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  • Writer's pictureVicar Matt Doebler

Matins Devotion: June 1, 2023

Numbers 24:1-25; Luke 23:1-25

Once, the devil stirred up Balak, the king of Moab, to gather together all his princes so they could combine all their wealth, and power, and authority and focus it on the task of destroying the approaching nation of Israel. Yet, in the texts we’ve read the past few days, we’ve seen that God was working through them the entire time in order to thwart the devil’s murderous scheme. We’ve seen how God intervenes and reverses the situation. We’ve seen how God uses this mercenary prophet Balaam who’s been led up to a mountain-top in order to pronounce curses upon Israel—we’ve seen how God, instead, puts words of blessing in Balaam’s mouth. We see all this take place, and we’re simply left to marvel and wonder and rejoice at the absolute power of God to take what was meant for evil and use it for good.

Yet the devil wasn’t done trying to destroy God’s people.

Once again, the devil stirred up the hearts of wicked men to create an unholy alliance against God’s chosen one. He stirs up the heart of Judas to betray, the hearts of the chief priest and rulers to slander, the heart of Herod to mock, and the heart of Pilate to love the approval of men more than the truth. In all this, the devil is using their wealth, and power, and authority in order to focus it on the task of destroying the Son of God who has come into the world to bring the Kingdom near.

And yet, as we saw with Balak and Balaam, the entire time God is working through the schemes of the devil to bring about the devil’s own destruction. God intervenes and creates a stunning reversal. As Christ is led up the mountain of Calvary, as he is nailed to a cross of wood, as he is lifted up so that all men can look upon him as one who has been cursed—at this moment, all the earthly princes who have gathered to bear witness to his destruction now, instead, hear words of blessing come ringing from his mouth as he cries, “Father, forgive them!”

In this moment, the prayer of Jesus ascends from earth to heaven. In this moment, the Father looks down from heaven—he sees his beloved Son hanging from the cursed tree, he sees the holy and innocent blood of his beloved Son falling to the ground—in this moment, the Father looks from heaven and sees the entire mass of sinful and wicked mankind that deserves nothing but his wrath, and judgment, and anger—and he answers the prayer of his son. He forgives. He pardons. He blesses. We see all this and we’re left to marvel and wonder and rejoice at the absolute power of God to take what was meant for evil and use it for good. To take death and use it to give us life. To take the curse and turn it into a blessing.

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