Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
The Biblical Blessing and YEHOVAH's Ecclesia
The record of Biblical blessings being spoken over YEHOVAH God's people Israel throughout the Bible is endless; yet -- for some reason -- YEHOVAH's Ecclesia has sadly neglected this Biblical command. It is the duty of every Israelite parent to follow the example laid down by YEHOVAH God and the Messiah to insure that our children will enjoy all the benefits YEHOVAH has in mind for them. The Old Testament fathers expected their blessings to be fulfilled in their children's lives. We, too, must have the same expectation when we accept the challenge to bless our own children.
by HOIM Staff
YEHOVAH God's first act after creating the first humans was to speak a blessing over them. "And God created humankind in His own image...And God blessed them; and God said to them, 'Be fruitful, and multiply..."' (Genesis 1:27-28, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible). YEHOVAH God gave special favor to the line of Adam by imparting the power of fruitfulness to them through the blessing. That action of YEHOVAH God is only the first of many Biblical references where the practice of blessing was observed.
Genesis 9:1 records the blessing of fruitfulness which YEHOVAH God imparted to Noah and his sons after the flood. The thought of fruitfulness is again present when YEHOVAH says to Abraham, "I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will make you exceedingly numerous" (Genesis 17:2, Tanakh). YEHOVAH had already told Abraham that He would bless him (Genesis 12:2b) and that he, in turn, would be a blessing to all the families of the earth.
Melchizedek, king of Salem, spoke a blessing over Abraham following his defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him. Serving Abraham bread and wine -- the symbols of the body and blood of the Messiah -- Melchizedek verbally declared, "Blessed be Abram of God Most High...Who has delivered your foes into your hand" (Genesis 14:19-20a, ibid.). Hebrews 7:1 notes the importance of the act of blessing in which Melchizedek included the giving of bread and wine to Abraham. Hebrews 7:7 develops the experience further by saying, "and it is beyond all dispute that the one who blesses has higher status than the one who receives the blessing" (Jewish New Testament). Melchizedek imparted favor to Abraham through the spoken blessing. In return, Abraham gave one tenth of all he had earned to Melchizedek.
Rebekah received a spoken blessing from her family when she prepared to leave home to be married to Isaac. They said, "O sister! May you grow into thousands of myriads; May your offspring seize the gates of their foes" (Genesis 24:60b, Tanakh). Ruth and Boaz were blessed by their people just before their marriage. In Ruth 4:11, the people imparted the blessing by saying, "We are witnesses. The LORD make the woman who is coming to your house like Rachel and Leah, the two did build the house of Israel; and may you prosper in Ephrathah, and be famous in Bethlehem" (NKJV). When the Messiah was born in Bethlehem, that blessing was fulfilled.
The concept of blessing takes on greater significance in chapter 27 of Genesis. Here, Isaac made preparation to speak a blessing over his oldest son before he died. The occasion was of such importance that it included a meal in which the elderly patriarch was served his favorite dish before speaking the blessing. The significance of the blessing is also evidenced by the fact that the mother Rebekah devised a skillful plan to insure that the blessing was spoken over her younger son, Jacob. The power of the spoken blessing was confirmed by the fact that it was said to be irrevocable once delivered (Genesis 27:33). The strength of the blessing was confirmed when Isaac spoke a second blessing over Jacob before he left to seek a wife (Genesis 28:1-3). When we add to those two blessings a third one -- spoken by YEHOVAH Himself over Jacob during a dream -- we have strong evidence to support the authority of the first blessing spoken by Isaac (Genesis 28:13-15).
Genesis 32:24-30 graphically illustrates the value Jacob placed on the spoken blessing. After wrestling with the Angel of the LORD all night, he declared, "I will not let you go, unless you bless me" (v. 27). The text goes on to say, "And he blessed him there" (v. 29b). YEHOVAH God later gave more support to the life and ministry of Jacob by speaking an additional blessing over him (Genesis 35:9-12). YEHOVAH imparted to him Divine favor to be fruitful, multiply and see his children become kings to the nations of Israel. He also gave Jacob a blessing to succeed materially. Jacob impressed upon Joseph the importance of the blessing by referring to the blessing YEHOVAH God Almighty spoke over him at Luz in the land of Canaan (Genesis 48:3).
