God wouldn’t curse Israel, because God was for them. But Balaam, the sly dog that he was, counseled Balak how Israel might be able curse themselves! “Why would they do that?” you might wonder. Well, we do it all the time.
Balaam told Balak to send Moabite women among Israel to entice them to sexual sin and even idolatry (Numbers 31:16). The one way you could get the LORD angry enough to destroy Israel was through Israel’s own sin. And it remains so among Christians today. Our salvation is secure; “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38, 39, NAS95. But that is not to say that we ourselves cannot separate ourselves from the LORD; consider this:
“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY.” And again, “THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.” It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Hebrews 10:26-31, NAS95.
Israel’s sin did what Balaam could not do on his own. God sent a plague among them and thousands died. It still didn’t keep them from entering the land of Canaan, but it put a pretty big dent in their numbers.
And that is the terrible evil of a stumbling block. Balaam got his reward, death (Numbers 31:8 and Joshua 13:22) for his part in Israel’s sin and plague.
Finally, the time comes for Moses to step aside. His sin against the LORD’s holiness (see 27:14) was due to receive its consequence. But before he crossed over to the other side, God does grant him a panoramic view of the Promised Land from Mt. Abarim, and appoints Joshua to succeed Moses as leader of Israel.
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.