Seeking the Blessing in the Midst of a Perverse and Crooked Nation
“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).”
The Old Testament abounds with promises of blessing. The word occurs over 600 times in the Old Testament alone. This major theme of Holy Scripture is related to a word, which means “to kneel.” This is altogether fitting, since in earlier times one would kneel to receive a blessing. The summation of the word blessing is to be favored by God.
Noah Webster’s 1828 first edition dictionary defines blessing as:
1. A declaration of divine favor, or an invocation imploring divine favor on some or something; a benediction; a wish of happiness pronounces. This is the blessing, where with Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel. Deut. xxxiii. 1. 2. A means of happiness; that which promotes prosperity and welfare; a beneficent gift. Nature’s full blessings would be well dispensed. -Milton. 3. A gift. [A Hebraism] Gen. xxxiii. 11. 4. Grateful praise or worship
Three prominent themes concerning blessing are revealed in the Old Testament. First, the greater blesses the lesser. This is a truth mentioned by the writer of Hebrews to demonstrate the superiority of Melchizedek to Abraham (Hebrews 7:6-7). This would certainly be true as the blessing of God upon man is far greater than man’s feeble attempts to bless God (Psalm 50:12). Second, the blessing was a sign of special favor. God’s blessing rewarded obedience, which resulted in godly success (Deuteronomy 28:3-7). Third, the blessing was in all actuality an invocation for God’s blessing: “May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful (Genesis 28:3).”
The first mention of the word bless in Holy Writ is rightly discovered in the book of Genesis, the book of origins. It is mentioned in context with the creation of the heavens and the earth. What the Lord crafted by the power of His spoken word and His mighty hand, He blessed (Genesis 1:22; 28). Later on in redemption history, Israel became the chosen nation and object of God’s blessing. They, in turn, were to bless other nations.
The blessing of God was so pronounced upon Israel that God actually instructed Moses to craft an official statement of blessing. It became known as the Aaronic blessing. Numbers 6:24-27 states:
The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them.
Of course, if one accepts the notion of blessing, one cannot escape the reality of cursing. Today, in our hedonistic culture, we have exchanged these Biblical truths for a pagan view, which many identify as luck. If things go our way, we have “good luck.” If life is contrary, we have “bad luck.” For some, they believe, “If I didn’t have bad luck, I would have no luck at all.”
This view of luck is related to chance, odds, or just a Que Sera Sera, “whatever will be, will be” mentality. Not so with the God of the Bible and His moral commands. There are blessings associated with obedience and curses associated with disobedience (Deuteronomy 28). This does not mean in this life that the righteous will escape all difficulties, problems, or tragedies, nor does it mean the wicked will not have times of enjoyment in this fleeting life. It does mean, however, after this life in its totality is weighed in the balance and judged, the righteous (obedient) will be blessed and the wicked (disobedient) will be cursed.
This truth was so relevant that God drove it home to Israel by providing a physical, visual object lesson. He chose two mountains. One mountain represented the blessing; while the other mountain represented the curse. At the appointed time, half of the twelve tribes ascended to one mountain and the other half went up to the other mountain. It was upon these two mountains that the blessings and the curses were pronounced. The Levites would declare God’s Law/Word and its promised benefit if obeyed and then proclaim the curses if violated. The mountains would resound with a hearty amen after each declaration (Deuteronomy 27:11-26).
The New Testament continued the legacy of blessing which found its roots in the Old Testament. There are three Greek words for blessing. They summarize the meaning of blessing in the New Testament. They are as follows:
(eulogeitos) is an adjective meaning “well spoken of; praised”
(eulogew) is a verb: “to speak well of; to praise; to call down God’s gracious power”
(eulogia) is the noun form, meaning “praise; fine speaking”
Unfortunately, there are modern day distortions of blessing, which are twofold. The first deformation is the prosperity Gospel. It is the Gospel of self-enhancement. The call is to come to Jesus, confess His word, and obtain health, wealth, and prosperity in His name. It has turned the Gospel of the Kingdom into the great American Church enterprise. As a result, materialism becomes the gage to measure one’s spirituality. According to this heresy, the more “faith” one exercises, the more wealth one should obtain.
The Apostle Paul warned against this mentality, even as it flourishes in our day. He stated, “Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw yourself (1 Timothy 6:5).” The Apostle Peter concurs, “And in their desire for profit they will come to you with words of deceit, like traders doing business in souls: whose punishment has been ready for a long time and their destruction is watching for them (2 Peter 2:3).” Obviously, those who are motivated to preach God’s word for “filthy lucre sake” will rue the day (Titus 1:11).
