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The Curse that God Reversed
By Ben Godwin
“And God said to Balaam, you shall not go with them; you shall not curse the people, for they are blessed” (Numbers 22:12). Obviously, our enemy wants to curse us, but God intends to bless us! Balaam learned the hard way that you can’t curse what God has blessed. It will roll off like water off a duck’s back.
When Balak, the King of Moab, heard how the Israelites defeated the Amorites, he feared he was next on their hit list. So he hired Balaam, a soothsayer from Pethor in Mesopotamia, to come and curse them. Pethor was a hotbed of oriental magic, a region famous for soothsayers. Balaam was later slain for his corruption and his ties to the Midianites, enemies of Israel (Numbers 31:8, 16, Joshua 13:22).
Balaam was a curious mixture of good and evil, part sheep and part wolf. Herbert Lockyer wrote, “Balaam had a head full of light but a heart that was dark, and great was the darkness.” Another commentator suggests, “As Judas was among the apostles, so Balaam was among the prophets, a true seer but a bad man.” In short, he was a false prophet whom God strangely used to prophesy some amazingly true things about Israel.
Three times Balak promised Balaam gold and glory in exchange for cursing Israel, but each time God gave him remarkable words of blessing over them instead. Initially, God told him not to go, but greedy Balaam stubbornly persisted. If you don’t think there is comedy in the Bible, read the account of Balaam’s talking donkey—or as I call it, the fool and his mule. When his donkey saw an angel with a drawn sword blocking the path, she went berserk and crushed Balaam’s foot against a wall. Terror stricken, she eventually sat down and wouldn’t budge. Balaam beat her with his staff until he saw the angel too, then he fell on his face in repentance.
Incredibly, God used this crooked psychic to pronounce several lofty prophecies. For instance, he predicted Israel would rise up like an invincible, young lion (Numbers 23:24). As long as Israel was true to their covenant with God, they were unbeatable. No enemy could stand against them and win. This prophecy, while spoken over Israel, can apply to us as well. As long as we remain faithful to God, “No weapon formed against [us] can prosper” (Isaiah 54:17). “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). God has called the righteous to be as “bold as a lion” and to imitate the lion-like nature of Christ—the Lion of the tribe of Judah.
Balaam further said of Israel, “He bows down, he lies down as a lion; and as a lion, who shall rouse him? Blessed is he who blesses you, and cursed is he who curses you” (Numbers 24:9). You’ve heard the slogan, “Don’t mess with Texas!” Balaam was warning the enemy, “Don’t mess with Israel. If you pick a fight with God’s people, you’re picking a fight with God—a fight you will lose.” Balaam even went on to predict the coming of the Messiah, “A Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel….” (Numbers 24:17) Every time he opened his mouth to pronounce a curse, God reversed it, and it came out a blessing.
Unable to curse Israel, Balaam tried another strategy as his dark side reared its ugly head. The Moabites were known as “the people of Chemosh,” a pagan idol to which child sacrifice was offered, and they used perverse sexual practices in their worship. So Balaam counseled Balak to entice the Israelites into immorality and idolatry, knowing this behavior would grieve God and cause them to bring a curse on themselves (Numbers 25:1-3; 31:16). Incidentally, Balaam’s name means “devourer or destroyer of the people”—a fitting description of this devious man’s deeds.
For those who think Balaam and his animated donkey is just an ancient fable, notice he is mentioned as a literal person three times in the New Testament by three different authors, all of whom condemned his actions:
1. Peter called him a false teacher by saying, “They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man’s voice restrained the madness of the prophet” (2 Peter 2:15-16).
2. Jude compared him to backsliders who “…Run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit” (Jude 11).
3. John considered him a corrupter of Israel, similar to false leaders in the church at Pergamos, “…Because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality” (Revelation 2:14).
If you re-read the timeworn tale of Balaam in Numbers 22-25, you’ll learn several valuable lessons: First, while the enemy wants to curse you, God wants to bless you. Second, be careful about whom you allow to influence you. A soothsayer and immoral people lured Israel into sin. Third, don’t be motivated by greed. The love of money led Balaam into all sorts of bad behavior. Fourth, even a donkey knows that you can’t curse what God has blessed. What the enemy intends as a curse against you, God can and will reverse it and turn it into a blessing!
Note: this article was recently featured in the Daily Mountain Eagle, a county newspaper based in Jasper, Alabama.
Ben preaching at the Goodsprings Full Gospel Church
Ben at a recent book signing
Ben Godwin grew up in Tampa, Florida. He was struck by a car while riding a bicycle as a boy. Then he received a miraculous healing and began preaching at the age of thirteen. He has been involved in full-time ministry since 1987. Ben served as an evangelist from 1987 until 1994, when he began pastoral work. For the past fifteen years he has served as the pastor of the Goodsprings Full Gospel Church, thirty miles west of Birmingham, Alabama.
Ben holds a Bachelor of Theology degree from Christian Life School of Theology, based in Columbus, Georgia. He has been blessed to preach across the United States as well as Russia, Canada, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Mexico. He has shared his miracle testimony in hundreds of churches, schools, and youth camps. His testimony has been featured in several magazines and on numerous television and radio programs. He also hosts a weekly TV program called The Word Workshop and writes a monthly column for the Daily Mountain Eagle, a newspaper in Jasper, Alabama.
Ben's book, God's Strategy For Tragedy, explores the following themes:
- Do miracles still happen today?
- Why does God allow tragedy?
- How should we respond to tragedy?
- How can you receive a miracle?
God's Strategy for Tragedy provides solid answers to these and other questions and illustrates, both from Scriptures and real life, how God can turn tragedy into a testimony.
Watch our weekly TV program The Word Workshop.
If you live in the Jasper, Alabama, area or in Walker, Winston, Fayette or Jefferson Counties, you can view our telecast on Jasper's new digital TV 16-1 or Charter Cable channel 10 or Galaxy Cable channel 8. The program airs on Mondays @ 9 p.m. and Tuesdays @ 12 (noon). If you live outside the viewing area, you can watch via live stream at TV16HD.com. Our show features Gospel music and Pastor Ben's Sunday sermons. The program can also be seen in parts of Jefferson, Cullman, Fayette and Tuscaloosa counties. DVD's of each broadcast are available upon request.