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Bless you!

In a world of people trying to find themselves, make themselves, and often, fake themselves, we have a God who is not holding back on speaking his blessing over us. 

BIBLICAL PREACHING AUTOR 108/Peter_Mead 02 DE NOVIEMBRE DE 2023 11:00 h
Photo: [link] James Coleman[/link], Unsplash CC0.

A simple Google search will yield hundreds of quotes about how we need to look within, seize each opportunity, and make what we want of our lives



You might get a quote from Invictus, by William Henley, after he had his leg amputated – “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”  Or you might get a quote from Will Smith – “You can create whatever you want.  You just have to know what you want and take the opportunities that come your way.  We are who we choose to be!” 



Whatever the quote might be, the sentiment is consistent – we need to find ourselves or make ourselves!



However, the Bible teaches us a different lesson.  Consider the story of Jacob, for instance. One of the patriarchs, recipients of God’s great promise, and father to the nation of Israel. 



When you read his story in the book of Genesis, it is striking just how many issues, sins, struggles, doubts, fears, and failures he experienced.  Jacob’s story is like a sheet of Velcro, covered in hooks that connect to the weak parts of our lives today.



Jacob’s whole life seems to involve him trying to find himself or make himself, and he never seems to succeed.  We are first introduced to Jacob in Genesis 25.  The first story is of his mother’s difficult pregnancy with two twin boys warring within.  God declared that the older would serve the younger (see v23). 



The promised plan of God would move through the younger son.  And then immediately we read a quick account of Jacob buying his brother Esau’s birthright for a bowl of stew. Esau the stomach-led man.  Jacob the trickster.



Genesis 26 gives us Isaac’s life summary, essentially underlining how Isaac recapitulated much of his father Abraham’s life story.  Then we come to Genesis 27 – the lengthy and strange account of Jacob going after his father’s blessing. 



The lesson in this chapter was an important one for Jacob, and it is an important one for us today: you cannot find yourself or make yourself, you have to let God orchestrate the blessing in your life. 



Indeed, we bring the brokenness, but God brings the blessing.



1. What is “The blessing?” 



The story begins with Isaac deciding to give his dying blessing to Esau (Gen. 27:1-4).  What is the blessing?  We have a weak conception of blessing in our language today. 



[destacate]You cannot find yourself or make yourself, you have to let God orchestrate the blessing in your life [/destacate] We might say, “Bless you!” when someone sneezes (even though that sneeze is no longer the threat of a terrible plague).  We might use it as a vague prayer, “God, please bless all the missionaries and all the little children.”  Or we might use it as a vague reference to nice feelings, “Your encouragement has blessed my heart.”  But Jacob was going after something more significant than that!


The blessing was the life-shaping power of discerning words spoken by a key person at a critical moment.  We know how a throwaway comment from an important adult can mark a child for life. 



Many live with the echo of a nasty comment resonating throughout their life.  Imagine, then, the power of the words of your father as he is preparing to die.  Jacob wanted to hear the blessing of the firstborn from his father’s lips!



2. We cannot bless ourselves 



Jacob craved the blessing, but he could not give it to himself (Gen. 27:5-17).  But instead of trusting God’s plan to be worked out, Rebekah led Jacob in a cunning ruse to confuse Isaac and steal that blessing.  So Jacob dressed up as Esau and went in with the food to deceive his father.



The story feels uncomfortable to read, but, perhaps, that is because we recognize our own human nature in it.  How often do we dress up as someone we are not in order to hear the affirmation that we crave? 



It could be in our work that we pretend to be someone else, or else in our hobbies, in our relationships with others, or even in our church involvement. 



After all, surely we will get the respect we crave if we “have it all together” and make sure we look spiritual, won’t we?



3. It is possible to steal the blessing



Jacob deceived Isaac and got the blessing.  In Genesis 27:18-29, we read the halting and sense-filled account of Jacob’s deception.  Without sight, Isaac tries to rely on his senses of smell, taste, and touch. 



He seems suspicious, and the attempt feels doomed to fail.  But Jacob succeeded.  He finally saw that look on his father’s face and heard the words from his lips.  However . . .



4. A stolen blessing feels empty



In Genesis 27:30-45, we see the fallout from Jacob’s heist. Everyone is hurt.  Isaac knows he tried to go against God and has a broken relationship with both of his sons. 



Esau is so angry he is already plotting a murder.  Rebekah is losing her beloved son, never to see him again.  And Jacob is leaving as a fugitive, broke and fearful. 



What are we to make of this story on a human level? 



It is clear that human identity is not something we can find for ourselves, manufacture, or effectively steal.  We need the blessing of key people who love us, know us, and can discerningly speak the truth of God’s design into our lives. 



On the horizontal level, we have to recognize the power of our words.  The family home is a place where words really count.  If you have others in your family, then you can speak to them of God’s design and plan for them. 



If you have daughters, tell them that they are beautiful and strong.  If you have sons, tell them they are powerful and strong.  Your words count.



The Christian community is a place where words really count.  Each week we are surrounded by others who have probably not heard too many meaningful statements of discernment and blessing. 



And we are surrounded by others who have probably been marked by thoughtless or even cruel comments along the way.  Get to know some people well and speak to them about who God has made them to be.  It is powerful.



What are we to make of this story on the ultimate level?  But the ultimate blessing that we all need is not found in other people, but in God himself.  What does God say of me? 



[destacate]The ultimate blessing that we all need is not found in other people, but in God himself What does God say of me? [/destacate] Praise God that his firstborn son chose to get dressed up in human flesh and take on the curse so that we could be given the blessing of the firstborn.  We don’t deserve it.  We cannot earn it.  We cannot fake it.  But by God’s grace, we are “the church of the firstborn” (Hebrews 12:23). 


In a world of people trying to find themselves, make themselves, and often, fake themselves, we have a God who is not holding back on speaking his blessing over us. 



Let’s learn from Jacob’s example and choose instead to trust God.  What does God say about you?  What does it mean that there is now no condemnation? (Romans 8:1)  What does it mean that I am a child of God? (John 1:12)  What does it mean that we are sealed with the promised Spirit? (Ephesians 1:13)  What does it mean to be part of “the church of the firstborn?” (Hebrews 12:23) 



We bring our brokenness, and by God’s grace, God brings the blessing!



Peter Mead is mentor at Cor Deo and author of several books. He blogs at Biblical Preaching


 

 


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