The other distortion concerns poverty. In this view, poorness equals holiness. The more one embraces poverty, the more one supposedly grows spiritually. Some call it pietism, while others label it neo-platonism. This view believes that the material world that God created, in and of itself, is evil and needs to be avoided at all costs. Only spiritual blessings matter, while matter does not matter. Both camps see blessing, however, from solely a materialistic point of view. One pursues these so-called materialistic blessings, while the other thinks their blessed by avoiding them. Both, however, miss the mark.
Proverbs 30:7-9 strikes a good balance:
Two things I request of You (Deprive me not before I die): Remove falsehood and lies far from me; Give me neither poverty nor riches-Feed me with the food allotted to me; Lest I be full and deny You, And say, “Who is the LORD?” Or lest I be poor and steal, and profane the name of my God.
The truth is God is not against His people obtaining material blessing. He is against material blessings obtaining His people. We cannot serve two masters, God and Mammon (Matthew 6:24).
There are other blessings articulated in the Bible, however, that have fallen upon hard times. Blessings, which have become obscure to the modern day Church unduly influenced by the corrupt American culture, but are blessings nonetheless. During these tumultuous times, seeking these blessings could very well impede the destructive course we are taking as a nation and secure a future and hope for our posterity. These are not exhaustive by any means, but should give us all food for thought and perhaps godly action will follow.
The Blessing of Rebuking the Wicked
These things also belong to the wise. It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment. He that saith unto the wicked, Thou art righteous; him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him: But to them that rebuke him shall be delight, and a good blessing shall come upon them. (Proverbs 24:23-25).
I find the location of this passage of Scripture very interesting. Proverbs 24 just happens to be the same chapter that calls for godly intervention when innocent people are unjustly sentenced to death (Proverbs 24:11, 12). Our land is polluted by the innocent blood that has been shed by the sin and crime of abortion. God’s wrath is clearly being poured out on our beleaguered nation. When it comes to this particular abomination, God grants specific instructions to a nation staggering under the weight of bloodguiltiness.
Isaiah 1:15-17 states:
So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood. Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.
To a nation, whose hands are covered in blood, God calls for us to repent of our apathy, rebuke the oppressors, and rescue those targeted for destruction. If we meet these conditions, He promises to bless us and we will “eat the best of the land.” If we refuse, however, “You will be devoured by the sword. Truly, the mouth of the LORD has spoken (Isaiah 1:19, 20).” Here the blessing concerns our national survival. Why does the Church, who is famous for seeking the blessing of God, ignore this blessing, especially, when our national survival hangs in the balance?
The Blessing of Turning
“Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities (Acts 3:26).”
“God Bless America, land that I love. Stand beside her, and guide her thru the night with a light from above. From the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans, white with foam, God bless America, My home sweet home.” Most of us remember this famous patriotic song. It carried the heartfelt faith and prayers of our forbearers, who recognized God as the source of blessing upon our nation. Even to this day, we hear a lot of talk and see bumper stickers asking for God’s blessing upon America. Rev. Flip Benham, National Director of Operation Rescue/Operation Save America, responds, “Do we think God has lost his mind.” How can the God of the Bible bless a nation who murders their babies, parades their sin like Sodom, and calls good/evil and evil/good? There is only one way He can bless America at this point in our nation’s history. God must bless America by turning each one of us from our iniquities.
The Blessing of Persecution
“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you (Matthew 5:10-12).”
We are living in a time where the Evil One and the enemies of the cross have: (a) pushed the perverted envelope and (b) convinced the Church that it is judgmental, unloving, or not Christ-like to say or do anything to defeat their wicked agenda. As a result, most of the Church avoids the cosmic conflict savaging America. As we avoid the battle for men’s souls, the lives of children and the future of our nation, however, we forfeit the blessing of persecution. In other words, many Christians do not threaten the “powers that be” and therefore fall under this category spoken by demons, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you (Acts 19:15)?”
How can I make such a statement? Consider what the Apostle Paul taught. He stated, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12).” Persecution is a compliment from principalities, powers, and spiritual wickedness in high places that your practice of Christianity is effectual. To live a Christian life that plunders the powers of darkness and sets the captive, there will be scars to prove it. The Apostle Paul carried in his body the marks of his Lord (Galatians 6:17). How many live for this blessing?
The Blessing of Children
“Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy (blessed) is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate (Psalm 127:3-5).”
