The Lord spoke to Moses: Tell Aaron and his sons: You will bless the Israelites as follows. Say to them:
The Lord bless you and protect you.
The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you.
The Lord lift his face to you and grant you peace.
They will place my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them. (Common English Bible)
Life operates by blessing, not cursing.
The world cannot stand up under the curse. The new earth will endure forever with a blessing.
People wither without a blessing. They die when cursed. Not necessarily in body. Most definitely in spirit.
Something must be said about the word “blessing.” It gets used and misused a lot, especially by Christians.
As with most words in the Old Testament, “blessing” is a relational word. It means to have God’s stamp of approval on your life. It’s meant to convey that the Lord’s presence is with us. To be blessed by God is a multi-dimensional experience – receiving promises, enjoying peace, having right relationships with both God and other people, and knowing divine comfort and security.
A blessing isn’t simply having money and/or family and a good job. One could have none of those and still be blessed by God. And being blessed is not getting everything you want. Some people continually get what they want and are cursed, not blessed.
Blessing is tied not to human activity but divine initiative. We can’t finagle a blessing out of God. Plenty of folks try to do that, and, like Jacob, they might get away with it in their family – but it will not work with God. The grace of blessing is freely bestowed by a benevolent and merciful Lord.
Everything comes down to God. The Lord is not stingy but generous – not subject to the whimsy of human cajoling but deeply influenced by the unending unity, harmony, and love within the divine godhead.
In other words, divine blessing is a gift – not something earned or cleverly received through trickery or manipulation.
Blessing one another is also a gift. In fact, God clearly communicated to Moses and Aaron how they were to bless the people with powerful words.
I believe we all intuitively know that words and language have the power of life and of death, of blessing and cursing. And withholding words of blessing and keeping silent is to withhold goodness and love from another. Speaking words of blessing and backing up those words with an active commitment, is vital to humanity’s spiritual and emotional health.
Fathers and mothers everywhere across the world stand in a unique and special position as those who have the power of bestowing a blessing on their children – a blessing of being with them, approving of them, affirming their gifts and abilities, envisioning for them a special future of how God can use them. Those words of blessing have the power to help children navigate the world with assurance and confidence. Armed with blessing, they can filter-out the choices in front of them and walk in the way of God.
Notice in the New Testament Gospels how the God the Father blessed the Son:
And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17, NRSV)
God provided a constant presence and an active commitment through the Spirit; God spoke words of approval and affirmation; God the Father had a special future for Jesus the Son, which helped Jesus to repel the words of Satan. Since Jesus needed and received a blessing from his Father, how much more do we?
Jesus passed the blessing to his disciples with a promise of presence and commitment:
Jesus came near and spoke to them, “I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.” (Matthew 28:18-20, CEB)
Jesus informed the disciples his presence would be with them; communicated an active commitment to give them authority to do the job of disciple-making; pictured for them a special future of reaching the nations; affirmed and approved them. “The Great Commission” is really a statement of God’s blessing.
One reality needs to be recognized and affirmed with all confidence: You and I already possess God’s blessing; there is no need to try and earn it. The words of blessing state what is, in fact, already true.
We have the privilege and the ability to reverse the world’s curse and turn it into blessing. Those blessed with money can be a blessing by giving it away. Those blessed by growing up in a loving family can provide love to others who are unloved and need a special blessing. Those blessed with wisdom can mentor and instruct those who need wisdom. Those blessed with the mercy of God can be merciful to others. Those blessed with a wonderful relationship with God can pray people into the kingdom of God.
Parents, it is never too late to bless your children, even if they are adults. Children, it is never too late to bless your parents and your siblings, even if they are prickly and hard. To not bless is to curse. Bless through words that build up, and do not tear down. Use those words to picture a special future of what God can do. Follow through with those words by demonstrating an active commitment to embodying blessing.
I leave you with a blessing:
May God answer you when you are in distress; may the name of Jesus protect you.
May the Lord send help when you need it and give you support when you cry out to him.
May the God of heaven remember your good deeds done in faith and accept you just as you are.
May the Lord give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.
When the Almighty goes out of the way to answer your prayers, then I will be the first to shout with joy!
I know the Lord is God. There is a special future for you beyond what you can even ask or think. And I will be there on the sidelines, encouraging you all the way.
Some people trust in the political process, others trust in the strength of the economy; but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
May God answer when you call.
May God bless you with an everlasting love.
May you know Christ, and him crucified, risen, and coming again.
May God’s presence and power be with you now and forever. Amen.
*Above painting of the Trinity by Alek Rapaport, 1994