"How shall I curse whom God has not cursed? And how shall I denounce whom the Lord has not denounced?” (Numbers 23:8)
How do you feel when you fail God? More importantly, how does God see His people who often succumb to their own weaknesses? As Christians, does God look upon us cursing us for our sins and failures or does He look upon us with His favor looking to bestow a blessing upon us?
In their journey through the wilderness Israel had settled in the plains of Moab on the east side of the Jordan River across from Jericho (Numbers 22:1). They had defeated Sihon the king of the Amorites and Og the king of Bashan (Numbers 21:21-35). They were ready to enter the Promised Land. However, Balak the king of Moab was very afraid of Israel and had hired Balaam to come and curse Israel so that he might be able to defeat Israel and drive them out of his land (Numbers 22:2-6).
But, as the opening verse above indicates instead of cursing God’s people Balaam blessed them (Numbers 23:8). In fact, later, as Balak again attempts to get Balaam to curse God’s people, notice what God says through Balaam: Referring to God, Balaam says “He has not observed iniquity in Jacob, nor has He seen wickedness in Israel. The Lord his God is with him…” (Numbers 23:21). God says He has not “observed iniquity in Jacob” or “seen wickedness in Israel”.
This is an interesting statement for God to make. In the preceding chapters that Moses records for us in the book of Numbers, we see many failures of Israel (e.g. the evil report of the 12 spies, Numbers 13:26-33; Korah leading a rebellion along with 250 other leaders of Israel against Moses’ and Aaron’s authority from God, Numbers 16:1-40; the people complaining about lack of water and Moses’ failure to glorify God when he disobey God’s command to speak to the rock, Numbers 20:1-13). Why does God, through Balaam, say to Balak, “I have not observed iniquity in Jacob?”
The answer lies in understanding the power of God’s forgiveness and His great desire to bless His people. Although Israel still bore the consequences of their sin and had to continue on their wilderness journey, God had forgiven them. God had great purposes for Israel and He didn’t allow their failures to cause Him not to fulfill those purposes. His desire to fulfill the promises He made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for Israel to inherit the Promised Land and through their descendants to send His Son to save the world (Genesis 12:1-3) was far greater than His disappointment with them regarding their sin. God focuses on His desire to bless us and not to curse us for our weaknesses!
As Christians, this gives us great encouragement. God loves His people. He loves us so much He gave His Son to die for us (John 3:16). Yes, God is disappointed when we stumble and sin. But, He has provided a way for us to be forgiven of our sins as Christians (1 John 1:7-9). After we have repented or our sins, the Lord doesn’t dwell on our failures. He focuses on how to bless us as we continue to walk with Him. The apostle Paul reminds us, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1). I am greatly encouraged to see that God focuses on His desires to bless me and not on how I fall short of His glory by my own sin (Romans 3:23). Today, I will not dwell on my failures, but I will rejoice in God’s desire to bless me!
“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).