The Curses of Man Turned into Blessings by God
Numbers 23:20
Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and he has blessed; and I cannot reverse it.

The principle embodied here is this: that when God hath determined to bless His people, His purposes will be executed even by those whose intent it is only to reverse them. Tills is the solution of all the apparent mysteries and incongruities in the present state of things: and it will apply —

I. TO THE CHURCH OF CHRIST AT LARGE — and, next, to every individual among the people of God. To this Church — that is, this army of the living God, though separated in different divisions, we look, in the interpretation of God's promises, as Balaam looked upon Jacob in his goodly tents, and Israel in his outstretched tabernacle. To these we refer the benediction of the royal psalmist, "They shall prosper that love Thee"; and to these we apply what may be termed the reversed invocation of the text -a curse becoming a blessing — "Behold, I have received commandment to bless; and He hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it." But it is not less needful, though it be less pleasing, to observe how, as in the case of Israel, the most severe and searching probation came upon them — not amidst the perils and privations of the wilderness, but amid the abundance and prosperity of the promised land. So the Church, when the fires of persecution had been extinguished, was, and still continues to be, in danger far more imminent. We must beware, lest those prevail who would openly assault her bulwarks, and attempt her battlements in vain. As to the end, indeed, all is safe, and all is sure; God has determined to bless, and earth and hell cannot reverse it (Isaiah 2:2; Habakkuk 2:14; Philippians 2:10, 11). But it is not the less needful to beware lest, in the meantime, corruption be introduced amongst us from an unsuspected quarter, by intermixture with the enemies of God, while, amidst the rising mists of error, our candlestick burns dimly, if even, through apostasy, it be not removed out of its place. Intercourse with the irreligious and unbelieving, whatever be the pretext, is plainly to be suspected and to be shunned. The blessing of God upon a good cause may be forfeited, and will be nullified, by alliance with wicked men. What else can the crew expect, if they allow themselves to be piloted by traitors, but that they shall strike on a rock suddenly, and go down into the depths of destruction?

II. I proceed, however, to the second, and more practical part of the subject — THE APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLE EMBODIED IN THE TEXT TO EACH INDIVIDUAL BELIEVER. Rightly understood, and closely applied, it is to him a covert from all the storms of life, a shield against the fiery arrows of the wicked one, a very present help in time of trouble. God hath blessed, man cannot reverse it: and, however the world may plot, and however it may appear to the servant of the Most High, there is One who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will. The devices of man may appear to be successful, but it is His counsel only that shall abide. It is very important, however, to keep in mind that, while Scripture develops the purposes of God's will, it does not profess to reveal the processes of God's work. It states a definite and determined end, but it makes no specific mention of the means. "The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me," declares the Psalmist, but how, and by whom, God only knows. "He that hath begun a good work in you," says the apostle, "will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ"; but who can say whether the work will proceed in sunshine or in clouds? Perhaps the latter; not improbably the latter. It is enough for us to know that God is working out a blessing: we must not be cast down, though it come through the channel of a calamity, and with the aspect of a curse. The richest stream of benefit and glory that ever flowed forth to a lost and polluted world was thus opened. How did Christ redeem us from the curse of the law but by being made a curse for us? Many sought to quench God's light by lifting up the Redeemer on the Cross, and they thus imparted to it instrumentally a power which in the end shall draw all men unto Him.

(T. Dale, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and he hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it.

WEB: Behold, I have received a command to bless. He has blessed, and I can't reverse it.

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