The 48th chapter of Genesis is a touching example of the value the Hebrew family placed upon children. Joseph stood his two sons -- Ephraim and Manasseh -- before his father Jacob, who then proceeded to speak a blessing over them. Verse 15 indicates that Joseph was blessed as his father began to speak the blessing over his sons. When Jacob said, "By you shall Israel invoke blessings, saying, God make you like Ephraim and as Manasseh" (Genesis 48:20, Tanakh), he instituted a practice of blessing children which is still observed today. Those tender moments with Joseph and his sons were followed with a formal gathering of the twelve sons of Jacob -- during which time Jacob spoke blessings over all of them before he died.
Jacob's blessings spoken to his twelve sons in Genesis 49 constitutes a series of tribal blessings in which all the members of each tribe received the blessing given to their leader. A similar ritual was observed by Moses just before his death as recorded in Deuteronomy 33.
The Priestly Blessing
YEHOVAH's concern for the welfare of His people Israel is highlighted in Numbers 6:22-27 when He commanded Moses to teach Aaron and his sons to bless the sons of Israel. He then gave Moses a three-part blessing -- which He required to be spoken over His people Israel each time they assembled together. Known among the Judahite people as the "High Priestly Blessing", it was expected to invoke the blessings of YEHOVAH God Himself when it was spoken. In Leviticus 9:22 Aaron lifted his hands toward the people and blessed them. The words Aaron spoke were the same as those found in Numbers 6:24-26:
"The LORD bless you, and keep you;
The LORD make His face shine on you,
And be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance on you,
And give you peace."
The positive effect of the community blessing was to be felt throughout the twelve tribes of Israel as they settled in the land of promise. In like manner, blessings which Israelite parents speak over their family should affect every area of family life. David said: "For the sake of my brothers and my friends, I will now say, 'may peace be within you'. For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your good" (Psalm 122:8-9). David did seek the good of his people Israel as demonstrated by his desire to bless them in the name of the LORD after he had brought the ark back into Jerusalem (II Samuel 6:18).
The New Testament offers evidence that the practice of blessing was common among the Judahite people and was continued in the life of the early ecclesia. The Messiah began his three year ministry with his disciples with a series of blessings. The so-called beatitudes listed in Matthew 5 are a series of blessings accompanied by corresponding rewards. The disciples eventually experienced everything the Messiah spoke over them in Matthew 5.
The Messiah went further in expressing the idea of blessing in Matthew 5:13 and 14. He said to his disciples, "Ye are the salt of the earth" and "Ye are the light of the world." At that time, the disciples were neither of those things -- yet the Messiah said that they were. Some of them had serious character defects which would take time to correct. They were unregenerated men who would not know the joy of receiving a full measure of the holy spirit until after the crucifixion and resurrection of the Messiah. Many of their old habits -- such as Peter denying Yeshua and cursing during Yeshua's trial -- were still unbroken. In spite of all that, the Messiah was able to bless them by declaring them to be effective witnesses in the nations of Israel. The act of speaking that kind of success over their lives was a blessing which certainly became a reality.
The Messiah again demonstrated his confidence in the power of the blessing when he blessed Israelite children. Mark 10:1b states that "He took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them." What did the Messiah say to the children when he blessed them? We can expect that he spoke encouragement to them about their futures, adding the words of Jacob in Genesis 48:20b, "God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh". Most certainly he spoke life and encouragement to them. The same would hold true of the content of the Messiah's speech when he lifted up his hands and blessed the people as he ascended into heaven (Luke 24:50). His commitment to the principle of blessing could not be more intensely declared and less understood than in his words in Luke 6:28 -- "Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you."
The same attitude is carried forward in the writing of the Apostle Paul when he says, "Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not" (Romans 12:14). Peter gave added support to the concept of blessing when he encouraged the believers to not return evil for evil, or insult for insult and he said they were to give a blessing instead; for they were called for the very purpose that they might inherit a blessing.
Such evidence in both the Old and the New Testaments leaves little doubt that YEHOVAH God has planned for the blessing to be used to impart life to those of Israel who receive it. Israelite parents who learn to impart the blessing to their children on a regular basis can hope to see very positive results in their lives. As one father in New England said, "My children have seen so much good coming to them since I began to speak a blessing over their lives that they would not think of leaving for school without receiving a blessing."
How Valuable is Your Child?
No one can place a value on your children. They are priceless gifts from YEHOVAH God, described in the Bible as "olive plants round about thy table" (Psalm 128:3b). King David was shown that his covenant children would sit upon his throne forever (Psalm 132:12c). That promise of blessing from YEHOVAH God was fulfilled in the birth of the Messiah -- and continues to be realized in the royal houses of Europe and Britain today.
