Blessings of the Faithful
Today's Reading: Psalm 35-36; Acts 25
“And Jacob called his sons and said, "Gather together, that I may tell you what shall befall you in the last days….” Genesis 49:1
Jacob was at the end of his life. He had the opportunity to tell his sons what would happen to each of them in their future before “he drew his feet up into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people” (Genesis 49:33). Jacob prophesied, or spoke forth the future of their tribes, to his sons, who are the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel. Genesis 49:28 says, “All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father spoke to them. And he blessed them; he blessed each one according to his own blessing.” If you read the words that Jacob spoke, they were very insightful and discerning, but are his words really a blessing?
The definition of blessing is to speak well of someone, to impart good favor and to endow prosperity on someone. We use the word “blessing” as a way to make someone happy. Even in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, Jesus starts each sentence with “Blessed are they that…” (KJV). The word “blessed” is defined as “to be well off, happy, fortunate.” Each person described in Matthew 5, from a worldly perspective, is not someone that seems highly favored or happy today. Who wants to “mourn, be poor in spirit, be meek or be persecuted?” In addition, if we read the words that Jacob spoke to some of his sons (like Reuben, Simeon and Levi), we would not define them as words of blessing. Personally, I would not have wanted to hear those last words from my father on his death bed.
So what are some other definitions for blessing as illustrated from Jacob’s last words in the Old Testament? Hebrews 11:21 describes Jacob’s very last act of blessing his children as his supreme act of faith. Jacob believed that God used his words to speak forth His truth concerning the future of his sons. For parents, blessing our children is an act of faith in which we trust them to God. We also bless our children by discerning God’s talents and spiritual gifts and then, we release them to fulfill God’s purpose in their lives. Even if the words are so truthful that they are interpreted as piercing the heart instead of blessing the heart, we have to remember that the truth sets us free. By embracing the truth and asking forgiveness, we are blessed by being made alright through the grace and mercy of the Lord. There is no greater blessing than the covering of Jesus’ blood which sets us free from sin and cleanses us from all unrighteousness. How “blessed” is the man who trusts in Him (Psalm 84:12).