Let all those who hate Zion be put to shame and turned back.
Let them be as grass on the housetops, which withers before it grows up,
with which the reaper does not fill his hand, nor he who binds sheaves, his arms.
Neither let those who pass by them say,
“The blessing of the LORD be upon you; We bless you in the name of the LORD!”
This set of verses stirred me as we talked about the story of the prophet Balaam last Tuesday. He was paid by a ruler who felt threatened by the presence of the wandering Israelites, to speak curses over them – like a spiritual hitman of sorts. What I remember of the story, though, is that when Balaam got into his thing, setting up altars and getting into a trance, instead of speaking out these curses, he instead spoke blessings over the nation as he saw them all from a high place. Somewhere in the story a talking donkey was involved. I’m not sure how that factored into all this.
Anyway. I saw the verses mentioned above, and I couldn’t help but share them in the light of what we learned about Balaam. Indeed, he was put to shame. He was paid to do one thing and ended up doing the complete opposite. I believe they tried more than once, and each time, they turned back – not only did they not achieve what they sought out to do, but they ended up helping their enemy.
They were “as grass on the housetops”, withering before even having the chance to grow – that is to say, not having any chance at all even before starting. No wonder they aren’t even worth picking up. And while I’m encoding all this from the notebook, I realized – why would the reaper or ‘he who binds sheaves’ even bother? With the harvest clearly seen in seeds planted in the right places, would they even consider climbing to the top of the house, only to gather half-grown seeds? It just goes to show how if seeds are in the wrong location to begin with, then they have absolutely no chance of being of any worth!
But in spite of all this already being so revealing I obviously couldn’t pass the opportunity of seeing the last verse. It tells me, not only were Balaam and his associates allowed to curse the people of Israel, but anyone who saw them also weren’t allowed to speak any blessing to them either. Imagine not being able to help, nor being able to receive help.
What a situation to be in! Not only was Balaam ashamed, but he was set up for failure, withering even before starting!
Friends, again, I believe we’re brought to see out state before we even had any trace of Christ moving in our lives. We had just as much shame as Adam and Eve had immediately after their first bite into the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil. It became our default state, and as we have been shamed, so we also shame, and bash, and hate on others. We’ve been brought into such an absolute sense of insecurity, a condemnation that would have us condemn others.
Romans 5:19 says that by one man’s disobedience, we have been made sinners. Do you see that? Adam disobeyed once, and the rest of humanity that followed was therefore thrown into chaos, thrown into sin and death and fear so prominent and so infused into us… that we were literally dead before we were even born. In fact, the moment we began to live, being born in this world, we also began to die.
But see here, another perspective of the grace of God for us! Grace and Truth came through Jesus Christ. Praise God! The second half of Romans 5:19 says that by His obedience, many would be made righteous!
What does it mean to be saved? It means to be declared righteous by Christ. And what does it mean to be declared righteous? Well, look at the opposite of what happened to Balaam! For once we were in shame, but now because of Christ we have been held in esteem. I’ve had to look at the thesaurus – Once we would be ashamed, but I believe that as we continue to take in the goodness of God, meditating on Christ and His finished work, we would be made calm. Instead of being ashamed, God has made us glad. As the song goes, we rejoice for He has made us glad, and not only glad, but happy! Joyful! Bold and defiant to the sin and death and fear that once kept us in bondage!
What does it mean to be righteous? Look at the opposite of what happened to Balaam! For once we were withered and hopeless, but now we have been raised – We like to sing the song, ‘With His blood, He has saved me, and with His power, He has raised me‘; To be righteous is to be raised, and what does it mean to be raised? We know a good deal about Jeremiah 29:11, but let’s look at Psalm 29:11:
The Lord will give strength to His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace.
Friends, instead of being withered, and instead of being hopeless, God has fulfilled His promise to give us strength and peace. How? Why, through Jesus Christ! He Himself is powerful – He is the King of Kings! And we can now have hope, for He is the Prince of Peace!
We may have all sorts of troubles that would test our entire beings in this world, but let us take heart. For indeed, we have been raised. We have been made righteous. We have been saved. No longer are we ashamed, nor are we withered, nor are we hopeless – For Christ has paid a great price, that we would have joy beyond words, peace beyond understanding, and everlasting life.
The curses spoken against you are nothing compared to the infinite blessings you have in Christ. And friends, as I have been blessed, so I share this blessing to you. As a good friend of mine keeps saying, pay it forward. You bless as you have been blessed as well.
Bless, like our media man John Mark has blessed. I want to share his testimony in closing:
“Whenever we cryout of anything that we are experiencing and shout whatever we are bearing, we know that God has been good and is good today, yesterday and tommorow. This was made concrete and permanent by Jesus Christ’s sacrifice which is his finished work. It is the biggest answer of God, for us to claim a great life . It is God’s desire for us to have an extraordinary life on earth that through this that people may see in our lives the goodness of God, and by this we can shine as light to this world.We can also intentionally shine as light by being ready and confident to celebrate Jesus in our life by openly testifying how great God is in our individual/personal life. By testifying we are also filling our role as the salt of the Earth by continuing to spread the better taste of life to other people and like the salt we preserve the gospel of the finished work of Jesus Christ.”
God bless us all.