How can a story of such diverse characters teach us about wartime tactics? Read the summary below, and then marinade in the “Application” section about blessings and curses. (For the complete story, read Numbers 22-24.)
King Balak of Moab: Terrified of the numerous Israelites as they journeyed through the wilderness. The king feared how God gave them victory over their enemies.
Balaam: A sorcerer who made his money by divination. He was widely known for his effective curses and blessings. Though he was not one of God’s chosen people, he was willing to acknowledge that Yahweh was a powerful God. However, he did not believe Yahweh was the only true God.
Donkey: Belonged to Balaam.
Angel: The angel of the Lord.
Plot : Blessings vs. Curses
Because of King Balak’s fear of the Israelites, he offered to pay Balaam to speak a curse over the Israelites, saying, “Perhaps then I will be able to fight them and drive them away.”
As Balaam was making his way to Moab on the backside of a donkey, an angel of the Lord stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam did not see the angel, but the donkey did. When the donkey saw the angel standing in the road with a drawn sword, she turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat the donkey to get her back on the road. Again, the angel of the Lord stood in their path, so the donkey pressed against the wall alongside the pathway, crushing Balaam’s foot. So, he beat the donkey again. The third time, as the angel of the Lord stood in the pathway, the donkey lay down under Balaam, and he again beat the donkey.
“Then the angel of the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth and she spoke, ‘What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?’” Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn. Balaam bowed low and fell facedown.
The angel of the Lord told Balaam, ‘Go to Balak but only speak the words the Lord places in your mouth to speak.’ Though Balaam was paid to curse Israel, the Lord would not allow him to speak curses over His people. Rather, the Lord put words of blessing in Balaam’s mouth. Balak tried three times to manipulate Balaam to bring forth a curse. But God … He filled Balaam’s mouth with blessings, again and again. And the Lord delivered the Israelites out of the hand of Balak.
Moral to the Story
Balaam’s words could not be spoken in a way that brought a curse to Israel. Each time he tried, he could only speak what the Lord told him to speak. Why? Because the Israelites were God’s children, and God would not allow evil to be spoken over them. God intervened in every attempt of Balak and Balaam to curse His chosen people.
Noodle on that. Apply that. As believers, we are God’s children. When we follow His ways and walk in obedience to Him, we come into alignment with Him. When evil words are spoken against us, when others try to curse us, the blood of Jesus covers us. “No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the Lord. Isaiah 54:17
The Blessings of Obedience
We walk in the blessings of obedience. So, the curses shouted against us have no impact, success, or influence over us – unless we allow them to come through our protective covering of the blood and grace of Jesus Christ. God intervenes and strikes down the words meant to bring harm and He sends them back where they came from. It’s part of being under God’s protective wing, under His provision of promise. “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
Scripture says what we sow, we will reap. When we sow blessings, we reap blessings. If we sow words of encouragement, we reap a harvest of encouragement. Read Deuteronomy 281-14 to better understand the blessings of walking in obedience. These blessings are showered in abundance over you and over your inheritance – the generations that come after you.
The Curses of Disobedience
When we walk in disobedience to God’s ways, we sow curses into our own lives and into those who come after us – our generations and our inheritance. If we sow hatred, we reap hatred. As we sow greed, our lives are stricken with poverty in many areas. God’s protection does not cover the circumstances in our lives when we walk in opposition to His ways. Read Deuteronomy 28:15-68
Battling in God’s Way
In this time of so many unknowns, there are also many knowns. The Lord honors those who honor Him. The Lord blesses those who obey Him. He repays good for good and evil for evil. Our Father blesses those who bless others.
Let’s use our power of words, the power of blessings, to make our world a better place. Battle in God’s way – with blessings rather than curses. After all, when you pray this blessing over someone, in the spiritual realm, you are asking God to bring them to repentance so they may know Him, to bring them to a place of obedience so they may follow Him, and to bless them so their generations who come after them will bring love and peace to the earth long after we are gone.
There are many times in life when we want to curse those who curse us or hurt us. We want to repay evil for evil, or we want to seek revenge and justice rather than allow God to work it. Scripture tells us that, as believers, we are different from those who do not walk in God’s ways. Scripture teaches:
- Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Romans 12:14, 17
- When we are cursed, we bless. I Corinthians 4:12
It is easy to bless those whom we love. But how and why do we bless those who curse us? To answer, let’s look at the Priestly Blessing found in Numbers 6:
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you
And be gracious to you;
The Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.”
What does this Mean?
In praying this blessing upon others, we are asking that they come to a place and time of repentance, a time of humbling and turning to God to seek and receive His forgiveness. We are asking God to give them a heart of obedience toward Him so they may walk in His ways. Blessing someone who has cursed us is a great act of love and a great demonstration of the power of Christ within us. The power that will change the world – person by person.
Are you aware that our greatest weapon in battle is love? Evil has no weapon to destroy love. It may destroy the person who demonstrates that love, but it cannot destroy the work of love. Love survives, love wins – every time.
Jesus tells us, “Love your enemies; do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Lend to them without expecting to get anything back. The reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” Luke 6:27-28, 35
It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory; it was you right hand, your arm, and the light of your face, for you loved them. Psalm 44:3