“On that day they read in the book of Moses in the audience of the people; and therein was found written, that the Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of God for ever; Because they met not the children of Israel with bread and with water, but hired Balaam against them, that he should curse them: howbeit our God turned the curse into a blessing.” – Nehemiah 13:1-2
I love the way God works. Time and time again, just as things begin to look their worse, God turns everything around for our good in some unexpected, checkmate moment. The word “checkmate” is a term used when playing chess. When spoken, it declares that there are no more moves to be made, a victor King is determined, and the game is finished. I’ve never been very good at it myself, but I’m convinced that God is the master chess player on the board of life. He always manages to catch the enemy unaware, using the very things the devil thought he was doing to destroy us, to not only defeat him but also position us to be blessed and bring about God’s will for our lives. God positions us in ways that hides us from appearing to be a threat to the enemy while allowing the devil’s moves to position everyone for and unexpected “checkmate”. The devil thought he was going to win by having the pharisees hang Jesus on the cross, he thought he would win by sending Pharaoh and his army across the Red Sea after Moses, he thought he would win by having Joseph sold into slavery and imprisoned, and he thought he would win by sending Balaam the diviner to curse the children of Israel. However, in every case, all he actually did was position them to be used against himself in God’s final checkmate move.
In the above mentioned verse, the displaced Israelites, in their migration, had wondered onto Balak’s land. Instead of bringing them bread and water (a scriptural archetype of Jesus which is the Word, and the Holy Spirit), Balak sought to destroy them. However he had a problem, he knew the children of Israel were to strong for him so he sent for a witch to curse them that he might be able to over take them. O, but God… Here enters Balaam the diviner.
Balak hires Balaam to curse the Isrealites, but through a series of events that can be found in the book of Numbers chapter 22 which consist of everything from dreams, to Balaam getting told off by his donkey, God causes Israel to be blessed by the very man hired to curse it. Not just once, but three times, and right in front of the astonished and dismayed Balak. Who then received the same curse upon himself, that he had intended for God’s people. Checkmate
“But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” – Genesis 50:20
God knows what He is doing. Never reveal yourself ahead of time or make any moves on your own. God has a plan. When you act in total obedience to God, put all your trust in Him and allow Him to use you, then even when it looks like you’re losing the fight, you’re actually being positioned for the win.
I leave you with a remarkable story that has been told from many a pulpit over the years. It’s the story of a famous painting that hung in The Louvre in France:
Two men stand staring in front of a painting in the art gallery. In the painting, a man is playing chess with the devil. The devil is grinning ear-to-ear because he has the man cornered. The title of the painting, “Checkmate,” indicates that the game is over. The devil has won. His opponent has failed. He has no more moves.
The first man looking at the painting wants to move on to view other paintings in the gallery. But the second man, an international chess champion, wants to look at the painting longer, so he waves his friend on and tells him he will catch up later. The chess champion stares and stares at the chess board, then suddenly he steps back, flabbergasted. “It’s wrong!” he exclaims. “There’s one more move.” He runs to his friend and together they look at the painting. “We have to contact the painter,” the chess champion says. “It’s not checkmate. The King has one more move!”