Numbers 22:20 And God came unto Balaam at night, and said unto him, If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them; but yet the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do.
Numbers 21 And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab.
22And God's anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him.
23And the ass saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field: and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her into the way.
24But the angel of the LORD stood in a path of the vineyards, a wall being on this side, and a wall on that side.
25And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she thrust herself unto the wall, and crushed Balaam's foot against the wall: and he smote her again.
26And the angel of the LORD went further, and stood in a narrow place, where was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left.
27And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam's anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff.
28And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?
29And Balaam said unto the ass, Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee.
30And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee? and he said, Nay.
31Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face.
Now look at that example: even though the Angel of the Lord was INVISIBLE to Balaam, his donkey SAW, and was either afraid or trying to protect Balaam from harm. Either way, the DONKEY saw and recognised the Angel, where the MAN did not. Three times the donkey saw where the man did not! Animals aren't stupid, you know. Now, that was only an Angel; what about the perfect Son of God Himself? I am convinced every single animal in the stable that blessed night knew the Gift to the world their eyes were beholding... right down to the mice in the walls.
Think of the way a dog responds to his master's voice; then consider John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: Yes, the 'sheep' here are the Lord's people, but the response is the same--alert, and immediately gladly obedient. All domesticated animals have a level of this obedience within them. A horse, a pony, or a donkey, letting their charge ride, or carrying burdens; a cow, standing and allowing herself to be milked, an ox, plodding along hour after hour, pulling a heavy burden; an elephant, acting as nature's all-terrain forklift, logging in the jungle... the list goes on. And wilder animals can be domesticated and show the same loyalty to their master; for instance you can't get a more loyal and fierce watchdog than a wolf.
Animals recognise and respond to their master's voice (think of the old RCA ad) the same way we, as mankind SHOULD recognise and respond to OUR Master's voice.
Yes, the animals in the Nativity scene knew Who was laying there in the manger--the holy, infant Son of God Himself, come to save the world, even if humanity by and large YET doesn't know. By their humility, they shrugged off ignorance.
If only all of mankind were so wise and so seeing and so obedient as animals, instead of so foolish and so blind and so defiant!
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for coming to save mankind from our 'wisdom' and 'enlightenment' and 'liberty'!