“The blessing of the LORD makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.” Proverbs 10:22 ESV
Our Lord is the Giver of all blessings. He delights to bless us at every turn. From Genesis, where we learn of God’s first dealings with mankind, to Revelations, where we read of the regeneration and renewal of all things, we see God at work to bless His people. The first thing that God did for Adam and Eve, after He created them, was to bless them (Genesis 1:28). The call of God upon our lives comes with the promise to bless us. In Abraham’s life, we find that even before he had taken his first step of obedience, God came to Him with the promise of a blessing –
The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:1-2 NIV)
Obedience is the key to continued blessing. It is important to understand how this works. We cannot bribe God – even by our obedience – to bless us; and to think that we could, demeans the nature of our relationship with God. Rather His blessing comes to us because we occupy a certain position within His family. As children of the King, the best things in the kingdom naturally belong to us.
When we bind ourselves to God, in trust and obedience, we enter a different dimension. All creation has been under the curse since Adam’s Fall, and sin will continue to influence our world until the final restoration of all things; but we Christians, as citizens of the new, yet eternal kingdom already live under a different system. Our King has the power to continuously bless us and the evil Prince of this world has little power to rob us of this blessedness. True, for a brief period of time, he may be permitted to engage us in battle. To put it differently, as citizens of the Kingdom of Light, we are at war with the Kingdom of darkness; and as in any battle, there will be times when the Prince of Darkness may seem, temporarily, to hold sway.
Still, there is not an area in our lives that can escape His hand of blessing, unless we deliberately choose to exclude Him from it. When the Israelites set out from the land of slavery to the Promised Land, God promised to encompass their lives all around with His blessings –
“You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock… Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed. You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out. The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven. The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you… The Lord will make you the head, not the tail.” (Deuteronomy 28:3-8, 13 NIV)
God’s very presence exudes blessing of every kind. Every good gift comes from Him. The closer we are to God, the more we may enjoy these blessings. Yet, the greatest blessing is His own presence. Moses, once he had encountered God, could not bear to be away from His presence. “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” (Exodus 33:14-15 NIV). He would rather have perished in the wilderness, than be denied the Presence of God.
The blessings promised under the Old Covenant – which has now been fulfilled – have given way to the new. This means the old contract has been concluded, its terms are no longer valid, but a new contract with better terms has been signed. So, under the New Covenant sealed with the blood of the Lamb, we become inheritors of ‘new and better promises’.
But now He [Christ] has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises. Hebrews 8:6 NASB
What are these better promises? First of all, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the church, and He continuously indwells the body of each believer, so we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Out of this first Blessing – God’s presence in us – flow other blessings, which include –
- Knowledge of the truth – “I will put My laws into their minds, and I will write them on their hearts” (Hebrews 8:10 NASB).
- Knowledge of God – “And they shall not teach… everyone his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all will know Me…'” (Hebrews 8:11 NASB).
- Being uniquely God’s people –“I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Hebrews 8:10 NASB).
- Mercy of God – to an unbelievably great measure –“For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12 NASB).
The blessings of the Old Covenant may seem to us to be more tangible and desirable in our earthly state. Yet, these old promises have not vanished, rather they have been subsumed into the new, and they now come to us as part of the parcel of the newer blessings. In practical terms, this means we may be called to lay down some of our claims to the older blessings to access the new, and when we do so, the older ones will be restored to us in a greater measure. The full inheritance and enjoyment of these blessings will, of course, be realised in heaven; but that inheritance will be eternal, not transient.
This concept is sometimes difficult to understand, and there will always be – till the final veil is stripped away and we see Jesus face to face – an element of mystery to it. Nevertheless, it can be experienced by those who choose obedience, to a degree sufficient for us to be convinced of its validity.
For example, consider those “who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them…” (Hebrews 11: 35-38 NIV).
The promises in Deuteronomy may seem to have failed in their lives; yet they did not, for a moment, consider themselves the inheritors of inferior blessings. If they did, then the way was still open to them to renounce Christ and return to world. But living in the very centre of God’s will and choosing to walk in the footsteps of Christ towards Calvary, their view point had shifted from this world to the next. The intimate Presence of God so overwhelmed their beings and the immense blessings of the eternal kingdom completely filled their horizon, that every desire for this world and the older promises had melted away like frost before the rising sun.
The Bible states that ‘the world was not worthy of them’, not the other way round. Even the sorrow of their hour of suffering was subsumed into the joy of meeting their Beloved. Consider the example of Stephen, the first martyr. Just as he was about to be stoned to death, his vision was transformed.
“When they [his executioners] heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. But he [Stephen], being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” (Acts 7:54-56 NIV)
In conclusion, we are called to inherit something greater than we can understand. Just as a baby prince or princess little understands the great things in store for them, our earthly minds are too infantile to fathom the future God has prepared for us. But if we love and trust Him, we will also obey Him, and come to enjoy blessings, which “no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined that God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:( ESV), in this world and the next.
Father, grant us wisdom in this life to value the better promises and the greater blessings of the age to come. Help us walk in obedience and inherit these things, which You so much desire to give us. In Jesus’ name.