Numbers 23: How Can I Curse Whom God Has Not Cursed?

Confession: I like to be right.

I also don’t mind being wrong from time to time and have no problem admitting it when I am. But I really like to be right.

So when something comes along that I may disagree with (like a certain spoken-word video that you have probably seen on facebook) I want to know that what I think about it is what others should think about it as well.

So I search for people who think the same. I wave off criticism of my view. I click on any link from the twitter feed that might feed my desire to be the one who is right.

And it usually leaves me feeling really good about myself; A nice, smug feeling that I was right and they, whoever “they” are, were wrong.

I am beginning to notice that feeling creeping in as I read through the Bible for this blog. The reality is, reading through the Bible and letting it be what it is rather than fitting it into some other paradigm will challenge and confront a lot of our religious and theological frameworks and traditions.

So whenever I can point back to Genesis or Leviticus to push back on a claim I find questionable, I am proud of myself for being able to do so. And invariably I end up think pretty highly of myself and pretty lowly of someone else.

Then I read things like Numbers 23.

I start to feel like Barak, King of Moab, desperately trying to get Balaam to tell him what he wants to hear.

“Curse those people! What am I paying you for! Don’t bless them!”

“Speak out against those people! Don’t you know what they are saying on their blogs and how other people are going to hear it?!”

And then Balaam turns to me and says, “Did I not tell you, ‘Whatever the LORD says, that is what I must do?'”

‘Balak has brought me from Aram,
the king of Moab from the eastern mountains:
“Come, curse Jacob for me;
Come, denounce Israel!”
How can I curse whom God has not cursed?
   How can I denounce those whom the Lord has not denounced?
For from the top of the crags I see him,
from the hills I behold him;
Here is a people living alone,
and not reckoning itself among the nations!
Who can count the dust of Jacob,
or number the dust-cloud of Israel?
Let me die the death of the upright,
   and let my end be like his!’

I cannot curse these people. I cannot because God hasn’t. God has blessed them. And furthermore, I actually want to be like them. They are living a blessed life and I want in.

So don’t be so quick to curse and denounce.

My desire to be right does not trump my call to bless those whom God has blessed. And I am pretty sure he is WAY more generous with his blessing than I am.

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