JERUSALEM, Israel – Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump gave a stirring speech in Saudi Arabia on the necessity of defeating Islamic terrorism. Leaders of Muslim-majority nations, including Egypt and Jordan, came to hear him speak on forming an international coalition to fight the spread of terrorism worldwide.
From Riyadh, the president flew to Israel where he expressed his deep friendship with the Jewish state. Israelis, nonetheless, were disappointed when he decided not to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, at least for now.
Trump reasoned such a move could impede progress in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The president has been told – and may believe – that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would have a ripple effect throughout the region.
But what does the Bible say about God's plan for the Jewish nation?
The story of Balaam and Balak in Numbers 23-25 is about much more than a talking donkey. It reveals God's eternal and unchangeable plan for Israel.
Balak, the king of Moab, didn't want the Israelites settling next to him. He'd heard what they'd done to the Amorites and it made him "sick with dread." So he got word to Balaam, a diviner with a powerful reputation who lived near the Euphrates River, and invited him to come and curse the Israelites, promising it would be well worth his time.
It didn't work. Balaam couldn't curse the nation God had blessed, though he tried three times. Apparently God had set Israel apart for His own purposes.
How shall I curse whom God has not cursed? And how shall I denounce whom the Lord has not denounced? For from the top of the rocks I see him and from the hills I behold him; There! A people dwelling alone, not reckoning itself among the nations. (Numbers 23:8-9)
And again God spoke through Balaam.
God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said and will He not do? Or has He spoken and will He not make it good?
Behold, I have received a command to bless. He has blessed, and I cannot reverse it.
It's futile to curse His chosen ones, the diviner, summoned by the king, learned.
For there is no sorcery against Jacob, nor any divination against Israel. It now must be said of Jacob and of Israel, 'Oh, what God has done! (Num. 23:23)
Instead, God opened Balaam's eyes to see His plan for Israel.
How lovely are your tents, O Jacob! Your dwellings, O Israel! Blessed is he who blesses you, and cursed is he who curses you. ((Numbers 24:5, 9b)
Then Balaam foretold what will take place in the latter days, mentioning both Israel and Jordan's future in the prophecy.
I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near. A Star shall come out of Jacob, a Scepter shall rise out of Israel and batter the brow of Moab and destroy all the sons of tumult. And Edom shall be a possession; Seir also, his enemies, shall be a possession, while Israel does valiantly. (Num. 24:17-18)
Fast forward to the 21st century.
President Trump's plan may be a good one for now, and God may prosper his efforts. But when the nations stake claim to Jerusalem, to divide the city, God will intervene, as only He can, in what promises to be a divine light show unlike anything the world has seen.
So no matter what it looks like or how it unfolds, God will fulfill his plan for Israel. It's fascinating to watch it play out in the headlines. He turned Balaam's cursing into blessing. May He grant the nations ears to hear, eyes to see and a heart to understand what the Spirit of the Lord is saying today.