The story you are embarking on is about “Moses”, but a different Moses from the one who probably flashed into your mind. This Moses was not a mighty prophet with a flowing beard and fire in his eyes. This Moses never saw the sea part, or stood before Pharaoh and demanded that God’s people be freed from slavery. For you see … this Moses was a donkey!
Before God sent His only begotten Son to this earth, He had already sent a scraggly little donkey to be there when His Son fulfill His promise to His people. Moses witnessed something much more powerful than just a few waves being blown around by the power of God. He witnessed the Son of God defeating death, and rising again so that God’s people might be forever free!
This is the story of that blessed donkey named “Moses.”
Every story must have a beginning, and we will begin our story with a bird’s eye view of the tiny little nation of Israel some two thousand years ago. The sun is just beginning to color the eastern sky as we sweep over the mighty city of Jerusalem. We can smell the incense and hear the morning prayers of the priests as we pass over the temple mount with its beautiful columns and gates. The city is just beginning to wake up, lamps are lit, and we know that soon the streets will be full, but we can’t tarry, for this is not where our story starts.
Soaring over Jerusalem’s walls, we pass the city gates. The lush vineyards and olive groves below us give way to dust and stones as we travel on. There in the distance we can see the twinkling lamps of the tiny village of Bethlehem, the city of David, but we must not go quite that far in our flight to reach the scene of the beginning of our story.
A tiny dark speck can be seen in the hills below. We begin to spiral down, riding the thermals like an eagle. The tiny speck becomes a scattering of houses gathered into a verysmall town. We can see them now: small, low-built houses with stout, mud-brick walls and flat roofs. In the center is a deep well with steps carved into the earth leading down to the clear waters below. Around the well we can see carts and tables already set up in preparation for the daily market.
Sweeping lower still, we come to rest on the parapet of a particularly small house. As we look across the rooftop, we can see a large family, still asleep on their pallets. Like most people in this dry and thirsty land, they find the rooftop much better for sleeping during the hot seasons than the inner room of their house.
There, nearest the stairs, lies Yosef the father and Martha the mother. Yosef is a simple man, a shepherd, whose love for his family is only surpassed by his love for God. Beside him, just beginning to stir in the pre-dawn light, Martha is already making plans for the family meals and thinking about how many more days it will take to weave a new garment for her husband.
The oldest boy, Jacob, lies next to his father. Jacob’s dreams are filled with visions of the baskets full of fish he hopes to catch and sell at market. Jacob, always sensible, always reliable, works hard each day to finish his tasks on the family’s small farm so that he might go fishing in the hopes that his catch will sell well enough to bring some much needed money into the household. Jacob dreams of the day when he will own his own boat, spending each day filling his nets with fish and building a fine new home for his family.
The youngest boy, Saul, spends his days at his father’s heels, learning to tend the sheep. During lambing time, Saul is there with his father from dawn till dusk, tending to the newborns. Each time the donkeys are loaded with a few bales of wool, Yosef starts down the long trail to the village market with little Saul hot on his heels.
Sarah, the only daughter, and youngest in the family, is already learning to weave and sew. Her days are spent with her mother, and whether it’s taking a trip down to the nearest stream to wash clothes, or fetching water from the cistern, she can always find time to tease her brothers. The sound of Sarah’s singing and the music of her laughter always make her parents smile. Her brothers smile too, even though most times she is laughing at them.
Bullion, so named because as an infant his mother thought he would grow to be strong as a bull and brave as a lion, is the middle son. He lies a bit apart from the rest of the family. If we were to move close enough we would hear him, even now, talking in his sleep, commands issuing from his lips, as he orders his troops to yet another victory.
More than anyone else in the family, Bullion is a dreamer. In his imagination he is a powerful king, with a house full of servants to carry out his wishes. Nearly every day Bullion can be found atop the nearby hill, gazing across the valley at other villages. He pretends that he is king over all he can see. Bullion believes that, if he were the king, he would be a just king, generous in his distribution of the yearly harvest, and powerful in defending his kingdom against intruders. Bullion imagines he will be the greatest king ever to rule, as rich as King Solomon and as loved as King David.
Bullion spends most of his free time with the family donkeys. Even though he loves the donkeys just the way they are, he often pretends that they are beautiful stallions. He can almost feel the wind in his face and hear the pound of their hooves as they charge into battle pulling his imaginary chariot, his sword raised high to slay the oncoming enemy. Just as the lines of warriors close, just as he is about to bring his sword down on a fleeing Roman, the dream fades and he is left staring, not at beautiful warhorses, but just at plain old floppy-eared donkeys. Someday, Bullion believes he will own the beautiful horses and chariot that he dreams about.
Now we have a beginning for our story, and we have met the family with whom our story begins. No, I know we have not met Moses yet, but all in good time. As Solomon said, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.”