What hath God wrought
By: Michael Peebles
Date: June 21, 2013
Suggested Scripture reading for this meditation is the Torah portion for this week, and the haftarah reading.
What hath God wrought!?
This is an interesting question from the second oracle of Balaam. It is recorded in Numbers (Devarim) 23:23. The whole thought is, “Now it shall be said of Jacob and Israel, ‘What hath God wrought!?”
This thought came from YHVH to the heart of Balaam on Pisgah. King Balak had brought him there to curse the children of Israel, and chose the spot because he thought that it might help if Balaam could not see all of the people at once. In the first instance Balaam was inspired to an utterance about how Jacob was blessed with a special status, great numbers, and concluded with the desirability of ending life in righteousness. Balak thought to alter the outcome by changing the view.
The opening verse of this portion tells us that King Balak “saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites.” He did not see that Israel offered to move peacefully through the land of the Amorites, even offering to muzzle their animals so that they would not be a load upon the people around them as they passed through. Balak was not considering that the Amorites went out offensively against Israel. He only saw that they were defeated.
King Balak here provides us an example of what happens when a person tries to alter the truth of God by using perspective upon it. The truth of God does not change when we move to a different perspective.
This question about what God was doing is placed in thoughts about how Almighty God was present with Israel, and how to be at enmity with them would result in destruction.
As it happens, Balak continued to try to get a different result, and the opening words of the Mah Tovu prayer commemorate the result as people enter the synagogues with his words on their lips every week. “How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel.” The words of the Psalm that follow in the Mah Tovu prayer recall to mind how Balaam must have felt as he looked upon Israel as an outsider, in the presence of God, and fell prostrate before the Almighty. Proximity to God must result in awe of him, and in blessing what he chooses to bless.
In Micah Chapter 6, where these events are recalled to mind, there is an interesting thought. Verse five calls the reader or hearer as a part of the people of God, to “remember” this history with Balak and Balaam, in order to know the righteousness of YHVH. It amounts to the same exhortation that forms the devotional question of this post. Remember. Consider. Inquire purposefully, “What hath God wrought?”
This thought might be applied to us in many ways. But it seems best for us to begin with the one that occurs by letting the question simply work its primary purpose. In your life, in each of our lives, and in all of our lives together;
“What hath God wrought?”