red-letter day came about when the Lord Jesus rode on one of them into Jerusalem. The Lord had rejected all other animals but chose the ass to take Him into Jerusalem. This incident alone is enough to make us reconsider the position of the ass.

Asses are tame and peaceful animals

Practically all Biblical and historical records of the horses are connected with wars, illustrating the fact that horses are meant for war. “The horse is made ready for the day of battle, ….(Prov 21:31).

On the contrary, mention of the ass is always connected with peace. For instance, Abraham in his bid to please God rode on an ass to Mount Moriah to offer his son Isaac as a burnt offering (Gen 22:15). Moses, obeying the great commission of God to bring the Israelites out of Egypt, mounted on an ass with his family for Egypt to confront Pharaoh (Ex4:20). Besides these, there are other instances mentioned where asses provided a means of transportation. (Jos 15:18 1 Sam 25:20,23,42).

It is known that asses are especially good means of transport on mountainous areas. In Szechwan, China the place is very hilly. The residents depend largely on asses for land transportation. Despite the road condition being rugged they seldom meet with accidents. Credit should go to the good-natured asses which are groomed for easy maneuver.

On one occasion, the Lord Jesus overlooked the horse, mounted on an ass and went to Jerusalem. The Bible recorded it in the following manner, “And when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethpage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘God into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find an ass tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If any one says anything to you, you shall say, THE LORD HAS NEED OF THEM, and he will send them immediately.’ This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,
‘Tell the daughters of Zion,
Behold, your kind is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on an ass.
and on a colt, the foal of an ass.’” (Mt. 2 1:1-10)

The Old Testament passage of the Bible prophesies,

            “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of’ Jerusalem!
Lo, your king comes to you;
triumphant and victorious is he,
humble and riding on an ass,
on a colt the foal of an ass.
I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
and the war horse from Jerusalem;
and the battle how shall be cut off,
and he shall command peace to the nations;
his dominion shall he from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.” (Zec. 9:9-10)

Only the ass, a tame and peaceful animal, is deemed worthy to transport the Prince of peace into Jerusalem. May all of us emulate the characteristics of the ass to be a peaceful, gentle, fruitful believer greatly used by the Lord to preach the gospel of peace.

Faithful and hard working.

Asses are greatly used by men in their daily lives especially in the olden days. When a country went to war, the generals would ride on horses while transportation of food and supplies were done using asses. In some parts of China where the system of communication is backward the people depend largely on asses for communication. The farmers, in particular, use asses to transport their produce to the market. They even use asses to grind their mills. These animals are very faithful and hard working.

When Jacob was in Canaan he met with a severe famine. On hearing that there was food in Egypt he said to his son, “Who do you look at one another? Behold, I have heard that there is grain in Egypt, go down and buy grain for us there, that we may live, and not die.” On their return they used their asses to load the grain they had bought from Egypt (Ex 42:26).

Prophet Isaiah rebuked the Israelites severely because they proved themselves unfaithful to God. He scolded them saving that they were worse than the ox and the ass which were faithful to their masters, “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord has spoken: ‘Sons have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows its owner, and the ass its master’s crib; but Israel does not know, my people does not understand.” (Is 1:2-3).

The Bible records about an ass which once spoke human language. And from the conversation we gather that the animal had been very faithful to its master. The following is the story. “When the ass saw the angel of the Lord, she lay down under Balaam; and Balaam’s anger was kindled, and he struck the ass with his staff. ‘What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?’ And Balaam said to the ass, ‘Because you have made sport of me. I wish I had a sword in my hand, for then I would kill you.’ And the ass said to Balaam, ‘Am I not your ass, upon which you have ridden all our life long to this day? Was I ever accustomed to do so to you?’ And he said, ‘No.” (Num 22:27-30). Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, with the drawn sword in his hand; and he bowed his head and fell on his face. Then only did Balaam realize that he had wronged his ass. Balaam would have been slain by the angel of the Lord if not for his faithful ass. The spirit of the ass is indeed worthy of pursuit by servants of God today. The Bible exhorts, “knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you are serving the Lord Christ.” This is basic knowledge, and every worker should know. It is also the goal that every one should strive after.

Working silently.

It is not wrong to say that asses can contribute much more to mankind than horses can. But generally, horses enjoy better privileges than asses do. In the eyes of man, horses are always welcome, for they look good, bright, proud and happy. On the other hand, asses are often linked with stupidity, clumsiness and disappointment. But asses are faithful animals, always working silently for their masters.

Incidentally the life of man is similar to that of an ass. Some lives are full of silent toils, vet uneventful, others are very successful, enterprising and highly esteemed in terms of status and wealth. Subordinates are often being scolded as silly asses by their superiors. But many of these subordinates are not stupid at all. These so call ‘silly asses’ share common characteristics: they are silent workers; they will not live against their principles; they hold fast to righteousness and will not compromise with injustice; they do not work for fame neither do they flatter others; they will not be enticed by material gain and they will not defect by blackmail but always pressing forward, not neglecting their duty.

Generally people love money and high position. When one is better off than others in his performance and talents he may become puffed up and self-conceited, Even Paul, a highly spiritual apostle was afraid that he might he tempted to become proud because of the abundant grace he had received from God, what more of us? So he often pummeled himself by bringing his body under subjugation; he said, “And to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given in the flesh, a messenger of’ Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated.” (2 Cor 12:7).

After Gideon the judge had delivered Israel from the hands of the Midianites, the Israelites requested Gideon to rule over the Israelites as a show of their gratitude. But Gideon replied, “I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the Lord will rule over you.” His reply sounded very noble. However, Gideon requested the people to make for him an ephod of gold for the remembrance of the battle against the Midianites not knowing that this would bring unto miseries to his family and people. “And Gideon made an ephod of it and put it in his city, in Ophrah; and all Israel played the harlot after it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and to his family.” (Jdg 8:22-27).

In church we must conduct ourselves properly, not working for fame or for other gains, never currying favor nor acting at the expense of our principles. We should guard ourselves from being tempted by material gains and must not falter when facing with threats and blackmail. On the other hand, we should not be haughty even if we have made some achievements in Church, to blow our own trumpets. Instead, emulate the spirit of the ass. Render our service to God not for self-glory but do all things according to His will. We must be sober and serious in our work, to please God and to always press forward in order to accomplish the great commission which God has entrusted to us.

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