Satan sees covenant children of Israel as the greatest threat to his plans -- he does not want children to come under the covenant blessings of YEHOVAH God. That can be seen in his efforts to destroy men like Moses during their infancy. If Satan had succeeded in destroying them, he would have blocked YEHOVAH's plans for Israel's redemption. Seeing YEHOVAH's plan for the deliverance of the children of Israel embodied in the life of the child Moses, he prompted Pharaoh to kill all the firstborn males (Exodus 1 and 2). Knowing that eternal redemption rested in the life and death of the Messiah, Satan tempted him right after he was baptized by John (Matthew 4:1-11).
What if he had succeeded in cutting off these two servants of YEHOVAH God? The redemption of Israel would have been aborted. Failing to impart to Israelite children the blessings of YEHOVAH God helps to assure Satan that he can foil YEHOVAH's plans for them. YEHOVAH God has something special that He wants to accomplish through children of Israelite parents. He has placed them in the care of parents to nurture and train for the fulfillment of that purpose. Satan knows that and he will do everything in his power to prevent the Israelite parents from imparting life to their children through the spoken blessing.
The following information will give great hope to such parents who are concerned about the spiritual health of their children. YEHOVAH God has given a very clear plan in the Bible for imparting blessings to Israelite children. Parents who read this article will have a command of Scriptural principles which will help them effectively impart blessings to their children.
Israelite Children -- A Sign of the Covenant
Noah and his sons received a blessing from YEHOVAH God following the flood. Genesis 9:1 says, "And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase, and fill the earth'" (Tanakh). Noah and his sons could not be fruitful and multiply without having children. YEHOVAH made it clear to them that the bringing forth of offspring would be a part of the covenant He was establishing with them. "I now establish My covenant with you and with your offspring to come" (Genesis 9:9, ibid.).
YEHOVAH's covenant blessing spoken to Abraham began to express the redemptive nature of the covenant which He was establishing: "I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will make you exceedingly numerous" (Genesis 17:2, ibid.). YEHOVAH's plan of perpetuating His covenant through the children of Israel was first introduced to Abraham. Abraham's faith in YEHOVAH's promise rested on the confidence that his own child was an integral part of YEHOVAH's plan. Isaac was his covenant child. The Abrahamic promise included the promise of offspring and the promise of blessing for Abraham. "All the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your descendants, because you have obeyed My command" (Genesis 22:18, ibid.). The multiplication of offspring was an important part of YEHOVAH God's covenant with both Isaac (Genesis 26:4) and Jacob (Genesis 28:14).
The promises in the Davidic covenant are similar to those YEHOVAH made with Abraham. In II Samuel 7:11-12, David is promised offspring through whom YEHOVAH God will establish the house of David forever. David was conscious of the fact that it was the favor of YEHOVAH God that would bring about the blessings upon his household. "Be pleased, therefore, to bless your servant's house, that it abide before You forever; for You, O LORD GOD, have spoken. May Your servant's house be blessed for ever by Your blessing" (II Samuel 7:29, Tanakh). The future of YEHOVAH's people extended far beyond the life of David, resting on the concept of covenant children coming after him.
It is through Israelite children that YEHOVAH God plans to continue the redemptive benefits of the covenant. The promise of children is common to all the covenants YEHOVAH has made with Israel. Each time you look at your children remember that they are a sign that YEHOVAH God has not nullified His promise. The prophet Malachi taught that the sign that the covenant blessings were being poured out upon YEHOVAH's people Israel was that "the heart of the fathers were turned to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers...." (Malachi 4:6).
YEHOVAH's covenant plan for the redemption of His people Israel has not changed. He will continue His work through Israelite children who have been blessed and confirmed in the faith. The LORD has ordained that Israelite parents will perpetuate His redemptive work by imparting blessing to their children and teaching them to do the same for their children. Thus YEHOVAH God has placed great value upon the life of Israel's children. They are His plan for tomorrow, that through them the life of the Messiah can be given to all of Israel.
Educating Israelite Parents How to Bless
Satan is doing everything in his power to cut the children of Israel off from the blessings of YEHOVAH God -- just as he attempted to do so by plotting the death of Moses and the Messiah. His efforts are again falling short as Israelite parents learn the value of their children in the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God. Parents educated in YEHOVAH's plan for imparting the blessing will learn to bless daily -- expecting the favor of YEHOVAH God to rest upon their children.
The patriarchs of the Old Testament went to great length to impart blessings to their children. Some Israelite fathers have continued the tradition, speaking special blessings over their children weekly. Their children have enjoyed the benefits of such commitment to YEHOVAH's command to bless. That is how the benefits of YEHOVAH's favor are passed on from one generation to another.
