If you’ve already read the chapter for today, you might be wondering how you can find the "fairness" element in it. It’s a pretty gruesome chapter. The men of Israel went off whoring with some Moabite women — who subsequently took them to church in order to offer sacrifices to their god, Baal. What happened next wasn’t pretty: the ringleaders of this little jaunt were killed and publicly exposed, an Israelite man and Moabite woman were both run through with a sword and killed after acting in open defiance against the Lord’s command, and then a subsequent plague killed thousands of people.
As a little aside, let me just say that the Lord hates idolatry. Why? Because it hurts us. When we "bow down" to other gods — no matter what they are — we are entrusting ourselves to things that don’t exist. And believing that we can manipulate these gods into giving us "a good life" produces defiance and rebellion in us toward the God of heaven. We’re in control. We know what’s best. How else could the Israelite man have taken the Moabite woman into his tent in open defiance of everything he saw going on around him? He thought Baal was going to protect him. I guess he found out that Baal is no match for Jehovah.
So, what does this have to do with fairness? I found it interesting that this awful turn of events comes right on the heels of Balaam’s seven-fold blessing of Israel. Balaam wanted to curse Israel, but God only wanted to bless them. And bless them He did. But not too much later, God is doing some seemingly-unsavory things in Israel — once again dealing with defiance. And what this says to me is that God isn’t into nepotism.
You know what I’m talking about, right? You know people who will defend their friends or their children or their spouse no matter what, don’t you? They have their list of people who can "do no wrong," and they will turn a blind eye to any amount of evidence to the contrary. I see parents like this with their children sometimes on television courtroom shows; it’s clear that the children have misbehaved in an unbelievable way, but it all falls on deaf ears when it comes to the parents. They have an endless amount of excuses as to why their kid shouldn’t be held accountable.
God is not like that. Even after Balaam’s seven-fold blessing, God didn’t shut His eyes and say, "My people are blessed. Now they can do no wrong." No way. Because they were blessed and because God cared about them so much, He was right in the midst of their idolatry and rebellion, taking a very hard line with them, trying to correct their wayward tendencies.
God doesn’t play favorites. He doesn’t just decide to bless some people forever — no matter what they do — and curse some people forever — no matter what they do. Actually, He blesses everyone. That’s what Jesus said in the gospel of Matthew. Whether or not we reap all the intended benefits of those blessings is up to us. The benefits are intrinsic, not arbitrary.
Because God is out to bless us, because He is looking out for our best good, He doesn’t close His eyes to our wickedness. Instead, like a doctor confronted with a rotting flesh wound, He comes in and cleans it out. It may stink. It may not be fun. We may howl in pain. But if we are willing to let God work, in the end, we will be healed.