Blessed Of The Lord
Much is being written today about the blessing of the Lord. For example we have the "Prayer of Jabez" that expounds on the topic of God's blessing. This series of lessons extracted from Psalm 119 are designed to put the principles of God's blessing into a clearer light.
Ps 119:1-2 Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD. (2 Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.
These two verses will set the backdrop for our study. The Hebrew word used in these verses for "Blessed" is "Esher".
blessed - 'esher (eh'-sher/OT:835); from OT:833; happiness; only in masculine plural construction as interjection, how happy!: KJV - blessed, happy. (SEC)
This Hebrew word is the past tense of "Bless/Happy - Ashar" which provides a clearer application of the Old Testament concept of being blessed of God.
bless - 'ashar (aw-shar'/OT:833); or 'asher (aw-share'); a primitive root; to be straight (used in the widest sense, especially to be level, right, happy); figuratively, to go forward, be honest, proper: KJV - (call, be) bless (-ed, happy), go, guide, lead, relieve.
'ashar or 'asher (OT:833) to go straight, to walk, to go on, to advance, to make progress a) (Qal) to go straight on, to make progress b) (Piel) 1) to go straight on, to advance 2) to lead on (causative) 3) to set right, to righten 4) to pronounce happy, to call blessed c) (Pual) 1) to be advanced, to be led on 2) to be made happy, to be blessed (Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon)
"To walk straight on: the word that signifies to go, signifies also to happy or blessed, because our way or motion shows what our end or rest shall be; our happiness in the end lies virtually in our way" (Old Testament Word Studies)
"To be straight, right; especially used of the straight way, hence also what is upright, erect - the significance and firmness in the Talmud. To be successful, to prosper, to be fortunate - favored. To guide or lead straight. To pronounce/make happy or fortunate - favored one. (Gesenius Hebrew Lexicon)
The Hebrew word of "Ashar" has several interesting applications given to us in the various lexicons being used. These applications provide us insight into God's blessing.
When we think that God's blessing only impacts our prosperity, then we have missed the greater impact that God's blessing will have on our lives. It is true that God's blessing will impact our prosperity, but we must recognize that God's blessing is not an object we seek, but a way and path we walk in.
Consider with me the possibility that those who are the blessed of the Lord are also His favored ones. Some might say that God loves all people the same and has no favorite souls.
Is the love of God the same as the favor of God?
The Bible clearly teaches that God commanded his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, He had Christ die for our sins (Rom 5:8). We read also in the Epistle to the Romans that nothing can separate us from the love of God found in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:39). The love of God is real and unconditional, but is it possible to have an unconditional love for some one who displeases you?
We read in the Bible that it's possible to grieve the Holy Spirit through our unrepentant lives filled with the lusts of the flesh (Eph 4:25-31). The Epistle to the Romans also teaches that those who "… are in the flesh cannot please God." (Rom 8:8). The author of Hebrews also indicated that it's possible to displease God through our lack of faith.
For example! We see in the Cain and Able narrative that Able found favor with God by his sacrifice, but God did not look with favor on Cain and his offering (Gen 4:4-5 NIV). The narrative also indicated that God had love for both sons of Adam. There is a difference between the love of God and His favor.
Ex 33:12-14 Moses said to the LORD, "You have been telling me, 'Lead these people,' but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, 'I know you by name and you have found favor with me.' (13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people." (14 The LORD replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." (NIV)
Moses, also was a man who understood that the favor of God was a prized possession to be sought after, but he also knew the importance of walking in the ways of God. Another important principle is found in these verses; the favor of God and His manifest presence are the same truth.
Ps 5:12 For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield. (KJV)
According to King David, the favor of the Lord surrounds the righteous in the same way as a shield protects a warrior in battle. It is interesting to note that David associated the favor of God with a battle shield. Now correlate this application of shield with our full armor of God found in Ephesians 6:11-17. Paul refers to the shield of God as the shield of faith. Is it possible that we have a correlation between faith in God and his divine favor.
Prov 8:35-36 For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the LORD. (36 But whoever fails to find me harms himself; all who hate me love death." (NIV)
Solomon taught that those who find the wisdom of God also obtain the favor of God, those who fail to find God's wisdom also bring harm on to themselves.
There is a great difference between the love of God and His divine favor. God's love is given to the world through his Son, Jesus Christ. There is no action we can take to earn more of His love, but God's favor is conditional, based upon the path we choose through our actions. Do not think that being a Christian guarantees God's favor, His salvation is His free gift, but His favor requires action and faith from us.
I'm convinced that God's favor is a progressive experience determined by the degree of faith we exercise in God (Rom 1:17; 2Cor 3:18). The more we find the wisdom of God found in Jesus Christ the more we enter the favor of God.
Reference: Eph 2:4; John 3:16; 1Cor 13; 1Thess 2:15; 4:1
Now we come to the next concept to be considered. God's desire is to have us walk in blessing with Him - to be His favored ones, but is this favored attitude the normal condition of human nature? Is it the desire of human flesh to walk in God's favor or to favor itself.
