Now Moses sent messengers from Kadesh to the king of Edom. Thus says your brother Israel: “You know all the hardship that has befallen us, how our fathers went down to Egypt, and we dwelt in Egypt a long time, and the Egyptians afflicted us and our fathers. … Please let us pass through your country.” (Numbers 20:14-17)
In spite of the fact that Moses promised the people of Israel would remain on the highway and take nothing from the Edomites, their king refused to let them pass. Despite the fact that they were related and that Israel had suffered greatly in Egypt, their relatives were unsympathetic towards them. Not only did he refuse them passage, but threatened to come at them with the sword. In reality, Israel could have invaded and destroyed the land and people of Edom, but they passed around them instead. God had given them explicit instructions not to engage their kinsman (Deuteronomy 2:4-5) in this way and so they did not.
From this, you and I can glean a great lesson — do what is right in the eyes of God regardless of what everyone else chooses to do. It is a human tendency to take a hard line with those who offend us or do us wrong, but that is not the way we are to be. We are commanded to love our enemies and bless those who curse us. We are to do good to those who hate us, and pray for those who abuse and persecute us (Matthew 5:44). To read the words of the Messiah is one thing; to follow through with them is another. Reacting in the way He instructs us, in the face of wrong and selfish behavior, is definitely not a common human attribute. Still, as followers of the Almighty, we are expected to rise above what is common, and even human.
Obviously, that is not to say that we are to be superhuman but it is to say that we are to aspire to emulate the character of our Heavenly Father. Messiah said that if we love only those who love us in return, how does that distinguish us from the rest of the world? Instead we are to do good to our enemies and never expect anything in return. If we do this, and from our heart, Messiah said, “You will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful” (Luke 6:35-36). This is a high standard to live by but live by it, we must.
Blessings and Shalom,