No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of their [descendants], even to the tenth generation, shall ever enter the assembly of the LORD, because they did not meet you with food and water on the way when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you. Nevertheless, the LORD your God was not willing to listen to Balaam, but the LORD your God turned the curse into a blessing for you because the LORD your God loves you. You shall never seek their peace or their prosperity all your days.
Right off the bat, this passage catches my attention, because Ruth, the forebear of King David, was a Moabitess (Ruth 1:4). But there seems to me to be a renunciation of that heritage on the part of Ruth. Naomi tells Ruth to go back to her people and her gods and Ruth refuses, saying that Naomi’s people (the Israelites) shall be her (Ruth’s) people and that Naomi’s God shall be her (Ruth’s) God (Ruth 1:15-17). It is an often taught passage of scripture. And I think that there is application in this for the believer.
The Israelites are told to hold the Moabites and Ammonites as enduring enemies because those peoples did not meet the Israelites with provisions, but summoned a prophet to curse the Israelites (Numbers 22-24). Plenty of peoples did not receive the Israelites on friendly terms. The Edomites, for example, were cold toward their distant relations, the Israelites and Edomites being descended from a pair of twin brothers named Jacob (Israel) and Esau (Edom) (Genesis 25:30; 32:3; 36). The Moabites and Ammonites were also distant relations, Moab and Ben-Ammi being the sons of Abraham’s nephew Lot (Genesis 19:36-38). It is one mass of familial dysfunction. But the point of departure seems to be that the Ammonites and Moabites tried to have the Israelites cursed. Apparently, God understands turning a cold shoulder to your family, but trying to curse those whom He has blessed is grounds for Bad Things. It should have been obvious, what with God telling Abraham that He (God) would bless those who bless him (Abraham) and curse those who cursed him (Genesis 12:3). This also carries application for me, as a believer.
Last item of note, for me, is that the LORD your God turned the curse into a blessing for you because the LORD your God loves you. God is still in the business of turning curses into blessings. He regularly flips the script on behalf of those whom He loves and who love Him. I have often experienced this in my own life and can attest that God has done this and continues to do this.
How can I apply all of this?
First, repentance; renunciation of what lies behind permits access to even those who were once barred from entering the assembly of the LORD. There is no wrong so grievous that repentance cannot elicit God’s forgiveness. The Moabites were supposed to be barred from the assembly even to the tenth generation. David, Ruth’s great-grandson, not only entered the assembly, but was anointed king of the Israelites. God can forgive anything if there is repentance.
Second, opposing God does not end well. The Moabites and Ammonites tried to do the exact opposite of what God intended to do. They tried to have the Israelites cursed when God intended to bless them. So the king of Moab squandered resources and time trying to have the Israelites cursed when he could have been blessed by doing nothing more than blessing them. The Israelites only wanted to pass through his kingdom and go on to the places God had in store for them. They sent messages saying this. All the king of Moab had to do was sit back and do nothing to avoid trouble. He could have invited blessing on himself and his people by blessing the Israelites. Cooperating with God’s plan always yields better results.
Last, God has turned things around for those He loves and who love Him in return. Paul later writes that God works all things together for good to whose who love God and are called according to His (God’s) purpose (Romans 8:28). The seas, I have learned, are not always peaceful when I am in the center of God’s will. But I always have peace on those rough seas that place me in the center of God’s will. There is always blessing for those who love God.
Let me repent of the things I have done wrong and do them no more. Let me cooperate with God’s plan. And let me love God wholeheartedly, knowing that He will be the One to protect me and provide what is needful in the midst of difficulty and trial.
Thank You, Father, for loving me and for being ready and willing to forgive anything of which we will repent. Please give me a repentant heart toward those things that displease You and give me a heart that wants to cooperate with Your plan and program.