A paraphrase of Genesis chapters one through eleven may go something like this: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth, then he created humanity, then it was all downhill from there!” Now there is much theology to be gained from those eleven chapters, but one thing we do notice is a movement away from God and His presence and blessings. It is as if we are determined to not be blessed! Indeed when the violence of humanity reaches a new low God responds with His perfect justice, and a flood wipes out all humanity except Noah and his family. This restart may seem like an ideal time for a turning point, for humanity to turn back to God and his blessings, but sadly following the flood it is the same old same old. With Genesis chapter twelve, however, we do have a significant turning point:
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 12:1-3 NIV)
This turning point in history is not announced with great fanfare, but quietly and privately to one man, Abram, just as often the turning points in our lives come quietly and without much ado. But a turning point it is as God whispers to the world: “Despite your running from me, my presence, and blessings, I will bless.” And so begins a long process that we can see unfolding as we read through the pages of the Bible.
The Blessing of Easter
But there is another ‘downhill’ moment ahead, as Jesus enters Jerusalem with much fanfare and loud “Hosannas” but it is a celebration that will quickly turn to violence. From here on in the desire and intent to do violence against Jesus is on the rise. This increasing violence against Jesus reminds us of the increasing violence of Genesis 1-11, but here again is another turning point. Jesus from the cross says “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34 NIV) and again God whispers “Despite your running from me, my presence, and my blessings, I will bless.” As we keep reading through the Bible we realize that it is what God has done at Easter that takes us through to the final chapters of Revelation. And there, right at the end of the Bible we find things much as there were at the beginning – with people enjoying God’s presence and blessings, with people enjoying God Himself.
The Blessing of the Law
From the perspective of Calvary we see what God meant when he said to Abram “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” but there is more to it than that. We also see blessing from the perspective of Sinai, from the giving of the law.
Many of the Old Testament laws seem quite strange to us today, and we may wonder how they might be in the same sentence as blessing. But we have trouble seeing the blessing of the law due to our perspective. if we take the perspective of someone in ancient times rubbing shoulders with the Israelites, the blessings become more apparent. If you are a widow, it is better to be a widow in Israel, for the widows of Israel were better cared for. If you are in poverty, it is better to be in poverty in Israel, for there are laws on harvesting that ensured food would be shared. If you are a foreigner, it is better to be a foreigner in Israel for the law protected you. If you are a child, it is better to be a child in Israel for Israel’s God condemns the practice of child sacrifice. And so for all the neighbours of Israel, the sons of daughters of Abraham would be consider blessed, the Israelites themselves being a light to the Gentiles just by following the law. The Israelites were blessed to be a blessing.
Being a Blessing
As Christians we are to continue this tradition of being salt and light in the world, by being followers of Jesus. Yes, we are blessed by Jesus and through Jesus, but we are also to be a blessing to others for Him. Indeed study history and we can see how the Christ has impacted individuals, families and entire societies through the ministry of the church in ways that can only be described as blessing. Do you know the blessing of relationship with Jesus? Is your relationship with Jesus a source of blessing for others? In Christ we are blessed to be a blessing.