The promise of blessings
The subject of "blessings" is hard to swallow when you might be one of those in the throes of a home foreclosure, or you were just laid off or just had a car repossessed, or have struggled for years at low income with no sign of light at the end of the tunnel. What part of your pain, anger, sadness, hurt, or misery can you, in these circumstances, consider a "blessing"?
The answer lies in our interpretation of "being blessed." You, like most people, probably equate "blessing" with "well being", delight, or even joy; and society in general does seem to equate "success" with "being blessed". And if you currently have no "joy" or "success" in your life, you might be inclined to blame others or worse, your first impulse is to blame God (Yahweh).
In our society there is also the artificial and connived connection of "blessings" to wealth and success espoused by especially charismatic "evangelical pastors" who spread their (very false) "name it and claim it" (prosperity theology) which espouses that "God wants to bless you!" Please examine the nonsensical off-the-mark teachings of teachers such as Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copland, Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn, and others. You will soon find they are the only ones "prospering" from their theologies! Every one of them live extravagant and excessive lifestyles from their "ministries". And how do you think their "blessings" are derived? Does Yahweh have a direct deposit to their bank accounts? No, their "blessings" come from the hard-earned money of the throngs of their clueless followers who blindly fall for their "name it and claim it" drivel. Show us ONE person who, starting from poverty, has become wealthy and "blessed" by following this "claim prosperity" nonsense!
Prosperity follows not the demand for it, but rather your obedience to Yahweh without the expectation of it! But to make matters worse, all around us are very successful, wealthy people who are as "crooked as a dog's hind leg," yet for all practical purposes appear to be far more blessed than us! How is it that crooked people are so "blessed" while you aren't?
So it is that the subject of blessings is a most difficult topic to address. In this article, the object is to convey a true understanding of what it means to be blessed, how to separate events and decisions in your life from true blessings from Yahweh, and how to understand exactly what blessings are when confronted with life's setbacks.
Real blessings are obtainable only through simple obedience to Yahweh, as He petitions all who choose to follow Him! (See Deuteronomy 28:1-12.) We want to drive home this simple truth while not conveying the erroneous expectation that obedience to Yahweh will bring blessings! One cannot go into a faith relationship with Yahweh on the grounds of any expectation that you will then be blessed! That would be very, very wrong! Yet at the same time, there are countless examples of those who have been blessed beyond their wildest dreams and behind their blessings lies their faithful obedience without any expectation of return or gain! This is truly a dichotomy! To be blessed requires obedience to Yahweh, but obedience to Yahweh does not automatically bring blessings! (It depends on the intent of your heart!)
So what do you do?
First and foremost start reading and studying the Bible. There is no other way you will learn about Yahweh, who He is, and what He wants from you. No amount of Sunday church-going, talking to others, or walking around with "Torah written on your heart" (Jeremiah 31:33-34; Romans 10:4-8) is going to improve your knowledge of and relationship with Yahweh except to get into the Bible and read it for yourself. (Only then will "church-going" and talking with others have any real benefit to you. As a Christian, many don't realize it, but you are actually commanded to read and study the Word (see Deuteronomy 6:6-7). And we're not talking just the Brit Chadasha (New Testament) here! You must read the Tanach (Old Testament) to learn about Yahweh, and then read the Brit Chadasha to understand how the Messiah's promised death allowed you to gain eternal life. Together, both "testaments" reveal what Yahweh expects of you. This is not a digression; in the process of actually studying the Word, you will begin to understand blessings and how blessings are received.
Not convinced yet?
There are countless Christian denominations, each of which claims to have all the answers to are "doing it right." But let's take a look at Catholicism, which has some really strange customs. For instance, parishioners are required to sit before a Priest and confess their sins, saying: "Bless me Father for I have sinned". Can anyone honestly answer as to why we should be blessed when we've sinned? Nowhere in the Bible will you find any requirement or even suggestion to ask Yahweh (or any man for that matter) "to be blessed" because you have sinned! Furthermore, nowhere in the Bible will you find any suggestion that you must go through some intermediary to talk to Yahweh! (Really! Try it right now! Close your eyes and ask Yahweh for wisdom [see James 1:5]. Any problem? Did the "priest police" show up at your door because you prayed directly to Yahweh? No? That's because it really is okay to talk directly to Him!)
We must also ask: "If you have sinned, where in the Bible does it say that sin is forgiven by some man telling you to repeat some litany and telling you he (the priest) absolves you of your sin?" Nowhere in the Bible will you find any scriptures declaring such a thing! You cannot be "blessed" for sinning! So one of the first things you are going to have to do in your quest is to stop sinning! When Moshe and Aharon blessed the people of Israel in Leviticus 9:22-24, the blessing was not because they all had just sinned; rather, the blessing on the people was because they had all just participated in a holy event and they had all been demonstrating obedience to Yahweh throughout the entire week of the consecration of Aharon as their cohen (priest).....
