Friday, March 28, 2014

Black Sheep--by Linden Malki

We've been looking  at Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as a family blessed by God.  However, in addition to this family line, there were black sheep in Abraham's family flock.

Lot, the son of Abram/Abraham's brother, came to the land that became Israel with Abraham, and lived with the family for some years. However,  we notice that when it came time for Lot to go out on his own, he chose the ungodly city of Sodom to settle in and raise his daughters. When Sodom was destroyed by the righteous judgment of God, instead of moving back to Abraham's territory, he and his daughters fled in the opposite direction.  Then the daughters took their fate in their own hands (where else have we seen this happening?) and had sons through their father--sons who became the ancestors of the East Bank tribes of Moab and Ammon.  The sons then married into the local Canaanite culture, and took on their bloody "gods" Chemosh and Molech. (1)

When the Israelites were migrating back from Egypt coming north on the east side of the Dead Sea, they asked permission of the Kings of Moab and Ammon to travel through their territory peacefully. Both kings refused, but  King Balak of Moab did more. First, he hired Balaam the prophet to curse the Israelites (which God prevented him from doing), but Balaam also suggested to  Balak that if the Israelites were to be seduced by Moabite women and participate in their pagan fun and games, God would withdraw His protection. (2)
As a result, Moses excluded the Israelites from associating with the Moabites. (3) However, God is also a God of mercy.  Who has the authority to pardon?  The one who has the responsibility of enforcing a rule--usually a judge or king/president/governor--or the injured party.  God is both, here--the Moabites were  guilty of not only inhospitality but actively working to destroy Israel and offend God. 

In the beautiful promises of Ruth 1:16-17,  a young Moabite widow not only pledges loyalty to her Israelite mother-in-law Naomi, but to Naomi's God.  God made an appropriate exception to His judgment on Moab, and not only blessed Ruth herself, but through her, Naomi, Boaz, the tribe of Judah, and all mankind, through Ruth's great-grandson, King David. 

God is the ultimate Authority, the One who lays down the principles that make His Kingdom righteous.  But He is also he One with the power to forgive when appropriate, which makes His Kingdom work.  Both sides of this coin are necessary, and both are in His hands.

1) Genesis 19
2) Numbers 22-24;  25:1-5, 31:16
3) Deuteronomy 23:3-8

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