Rom 3:10-12 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: (11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. (12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
Rom 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (KJV)
The Bible teaches that "" …there is none that doeth good, no, not one …". There is none who seek after God, or who understand the ways of God, because all have sinned and come short of God's glory.
Prov 18:12 Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility. (KJV)
Jer 17:9 … heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
The normal condition of the human heart is self-serving, and not seeking after God. According to Jeremiah, the Prophet, the heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked (sick)
Rom 8:5-8 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. (6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. (8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. (KJV)
The Bible teaches that the normal condition of the human heart is to be controlled by a carnal (flesh) mind cannot please God, because of its total self-serving nature.
The normal condition of the human heart is the Favor Me attitude
Rom 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin (KJV)
We must never forget that we have resident in us an "Old Man" nature that has a "Favor Me" selfish nature. To the degree we allow ourselves to be crucified with Christ is to the degree we walk in God's blessing.
Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me (KJV)
Gal 5:24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts
Gal 6:14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world (KJV)
Paul clearly understood this principle. He realized that he was crucified with Christ, yet he also realized that Jesus lived in him. The eternal life force of Christ gave him the faith to walk in God's divine blessing.
Paul also understood that those who belonged to Christ have crucified their flesh with affections and lusts; we have a cross working in us. Much of our internal conflict is the result of our resistance to the working of this cross. 1John 1:7 teaches that those who walk in fellowship with Jesus will enjoy the power of His blood cleansing them from all sin.
The blessing of God has a price. Jesus wrestled with great human fear in Gethsemane, and he prayed three times before his fear yielded and he found perfect peace (Mt 26:36-45). Its very important we understand that the favor of God also includes greater responsibility to His Kingdom and obedience to His revealed will.
Matt 7:13-14 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: (14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (KJV)
The blessing of God is not found in seeking material increase, but in seeking the path of the Lord. Jesus used the metaphor of a narrow path to describe the life His followers must live in His presence. Being born-again is the gate to the narrow path of God's blessing. The path of Christ is not a doctrine memorized and confessed, it’s a total life dedicated to Christ and His kingdom. Our church activity in only one small facet of our journey down the narrow path that leads to a blessed life.
Jesus also taught that the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction. We assume that the only destruction being describe by Jesus is the eternal damnation of hell, but this word has another definition.
apoleia (ap-o'-li-a/684); from a presumed derivative of 622; ruin or loss (physical, spiritual or eternal): KJV-- damnable (-nation), destruction, die, perdition, X perish, pernicious ways, waste. 684 apoleia-
Destruction: (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon) 1. destroying, utter destruction; used of vessels 2. a perishing, ruin, destruction a. used of money b. the destruction which consists of eternal misery in hell
Waste/Destruction (Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words)
A. Noun: apoleia (684), "destruction," is translated "waste" in (Mt 26:8; Mk 14:4).
B. Verbs: (1) diaskorpizo (1287), "to scatter abroad," is used metaphorically of "squandering property," (Luke 15:13; 16:1) (2) portheo (4199), "to ravage," is rendered "wasted" in (Gal. 1:13) (3) lumaino (3075), "to outrage, maltreat," is used in the middle voice in (Acts 8:3), of Saul's treatment of the church, RV, "laid waste"
No doubt this Greek word has the application of the eternal misery of hell, but the destruction of hell is only one small portion of this definition. The Greek word also speaks of that which is ruined or lost, or to be scattered abroad. In regards to financial matters this Greek word also has the application of money being squandered.
Consider with me the possibility that Christians can also follow the broad way that leads to destruction (ruin, loss, and squandered opportunities). Are these Christians going to hell? No! Absolutely not! The blood of Christ has redeemed their souls, but the life of religious world conformity has robbed them of the joys found in Christ on the narrow path. We are admonished by Christ to seek first His kingdom (Mt 6:33), therefore we can conclude that the narrow path is the path of the kingdom of God and His Lordship.
Let me reiterate! The blessing of God is not an object to be sought after it’s a narrow path to be followed. We must abide in the cross of Christ in order to enjoy the benefits of God's divine favor and blessing.
Matt 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (KJV)
We seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and the fruit of His divine blessing will be added to us. Why does God bless those who follow His kingdom? Should not blessing be an automatic by-product of the born-again experience? To a certain degree the blessing of God is a natural by-product of new birth, but the depths of His blessing are only found by those who embrace the cross and seek first His kingdom. The reason why God bountifully pours out His blessing on those who seek first His kingdom is found in their changed hearts. When we put the kingdom of God first in our lives we put Him first in our hearts, and the desire of our hearts is for the kingdom, therefore God can give us the desire of our hearts since our hearts are set on Him. (Psa 37:4)
"The greatest blessing God gives is His presence. If I could choose any of life’s blessings, I certainly would not ask for wealth, because wealth cannot bring freedom from pain, concern, or anxiety. I certainly would not ask for popularity, because there is no rest for the world’s leaders. My choice, my highest honor, would be to have God with me always." (Spurgeon)
The great preacher Spurgeon summed up this issue in a few simple words. The greatest blessing we can have is God's holy manifest presence in our lives. We walk in the path of God's blessing when we allow God to walk with us on the path.