Please look at Leviticus 10:1-2 where you will find two of Aharon's sons bringing "unauthorized fire" to the ceremony. This, in Yahweh's eyes, was a huge sin! Not only was it a sin, but it was a sin committed by two of the very people who had just spent an entire week learning how to be holy and how to please Yahweh. Did Yahweh "bless" them for sinning? NO! He killed them on the spot! (He didn't do this to be mean; He did it to show that people are NOT to veer from His commands!
So when you start reading the entire Bible, you'll find it is left as an exercise for the reader to determine 1) just what Yahweh asks of us, and 2) just what determines "sin."
Let's turn now to those who are "as crooked as a dog's leg," yet are rolling in the dough (i.e. "blessed"). In case you have not figured it out, the phrase "crooked as a dog's leg" is a colloquialism for "lying, cheating, scumbag." (You know many of them, they are serving you and me in Congress this very moment!) How is it that a lying, cheating scumbag can be so blessed? The short answer is they are not! In their earthly presence, they may be wealthy and successful as measured against society, indeed they may represent everything you wish you had.
But there it all stops. When they die, they leave it all behind. In eternity, they join the throngs of "dogs" outside the gate of the Kingdom (see Revelation 22:15). You see, the enemy (Satan) will use power, success, and wealth to lure us from obedience to Yahweh. This tactic works very well on many people! Evil people will often be very visibly wealthy and successful in the illusion that their path in life is correct because Satan knows it is so covetous in our lives. Even Yeshua (Jesus) was tempted by Satan to succumb to this powerful human desire. (See the Gospels, Matthew 4:1-11 for example.) Yeshua did not accept Satan's offer; but many humans do. As a result, many appear to be blessed beyond belief, and this lures still others into the life Satan desires for them. So don't confuse earthly success and wealth with being "blessed." What appears to be "blessings" may be in fact a ruse. So don't compare the circumstances of others to your own.
Furthermore, blessings follow those where Yahweh is welcome. Turn to 2 Samuel chapter 6 and study carefully verses 1-11. Whose house welcomed the ark of Yahweh and who was blessed?
Which brings us to you. Is Yahweh welcome in your home? Look back at the very beginning of this article. Are you one of those in the throes of a home foreclosure, or you were just laid off or just had a car reposessed, or have struggled for years at low income with no signs of light at the end of the tunnel? During your quest for material things, was Yahweh welcome in your home? When you began to lose everything, was the fault Yahweh's? Satan's? Or is it yours? Face it. Have you been obedient to Yahweh? Are you in your current situation by your choice or Yahweh's? What part of your situation is the result of your pursuit of money? Or "keeping up with the Joneses"? It that Yahweh's fault?
Where you are in this world is entirely based on decisions you made. Yahweh gave you one choice; Satan gave you another. Nevertheless, you had the choice. Look back on all the decisions you've ever made. Which were based on your personal desire for gain, and which were based on knowledge of right and wrong and what Yahweh would have wanted? So who is to blame? Remember, Aharaon's sons were killed because they made a decision to go with their own desires rather than with what Yahweh himself taught them was holy.
I'd say Aharon's sons were punished for their disobedience wouldn't you? But would Yahweh punish us today for willful disobedience? Could we mistake such punishment for the absence of blessings in our lives? You know Satan would intentionally lead you astray for his gain, yet you would refuse to believe that Yahweh would punish you for failing to obey Him? After all, you've been taught all your life that "God is love". Well, contrary to popular belief, that's only partly true. Yahweh is not just "love"; He is the Creator who gave us some rules to follow. And when we don't follow His rules, the result can be disastrous for us. Love is certainly an aspect of the Creator but He expects his creation to obey Him, just as you expect your children to obey you.
Here is a sobering example: When Yahweh chose Moshe to lead Israel out of Egypt, it was because Moshe was a righteous man. Moshe lived by Yahweh's guidance (see Exodus 3). By the time Moshe had led the people through the desert, he (Moshe) was very concerned that Yahweh, who was extremely upset with the stubborn, disobedient people, would not stay with them as they moved on toward the promised land. So Moshe begged for Yahweh to go with them (Exodus 33:12-16). Just how did Yahweh respond? Yahweh agreed to go with Israel, but he admonished Moshe saying: "I show favor to whomever I will, and I display grace to whomever I will." (Exodus 33:19).
