Friday, 23 July 2010

Bless or curse the nations

In Numbers 23:25-24:9, Balaam makes a second prophetic blessing of Israel. In making the prophesy, Balaam describes himself as a person who sees the Lord and hears His words. Riggans (1983) in his commentary says “How glorious if we in Christ's Church could when needed block out all else and see only him and hear only his words!” (p 183). Why only when needed? There is a sense in which we need to learn to walk daily with our eyes open to see Christ and ears attentive to his words. It is when we think that we don't need his words that we blunder forward and lose direction.

However, this passage has a stronger prophecy with respect to the future blessing of Israel and of her blessing the nations. Riggans seems to interpret this not as a blessing but as domination of the nations. The idea of ruling over nations doesn't need to be seen as warlike. Maybe this is looked for because of the context. Certainly, those who rise up against God's people will not stand but those who seek to know God and to live in harmony with his people will be blessed.

If Israel had focussed on the future blessing rather than the defeat of those around her, I wonder what the situation would be today? When we go out among the people, we can see them as our enemies to be smashed before us or we can see them as people God wants to bless through us. If we see them as people God wants to bless then we will seek to reach out to them with God's love and blessing.

Reference:

Riggans, W. (1983). Numbers. Edinburgh: The Saint Andrew Press.

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