Unfortunately, YEHOVAH's Ecclesia has, for the most part, failed to develop a serious practice of blessing children. That should be very pleasing to Satan. If he can distract parents from those responsibilities -- or keep them ignorant of the power resting in the blessing -- he can interrupt the plan of YEHOVAH God for raising up a covenant people for Himself.
The New Testament Blessing
Blessing in the New Testament falls under two main categories having to do with redemption and the imparting of Divine favor. Paul says in Galatians 3:13-14 that "the Messiah redeemed us from the curse pronounced in the Torah by becoming cursed on our behalf; for the Tanakh says, 'Everyone who hangs from a stake comes under a curse.' Yeshua the Messiah did this so that in union with him the Gentiles might receive the blessing announced to Avraham, so that through trusting and being faithful, we might receive what was promised, namely, the spirit" (Jewish New Testament). A special blessing comes to those of Israel who receive the Messiah into their lives by faith. The curse which prevented people from receiving this blessing was broken when the Messiah was crucified. Now any person of Israel who calls upon the name of the Messiah and obeys the commandments can be saved, receiving the blessing YEHOVAH God promised Abraham. That is the first and most vital meaning of the blessing in the New Testament.
The second form of blessing -- mentioned in the New Testament -- is the one which has been neglected and, sometimes, never taught in YEHOVAH's Ecclesia. It is that blessing which commands the attention of this article. In Mark 10:16 we are told, "And he took them [children] in his arms, laid his hands on them, and made a b'rakhah [blessing] over them" (ibid.). All the synoptic gospels record this incident, catching the interest of discerning parents to the action of the Messiah. Why did the Messiah lay his hands on children and bless them? What did he say to them? We can believe that he said some of the same things that Judahite fathers have said to their children for centuries when they blessed them. He did it because the spoken blessing imparted special favor from YEHOVAH God upon the children of Israel. If that is not the case -- then why did the Messiah perform a ritual which has no purpose?
The Messiah saw merit in speaking a blessing over those he loved. Luke's gospel records an interesting event in the ministry of the Messiah. In Luke 24:50-51 Luke says, "And he led them out as far as Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven." The last act of the Messiah toward his disciples was to speak a blessing over them. As he was speaking that blessing with his hands lifted after the fashion of the priests, he rose into the clouds. You can almost see him rising with his hands outstretched speaking life, peace and success over his people Israel.
The apostle Peter carried the principle of blessing over into his teaching. In I Peter 3:8-9 he says, "Finally, all of you, be one in mind and feeling; love as brothers; and be compassionate and humble-minded, not repaying evil with evil or insult with insult, but on the contrary, with blessing. For it is to this that you have been called, so that you may receive a blessing" (ibid.). We are called to give blessings. That is the whole point of this article.
Why Should You Bless Your Children?
Blessing children accomplishes much more than merely encouraging them in their daily lives. That was seen by the parents of Jonathan who was not passing in school. Jonathan had failed the Seventh grade the previous year. Now he had brought home his first report card with all failing grades for his second year around in the same grade. The attentive parents had held conferences with the school officials, punished Jonathan and even attempted to encourage change by offering rewards. They were careful to see that Jonathan was in Bible School and church each Sabbath. In spite of all their sincere efforts, nothing was working for them.
In desperation they appealed to their pastor for prayer. Perhaps YEHOVAH God would do something to turn Jonathan's life around. When the pastor offered to teach them the Biblical principles of blessing, they readily accepted. Soon they were applying the Biblical plan of blessing to Jonathan's life, laying hands on him daily and speaking success into every area where he had failed. Jonathan's attitudes began to change. He completed the Seventh grade level that year with high scores and moved on to the next level where he continued to succeed. Similar cases to that of Jonathan have been experienced where Israelite parents have learned the value of blessing their children, devoting the time necessary to learn how to bless. Their diligence in imparting blessing has paid off for their children.
YEHOVAH God obviously had something special in mind for His people when He commanded Moses and Aaron to bless the children of Israel. There is no wasted motion in the activities of YEHOVAH God -- He does not institute rites as a matter of form. There is a purpose behind every movement and command of YEHOVAH God. Every activity He institutes produces life at a higher level when it is observed.
Practicing the high priestly blessing in Numbers 6:22-27 was the vehicle YEHOVAH God obviously desired to use so that He could bless His people Israel. First, YEHOVAH expected Aaron and his sons to obey His command and speak the priestly blessing over the people. Then YEHOVAH said that -- as they invoked His name -- He would be present in the blessing to impart blessing to them. "And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them."
