No Ammonite or Moabite or any of his descendants may enter the assembly of the LORD, even down to the tenth generation. For they did not come to meet you with bread and water on your way when you came out of Egypt, and they hired Balaam son of Beor from Pethor in Aram Naharaim to pronounce a curse on you. However, the LORD your God would not listen to Balaam but turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the LORD your God loves you. Deuteronomy 23.3-5.
Balaam was a soothsayer who lived in Pethor on the banks of the Euphrates (Joshua 13.22; Numbers 22.5) and when Balak of Moab decided to do battle with the Israelites entering his territory instead of welcoming them, he sent for Balaam and was prepared to pay him handsomely to put a curse on the Israelites so that they would be defeated at his hands. But each time Balaam prepared to curse Israel only blessings came out of his mouth. (Numbers 22-24).
In todays verses, we have the explanation: God “turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the LORD your God loves you”. It is a truth that shines out again and again in Scripture. In my post of two days ago, A Lucky Fellow, I was reflecting on how “the Lord was with Joseph and he prospered” (Genesis 39.2) … but that didn’t alter the fact that his prospering was the result of his being sold as a slave into Egypt by his brothers (Genesis 37.17-28) and neither did it prevent Joseph going through more times of such adversity that it seemed that God had completely abandoned him (Genesis 39-41). Yet when Joseph’s brothers are finally reunited with him and fearing retribution for what they once did to him, Joseph tells them not to fear. “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50.20). The brothers’ “curse” had become a “blessing” because the Lord loves Joseph.
Paul says that that will be true for me too, throughout my life: “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8.28). It is a verse from which I have drawn great comfort through many dark days in the past, and will continue to do so, no doubt, before I go to be with Christ; for it is of course implicit in the verse that Christians are no more exempt from tragedy, tribulation, difficulties and disaster than anyone else in the world. It is simply that, for the Christian, God immediately enters the situation that seems so terrible and so unfair and that has us asking “Why does God allow it?”, and begins to turn it to good. Martin Luther said: “The Spirit makes all things, even though they are evil, work together for good”. The Greek is literally “all things work together for good” and “work together” is the verb synergeo … This is the thought I will take with me into today — that there is constantly a divine synergy at work in my life to turn even “curses” into “blessings” and to make everything end up being for my good. Why? Because the Lord loves me.
Lord, I don’t want anything “bad” to happen to me today, but if it does, help me to hold fast to the truth that you are in it, turning it to “good”. Amen.