Sunday, 2 May 2021

Two Kinds of Blessing

The Bible doesn’t promise us an easy life. There will be struggles, but one day we will understand their purpose. In Christ we have a future and a reason to live today.  

We all want to be blessed, but what kind of blessing are we expecting, Happiness? Health? Wealth? Prosperity? Power? Jacob was a man who wanted to be blessed by his father Isaac.  The name Jacob means ‘heel grabber’, he was therefore by name and nature a trickster.  First, he caught his brother Esau in a moment of need and stole his birth right, then, aided by his equally scheming mother, he stole his brother’s blessing. You may want to remind yourself of the story by reading from Genesis 27 to Genesis 28:9. Jacob’s character is revealed in that he had no conscience about deceiving his father, only a fear of being found out and cursed instead (Genesis 27:12), but God had plans, as the rest of the story reveals.

Looking closely at the text, we see that Jacob was blessed by Isaac twice; the first in Genesis 27:27-29, the second in Genesis 28:3-4.  There are however some key differences.

Blessing One - The Stolen Blessing

The first blessing promises both wealth and power – the ‘fatness of the earth’ and ‘lord over your brothers’, even ‘blessing for those who bless you’. This is the blessing for the easy life – ‘La Dolce Vita’ in which everything goes right, no struggles, no pain, no trauma nor tragedy.  Did it come to pass? Not at all. Jacob struggled with man and with God, being renamed Israel to testify to his struggling. He ran for his life from his brother, was continually deceived by his uncle Laban, ran away again, bowed and grovelled before his brother, was bereaved of wife and favourite son, and lost everything, becoming destitute in the famine, finally living out his day’s dependent on his re-found son Joseph. Living his last days in exile in Egypt he described to Pharaoh his 130 years sojourning as ‘few and evil’.  Clearly the blessing he gained by deception did him no good at all.

Blessing Two - The Real Blessing

Source: PInterest
There was however another blessing; the real blessing, given willingly by his father to the son who now obeyed (Genesis 28:3-4). This time there is no mention of personal prosperity but the promise of offspring, becoming a ‘company of peoples’, and possession of the land – all the promises that God had given to his grandfather Abraham.  In this blessing Isaac invokes the name of God Almighty, ‘El Shaddai’, the all sufficient One who provides.

So, Jacob, and subsequently the nation of Israel, will struggle, will be rejected and mistreated, but will fulfil the promises of God in covenant continuity for a people and a land. Jonathan Sachs wrote: ‘Time and again God blesses the patriarchs – but always and only in terms of children and a land.  He never promises them ‘the richness of the earth’, or that they will ‘rule over their brothers’.  Wealth and power have nothing to do with the covenant.  They are not part of Israel’s destiny’.

As Christian believers we have been included in these promises. The Bible doesn’t promise us an easy life. There will be struggles, but one day we will understand their purpose. In Christ we have a future and a reason to live today.  

Philippians 3:20 ‘Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ’.

Be blessed!

Author: John Plumb

May God bless and enrich your life

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