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Curses to Blessings

WEEKLY SCRIPTURE READING

Torah Portion: Parashat Chukat/Balak

Shabbat: July 1, 2023 | Tammuz 5, 5783


TODAY’S PRAYER OF AGREEMENT


Priestly Blessing:

“The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26

 

Curses to Blessings | Further thoughts on Parashat Balak


The story of Balaam took place "out of view" of the Israelites, which teaches us that the LORD our God is always at work - even among our enemies - for our blessing and ultimate good... No weapon formed against God's people shall prosper, and every tongue that speaks in judgment shall be made to stammer out praise. "He who vindicates us is near; who will contend with us?" Indeed, "who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Yeshua the Messiah is the one who died -- more than that, who was raised -- who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us" (Rom. 8:33-34). Those of faith understand history - including the End of Days - as the expression of God's sovereign and providential hand. The gracious Savior always works "all things together for the good" of those who are trusting in Him.


God can turn curses into blessings... For example, Joseph was blessed despite the ill-will of his brothers: "You devised evil against me, but God devised it for good" (Gen. 50:20). Note that the same verb for "devised" (i.e., chashav: חשׁב) is used to describe both the evil intent of the brothers and the good intent of the Lord. This teaches us that God overrules the malice of men to effect his own good purposes, and therefore we can rightfully affirm gam zu l'tovah (גַּם זוּ לְטוֹבָה), "this too is for good" (Rom. 8:28). Underlying the surface appearance of life (chayei sha'ah) is a deeper reality (chayei olam) that is ultimately real, abiding, and designed for God's redemptive love to be fully expressed. Resist the temptation, therefore, to judge by mere appearances. Forbid your troubles to darken the eye of faith. Do not unjustly judge God's purposes or try to understand His ways. As the story of Balaam shows, God makes even the wrath of man praise Him (Psalm 76:10). "Then God opened Balaam's eyes, and he saw the Angel of the LORD (מַלְאַךְ יְהוָה) standing in the way, with his drawn sword in his hand. And he bowed down..." (Num. 22:31). Indeed, every knee will bow to the LORD our God and Savior (Isa. 45:22-23; Phil. 2:10-11).


פְּנוּ־אֵלַי וְהִוָּשְׁעוּ כָּל־אַפְסֵי־אָרֶץכִּי אֲנִי־אֵל וְאֵין עוֹדבִּי נִשְׁבַּעְתִּי יָצָא מִפִּי צְדָקָהדָּבָר וְלא יָשׁוּבכִּי־לִי תִּכְרַע כָּל־בֶּרֶךְ תִּשָּׁבַע כָּל־לָשׁוֹן

pe·noo- e·lai · ve·hee·va·she·oo kol-af·sei·a'·retz

kee · a·nee-el ve·ein · ohd

bee · neesh·ba·tee ya·tza · mee·pee · tze·da·kah

da·var · ve·lo · ya·shoov

kee·lee · teekh·ra kol-be'·rekh · tee·sha·va · kol-la·shon

"Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth!

For I am God, and there is no other.

By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness

a word that shall not return:

"To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance"





We find comfort that the schemes of the wicked are subject to the sovereign purposes of the LORD our God. Ein od milvado (אֵין עוֹד מִלְבַדּו) - there is no power that can be exercised apart from God's consent and overarching will... Indeed all authority on heaven and earth belongs to Yeshua, the "the Ruler of the Kings of the earth" (עֶלְיוֹן לְמַלְכֵי־אָרֶץ). As it is written, "All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name"






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