Here is another extracts from The Glory of the Story, my father’s devotional introduction to biblical theology in the form of 366 daily readings which show how the Old Testament story is fulfilled in Christ. The Glory of the Story is available as a Kindle book for $2.99 from amazon.com and £1.99 from amazon.co.uk. I’m posting extracts from the chaper on the story of Jacob, usually on the first Monday of the month.
The passing of blessing from father to son may appear to us not only strange, but suspicious. It seems a rather arbitrary procedure that carries overtones of magic. So we need to step back and see how the concept of blessing fits into the overall picture stretching from creation to new creation.
1. Blessing in the book of Genesis
Though God blessed man and woman at creation (Gen. 1:28), the curse due to sin dominated primeval history (Gen. 3:14, 17; 4:11; 5:29; 9:25). The five-fold curse of Genesis 1-11 is mirrored in the five references to blessing at the call of Abraham (Gen. 12:2-3). This was a fresh start and indicated God’s determination to bless (protect and prosper) his people. From Abraham to the formation of Israel, the covenant blessing passes down the line of promise – from Abraham to Isaac (not Ishmael; Gen. 17:19-21; 21:12) and from Isaac to Jacob (not Esau; Gen. 27:33). The blessing may seem automatic, but God is actually being invoked to act (Gen. 28:3-4) and the promise serves to motivate an appropriate lifestyle (Gen. 18:19).
2. Blessing in the nation of Israel
Jacob’s twelve sons (tribes) eventually form the nation of Israel. God enters into a covenant relationship with Israel, governed by the blessings for obedience and the curses for disobedience recorded in Deuteronomy 28. Problems arise when Israel assumes God’s blessing is automatic and neglect their relationship with him. From Israel’s failure and eventual exile emerges the promise of a new covenant.
3. Blessing under the new covenant
Under the new covenant, the blessing promised to Abraham comes to Jews and Gentiles through Christ who redeems us from the curse of the law (Gal. 3:8-14). The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is now revealed as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us … with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph. 1:3). Some of these blessings are received immediately and once-for-all at conversion (e.g. forgiveness, justification, adoption). Others are potentially ours in Christ but experienced only through humility, hunger, holiness and hostility (Matt. 5:3-10).
4. Blessing throughout eternity
Only when Jesus returns will sin’s curse be finally removed (Rev. 22:3) and God’s people be fully blessed (Rev. 14:13; 19:9; 22:14). With new bodies on a new earth we will know God personally (Rev. 21:3-4), see Christ and be like him (1 John 3:2). Wow!
What are we asking when we pray for God to bless people? Ponder Ephesians 1:3.