The following comments are from our next book to be published. It is called Abortion Violation. This segment of the book is from the chapter that demonstrates how the anti-child mentality that spawned the demonic act of child sacrifice violates the Kingdom of God. I state:
I remember preaching a sermon entitled “Children, the least favorite blessing of the Christian.” The main point challenged Christians as they clamored for the Lord’s blessing to include children in their pursuits. Strange, I was never invited back. You would have thought I was an alien bringing a bizarre message from the planet “Zardoz.” Yet, the same reason why the world and some in the church abort their children is the same reason why Christians in general refuse to procreate.
The church herself has bought into the lie that children are a burden, expensive, and a hindrance to the American dream. This anti-child mentality has become a nightmare as Americans for the first time in our history sacrifice our children so we can have a better life. In fact, President Barack Obama went as far as desiring abortion rather than “punishing” his daughters with an unplanned pregnancy. Unfortunately, he carries the sentiment of the day. Babies are punishment. Before this deception captured our minds and distorted our priorities, however, we laid our lives down to secure a future and a hope for our posterity.
Observe the birth dearth that plagues the once mighty Christian West. For decades, the scaremongering of the “population bomb” has taken its toll. Groups like Planned Parenthood have thrived spreading this myth of more people and scarce resources. As a result, European nations face the specter of growing populations of elderly people and not enough babies to replace them. Thus to maintain their economy, they are relying heavily upon immigration.
This is where the threat of Islam enters. What Muslims could not accomplish through the sword in Europe, they are succeeding through immigration and population. Commenting on this predicament, author Mark Steyn in his book America Alone: the End of the World as We Know It stated:
The future belongs to the fecund and the confident. And the Islamists are both, while the West─wedded to a multiculturalism that undercuts its own confidence, a welfare state that nudges it toward sloth and self-indulgence, and a childlessness that consigns it to oblivion─is looking ever more like the ruins of a civilization.
Based upon these observations, perhaps it is time for the church to reexamine God’s word as it relates to the blessing of marriage and God’s purpose in producing a godly seed (Malachi 2:15). As it stands, the church has a profound disagreement with God when it comes to the “blessing” of children. Whereas, once upon a time, the fruitful womb was considered a blessing and the barren womb a curse, the modern era has managed to completely reverse this godly perspective.
The Blessing of Blessing
“But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you (Luke 6:27, 28).”
Do we yearn to see God intervene, evil defeated, the powers of darkness pushed back, souls redeemed, and righteousness restored in our land? If you answered yes, here is a major blessing to pursue. It is founded in the One who is the source of all blessing. It is His example that can produce these godly blessings in and through our lives, if we have the courage and humility to obey.
1 Peter 3:8-11 states:
Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.
Where in the world did Peter come up with this equation for blessing? Simply, he knew and followed the Master’s example. In the previous chapter, Peter wrote:
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.
There are two important lessons to learn, if we would inherit this type of blessing. First, the church must unapologetically uphold the truth of God’s word our Lord entrusted to us in the Bible. Remember, the church, according to God’s word, is the pillar and ground of truth (1 Timothy 3:15). We do not have the authority to change, lower, compromise, add to, or subtract from God’s word in order to make the Lord more acceptable to our perverse and crooked nation. We are not God’s ordained “public relations” employees. We are His ambassadors ordained to faithfully secure His interests in the earth (2 Corinthians 5:20).
Second, we must accept the reality that in a nation addicted to lies and under a delusional, deceptive spell, the truth is highly offensive. It angers the seed of the serpent and inspires them to persecute the seed of the woman. Biblically and historically, those who pursue the flesh cannot help but to harass those who pursue the Spirit (Galatians 4:28). This is the nature of the battle we face as God’s people.
The key to inheriting the blessing in these instances is not centered in the response of the world to the message of Christ, but our response to the assaults we will endure for His cause. When the spotless, sinless, Lamb of God was mocked, vilified, condemned, persecuted, scourged, and crucified for our sins, He did not revile or threaten in response. He cried out, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34).”
This heroic response under intense suffering is what altered the course of this world. His death satisfied God’s justice and unleashed God’s love and forgiveness into a guilty world burdened by sin. This is the example our Lord left for us. We must stand for the truth and know the world will hate us for it (Matthew 10:22). This suffering, however, is redemptive and not destructive in scope. 1 Peter 4:14 promises, “If ye are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are ye; because the Spirit of glory and the Spirit of God resteth upon you.” It is this very empowerment that helps us to face our persecutors with the same love and forgiveness we received in Christ. And what is the “blessing” in all this, the powers of darkness are plundered and the captive is set free. May our Lord bless us with these and many other blessings we have not sought in His service in Jesus’ name!
IN KING JESUS’ SERVICE,
Rev. Rusty Lee Thomas