Aaron and his sons were to invoke (engage, put into action, the life that flows from the Name and spirit of YEHOVAH God) and YEHOVAH would be present, imparting life to those who received the spoken blessing. That is the way YEHOVAH God chose to impart something of Himself to His people Israel. The Messiah continued to use the rite of blessing to impart life to his Israelite followers. The Apostle Peter says that believers are to do the same thing (I Peter 3:9). Even the experience of receiving the holy spirit comes about through the spoken blessing. Romans 10: 8-10 says, "But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." The person believes the Word and speaks life over himself by confessing that the Messiah is the first-born Son of YEHOVAH God. What he speaks in faith becomes a reality in his life. He blesses himself and the blessing of YEHOVAH God is invoked in the power of the holy spirit to give the person new life in the Messiah. The fact is that everything the Israelite man ever receives from YEHOVAH God he receives by the spoken word. Even faith comes by hearing the Word of YEHOVAH God.
An old Jewish fable tells of a rabbi who questioned YEHOVAH God one day about the high priestly blessing. "Why should I bless your people when you can do it so much better?" he asked. YEHOVAH replied that He commanded the rabbi to bless, but that He was present in the blessing, imparting life to His people. Parents who understand that YEHOVAH God is present in the blessing when they speak it over their children, will be more faithful to engage in the practice of speaking blessing over them every day.
The high priestly blessing -- in Numbers 6:24-26 -- was invoked at the end of worship when the community was about to be dismissed. The Israelite people were to carry the benefits of the blessing with them into their homes and their work. The effect of the blessing was to be felt in every area of their lives -- their character, their community relationships and their relationship to YEHOVAH God.
The building of godly character in YEHOVAH's people Israel is one of the benefits which can be expected when children receive the blessing imparted to them by their parents. So it was with Jonathan who was mentioned earlier. Jonathan began to receive new motivation to apply himself to his studies. Instead of being distracted and slothful, he became alert and attentive to the important matters in his life. His old problem had nothing to do with any learning disability. Jonathan's character changed when his parents began to impart life to him through the blessing -- and so did his grades.
YEHOVAH God spoke of the blessing to Abraham within the context of the established covenant He was making with him. The LORD's first words to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3 relate the blessing to covenant practices. YEHOVAH relates to His people Israel on the basis of covenants. All of YEHOVAH's activity in history is expressed through covenants. YEHOVAH guaranteed His promises with Abraham through a covenant. Thus, when the LORD says, "And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing" (Genesis 12:2), He was relating the promised blessings to the covenant He was making with Abraham.
The Messiah also related the blessing to a covenant when he said in Luke 22:29, "And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me;". The word, "appointed", stems from the word for covenant in the Greek. Therefore, the Messiah is saying that just as the Father had covenanted to him a kingdom, so he was covenanting to his disciples a kingdom. That kingdom would be one in which the blessings of YEHOVAH God would be imparted to His children. The Messiah came in covenant with the Father to pass on those blessings to his disciples in covenant with them. He accomplished that fact and released a blessing through his crucifixion.
Paul expands on the concept of covenants and blessings in Galatians 3:13-14, when he says, "Christ hath redeemed us [of Israel] from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles [10 tribes in dispersion] through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."
Israelite parents who commit themselves to begin to bless their children can do so with confidence knowing that they are in covenant with YEHOVAH God through the blood of the Messiah. YEHOVAH has established the bringing forth of offspring as a part of every covenant He has made with the Adamic line -- from Adam to Abraham, Moses and King David. The recognition that Israelite children are a gift of YEHOVAH God and a sign that YEHOVAH keeps a covenant with every generation of Israel helps to give confidence to parents when they prepare to impart blessings to their children on a regular basis. YEHOVAH God never planned for children to be deprived of the blessing which was to be imparted to them through their parents and the religious leaders of His Ecclesia.
Recognizing the blessing as YEHOVAH's way of bringing the covenant into active play upon the lives of their Israelite children is one of the great responsibilities of parents. Knowledge of the power of the blessing -- and YEHOVAH's plan for using it -- will encourage concerned parents to bless their children. As parents then understand how the future of their children often hangs upon their willingness to bless, they will devote themselves to learning how to impart the blessing. "I never realized just how powerful the blessing could be", one mother said, "until I began to speak blessings over my hyperactive child. I see changes taking place as I bless him every day with peace, self-control and unselfish love for others."
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