The first time I saw a donkey up close was in Jordan. I was on my way to see the remnants of a ruined medieval church set on a hill/mountain. As I walked past the donkey tied to a tree by the trail up the hill, it began braying so loud and aggressively at me that I could have sworn that donkey was trying to tell me something. At first I was scared of the donkey, wondering why it was braying so loud and aggressively at me.
This donkey was loud and conversational, like a woman at the local market who just had to gossip about everyone and anyone. I couldn’t but wonder what the hell he was saying. I thought perhaps it’s hungry, and continued walking.
Few seconds later and I realized he was indeed trying to tell me something. There was a giant sinkhole on the trail that led up the mountain. The road was so narrow, you could easily fall in. I looked back at the donkey and wondered if this is what he meant, but he had become so quiet I suddenly felt a strong urge to turn around and go back the way I came. We decided not to go up the mountain to see the church and ended up going to other places to see other ruins.
I have since seen donkeys after this one particular donkey, but they’ve all been quiet donkeys.
1 week ago, I saw a donkey in my dream. This one was a quiet but peculiar donkey. First she stood by a crib/bed waiting for someone to come. When the person came, she lay next to the person, comforted the person and watched the person. As I walked away from watching them, I got the feeling this donkey was me.
I woke up wondering why the donkey had to be me? Then the phrase stubborn as a mule came to mind. I couldn’t tell the difference between a mule and a donkey but the phrase “stubborn as a mule” made sense to me. I can be stubborn when I set my mind to something. The same thing goes for my husband. So why did this donkey (or mule) have to be me?
I thought about Isaiah 1:3
“An ox has known its owner, And a donkey the crib of its master, Israel has not known, My people have not understood.”
No sooner had I started to muse around this question that I started to observe everything that had a donkey in it. I mean, there were (hypothetical) donkeys everywhere. But the one donkey that stood out in all the donkeys, was the Lord’s Donkey!
“As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples,
2: saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me.
3: If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”
4: This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
5: “Say to the Daughter of Zion, `See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'” (Zech 9:9)
6: The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them.
Growing up, I was led to believe donkeys were stupid animals. Ever heard the phrase “Stupid Donkey” “stupid as an ass”, or “Jackass”?
We always think of the donkey as a lowly and servile animal. Only suitable for bearing burden. But in the space of 1 week I’ve come to see the donkey with new eyes. So let me introduce you to Mr Donkey – the original OG. Clever, compassionate, and ultimate burden bearer!
We think of the Horse as Royal and princely but the donkey as lowly and servile. The church even interpretes Jesus’s mounting of the donkey and it’s young as a sign of his humble and gentle personality.
However, the donkey is featured throughout the Torah. From Balaam who struck his donkey for heeding the presence of an angel, to Abraham laddening his donkey with the wood needed to sacrifice his son Isaac, to Joseph’s brothers and their donkeys.
It’s funny the Lord says the kings were not to multiply horses to themselves but he never said anything about multiplying donkeys (Deuteronomy 17:16 “Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again”).
Donkeys have been known to be playful, gentle animals who form faithful bonds and express an eagerness to learn. They are exceptionally intelligent, they have phenomenal memories (they can recall complex routes and recognize animals they haven’t seen for years) and also have a logical, flexible approach to problem-solving.
Discovering that the donkey is actually one of the smartest animals was a shocker to me. I mean, typical of the world to label a smart animal stupid right?
Now we’ve all heard the phrase “Stubborn as a mule”, and if I asked what that means, you probably say it’s because you can’t make a mule do anything it doesn’t want to.
But this trait comes from instinctual intelligence, and not really stubbornness. The mule gets it’s strength from the horse, and it’s intelligence from the donkey. While the horse can be forced to work itself to death, the mule’s intelligent streak tells it to stop working because something is not quite right (instinctual self preservation).
This kind of instinctual intelligence reminds me of Jesus’s words in Matt 10:16 “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves”.
I think of the intelligence of both animals and I can’t help but wonder why we have to be as wise as the serpent?? I mean the donkey is both wise and gentle. But then I realize we haven’t been asked to bare the wolf’s burden. We’ve been invited to carry his burden.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Now Suddenly I understand the need to be the Lord’s Donkey 😊
Jacob spoke prophetically of the messiah when he said in Genesis 49:10-11
“The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor a lawgiver from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes; And to Him shall be the obedience of the people. He ties his donkey to a vine, and the colt of his donkey to the choice vine. He washes his clothes in wine and his robes in the blood of grapes.”