Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed” is Yahushua’ first word in the Sermon on the Mount. The first time the word “bless” occurs in the Bible is way back in Genesis 12.
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen. 12:1-3)
These verses are extraordinarily important. In fact, roughly 31,102 verses in the Bible can be summarized with these three verses from Genesis 12. And they come at an interesting moment. After the Bible’s first two glorious creation chapters, history goes from bad to worse—the Fall, the Flood, and the Tower of Babel. You have to wonder, What will God do now?
After earning my driver’s license, it took only a few weeks to have my first accident. I buried the nose of the family VW into a stone wall. They towed the car back to our driveway. We lived across from the church where my dad was pastor. I was waiting on the front porch when he crossed the street and took a circuit around the car with its crumpled front end and one headlight dangling by wires like an eyeball hanging by a nerve. He climbed the front steps, and I wondered, What will my father do now?
Beyond anything you’d expect, at humanity’s worst moment, God finds Abraham, blesses him and declares God’s plan to redeem history through the power of blessings. My friend and New Testament scholar, Dale Bruner, offers what I think is the single most helpful definition of blessed, which he translates to mean, I am with you. When we are helpless and in our worst state, we are blessed, because God is with us!
And by the way, after my father climbed the front steps, he gave me a kick—not hard, but just hard enough. And then when he stood in front of me, he threw his arms around me and gave me a hug. I deserved the kick, but not the hug. The hug was my father’s way of blessing me, and saying despite it all, he was with me.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Why is a blessing more likely than a threat to change a person permanently? Where have you been blessed by God’s undeserved kindness? How has this blessing changed your attitudes and behaviors?
O Lord, You have good reason to be annoyed and disappointed with me for my past performance, and yet You choose instead to bless me beyond all expectation. Help me to turn the page on my past. The greatest blessing of my life is Your presence with me, even now. In the name of Yahushua!