Wow! Moshe was not in charge! And neither are you! Yahweh was not just talking to Moshe there in the desert. His statement is as true and applicable to you and me today as it was to Moshe and the Israelites during the time of the exodus. Yahweh will show favor to whomever He will, and display grace to whomever He will! Think about that! No "I'm saved because I believe in Jesus so I'm going to Heaven" mantra will change this! No "God is grace" Christian drivel will change this! If you continue disobeying Yahweh even after you learn exactly what He asks of you, you cannot expect "grace" from Yahweh or to be "saved" for that matter! (Truly! If you keep on sinning, Yeshua's death for you holds no meaning! (Hebrews 10:26))
Even Moshe ended up disappointing Yahweh by his willful disobedience and Moshe did not get to see the promised land. Does this mean you have no hope? Absolutely not! It means that beginning now, at this very moment, commit yourself to learning what Yahweh wants from you and then make every effort to do that. As you read through the Bible it will become clear. You will see what Yahweh asks of you and you will see just what your gifts are in that pursuit. Everyone who chooses to obey has a different gift, and not all spiritual gifts are for everyone (1 Cor 12:1-11).
You are part of a chosen people. Whether you are of the "original" chosen (the Jews) or of the "grafted-in" (gentile), there is only one way to be blessed. This is most clearly stated in Deuteronomy 10:12: "So now, Isra'el, all Yahweh your God asks from you is to fear Yahweh your God, follow all his ways, love him and serve Yahweh your God with all your heart and all your being." Please read the below with a heart of desire and the help of the Holy Spirit, and then compare these verses with your own life situation....
Deuteronomy 10: 12 "So now, Isra'el, all that ADONAI your God asks from you is to fear ADONAI your God, follow all his ways, love him and serve ADONAI your God with all your heart and all your being; 13 to obey, for your own good, the mitzvot and regulations of ADONAI which I am giving you today. 14 See, the sky, the heaven beyond the sky, the earth and everything on it all belong to ADONAI your God. 15 Only ADONAI took enough pleasure in your ancestors to love them and choose their descendants after them -yourselves -above all peoples, as he still does today. 16 Therefore, circumcise the foreskin of your heart; and don't be stiffnecked any longer!
17 For ADONAI your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, mighty and awesome God, who has no favorites and accepts no bribes. 18 He secures justice for the orphan and the widow; he loves the foreigner, giving him food and clothing. 19 Therefore you are to love the foreigner, since you were foreigners in the land of Egypt. 20 You are to fear ADONAI your God, serve him, cling to him and swear by his name. 21 He is your praise, and he is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things, which you have seen with your own eyes. 22 Your ancestors went down into Egypt with only seventy people, but now ADONAI your God has made your numbers as many as the stars in the sky!
If your current circumstances have you in a pickle of debt, sadness, pain, anger, or agony, stop and ask yourself: "Have I been obedient to Yahweh or have I been going after my own desires - or worse following Satan's desires?" The minute you change your ways, and choose obedience to Yahweh, you will begin seeing changes in your life - true blessings. As you do this (i.e., begin to examine your situation and your thought processes), DO NOT decide to start obeying Yahweh just to test Him to see if he will begin blessing you! If you are only testing Yahweh, you will lose! Your obedience must be from your heart and without expectation as to the desired outcome, for the outcome is His decision, not yours.
And finally, if you are one of those who think none of the Old Testament teachings apply to you because you have been taught "it was all done away with and all I have to do is believe in 'Jesus'", then please contemplate the following words of the Messiah Yeshua Himself:
i>"And he opened his mouth and was teaching them and said,
Blessed are they who are poor in spirit, because theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed are they who are mourning, because they will be comforted.
Blessed are they who are meek because they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness because they will be satisfied.
Blessed are they who are merciful because mercies will be upon them.
Blessed are they who are pure in their hearts because they will see Elohim.
Blessed are they who make peace because they will be called the sons of Elohim.
Blessed are they who are persecuted because of righteousness because theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed are you whenever they curse you and they persecute you and they say every evil word about you falsely because of me. Then rejoice and be glad because your reward in heaven is great for likewise they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
Does this sound like Yeshua was providing anything new that was not taught from the Old Testament to those who came before Him? Who hunger for righteousness? Who are the pure in heart? Who will see Yahweh? The disobedient?
As mentioned above, the first step to understanding "blessings" is to read the Bible for yourself. You will find as the story unfolds that there is an ending. The ending does not include any part of your earthly stature or your personal holdings measured as "wealth". None of this goes with you. But the ending is exactly what is important. So if you want to be part of those survivors who are "inside the gates" (Revelation 22:14), a part of the Kingdom of Yahweh (Luke 4:43), AND enjoying blessings during your earthly existence (Luke 11:28), start dedicating your heart to the pure an honest willful obedience Yahweh asks of you and stop your current blame-game. Note that both citations from Luke reference the very words of the Messiah, in whom, up till now, you believed "all I have to do is believe...."
Yes, blessings are tied to obedience from the beginning to the end of the Bible - Genesis to Revelation:
Abraham is told in Genesis 12:2-3 "I will make of you a great nation, I will bless you, and I will make your name great; and you are to be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, but I will curse anyone who curses you; and by you all the families of the earth will be blessed."
You are told in Revelation 1:3 "Blessed is he that reads, and they who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep the things that are written in it; for the time is near."
If you want to start experiencing real blessings, commit yourself to simple obedience to Yahweh.