God’s determined purpose to bless
In today’s mixed culture of evangelical Christianity, among many things the belief and understanding of the Blessing of God has varied across the board – concerning its divine intention, attributes, and usual manner of reception. It is no doubt a broad topic, but I want to demonstrate something here that simply tackles the more concrete concerns that people have over what it looks like and how some Christians seem to have come to receive it.
For some reason there has been aversion in certain circles to what others call the Blessing of God – which often takes the forms of outpourings of the Holy Spirit and its related manifestations, or prosperity, or increasing numbers in church on a Sunday. Whatever form it takes, I am of no doubt that it is God’s intention to bless His people, and any aversion should not be to the notion that God can bless me, but to excessive imbalances in the body of Christ. And that with humility – Jesus’ instruction to remove the plank from our eye before removing the speck from our brother’s tells me that my sin ought to be a way bigger deal to me than someone else’s.
I realised the importance of understanding the blessing of God when reading the Bible! It’s a good place to start to gain understanding! It was one of those occasions when a familiar passage takes on a new shape and meaning even though you’ve read it countless times. It was Hebrews 6. I was already familiar with certain phrases in the relevant passage – about God confirming His oath by swearing by Himself, which made two unchangeable things which showed how committed He was to His purpose. But amazingly, I’d never tied the passage together to find out what this purpose actually was that He was so committed to. But on this one occasion, I went back and found out what it was – and was amazed. Here it is:
‘For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.” And so…he obtained the promise…. Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.’ (Heb 6:13-18)
Wow! What an incredible passage! Now what you have to understand when you read this passage is that we are indisputably the ‘heirs of promise’ that the passage speaks of. The book of Galatians speaks most clearly to this, which includes a reiteration of the subject in hand, the blessing of God:
‘…just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture…preached…to Abraham before hand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham…. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law…that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.’ (Gal 3:6-14)
What an incredible purpose that the New Testament highlights as our inheritence! It is my prayer that now you might realise the significance and importance of understanding the blessing of God. It is something He tied Himself to by swearing an oath by Himself – He is that serious about it! We must be careful to rule out too quickly anything that peolpe are calling ‘the Blessing of God’ in case it really is the blessing – because we will be cutting ourselves off from His purpose, and indeed from faith in God, for it was to the man of faith that God spoke the word, because of faith, and by faith he obtained the promise.
Finally, simply to address the perceived pride that exists in being a blessing-seeker, perhaps in what some have crudely and unthoughfully labelled the ‘bless-me clubs’. Isn’t it selfish to seek the blessing? Isn’t it indulgent and therefore, if it’s indulgent, then surely this is all a deception?
Well if seeking a blessing was selfish, then why did God stop in the middle of a geanealogy to mention the prayer of Jabez? ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!’ In fact it actually says that he was more honourable than all his brothers, and that God gave him what he asked for! (1 Chron 4:9-10) No comments about selfishness anywhere!
In fact, I believe (perhaps controversially) that nothing could be more humble and selfless than learning to receive the blessing. I guess for me it would be an exercise in humility at least for the fact that I know there are those around who sneer upon running to the altar for a fresh touch, and so I have to not be bothered by that. But again I seek the blessing not for myself only, but for the nations, for my neighbours, for my brothers and sisters, as of course is indicated by the passage from Galatians, that the blessing is to affect nations.
Furthermore, word studies in verses like Psalm 37:7 (‘Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him’) – specifically on the words ‘wait’ and ‘patiently’, suggest waiting in ambush, and patiently with the kind of focus required to spin about very fast or the concentration involved in giving birth! It’s all there in the Hebrew and in the contexts in which the words are also used in the Old Testament. There is a kind of seeking after the Lord which carries the determination that Jacob had, saying “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” (Gen 32:26). It is a search which requires abandonment and a loss of self-dignity, for Jacob walked with a limp for the rest of his life as a result of that encounter! But he got what he was after – the Blessing of God. Therefore I maintain that there is something truly humble about seeking for God’s blessing on your life.
How else could we do life unless we went with His blessing and favour? Oh, we could try to live like Jesus, but the most we would achieve is a few moral standards which, I have to be honest, I’ve seen matched in non-Christians. We need the manifestation of His Spirit, the supernatural, evidenced blessing of God, if we are to effectively change the world for Jesus! Lord, help us to humbly seek Your blessing, and to learn how to receive the same!