May the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth, Bless you from Zion. Psalm 134:3
Our perspective on life changes as we age. What used to be important, isn’t. We worry about different things as we grow older too. Health is a bigger issue later in life while getting a promotion, driving a hot car or having a hot date are concerns of younger people.
Psalm 134, here, is the last of the fifteen Psalms of the “Ascents.” The Jews sang it on their way to Jerusalem (Zion) for festivals. The Jews’ view of life had changed dramatically and often. From freedom to slavery and from being sinners to would-be saints. Whatever their current condition they asked God to bless them and their family and friends. May He bless all of us from Zion too. We need it more than ever.
Then he asked, “Haven’t you reserved any Blessing for me?” Genesis 27:36
Dying isn’t something people like to dwell on. We tend to think of “the end” as a theory, not a reality. That way we can put off as long as possible contemplating what happens after death. Which is why churches are filled with older people; they’ve finally learned the truth: Nobody’s getting out alive.
Here, Esau saw the death of his blessing. It was unexpected, as death often is, and he pleaded for a second change, another blessing. He’d blown it by ignoring God. Isaac, instead, told him he would be banished and serve his brother; a fate worse that death. God give us many, many chances until the time of death, then it’s too late. Don’t be dead on arrival at the throne of justice. Don’t blow this!
This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “When I bring them back from captivity, the people of the land of Judah and its towns will once again use these words: ‘The Lord Bless you, O righteous dwelling, O sacred mountain.’ ” Jeremiah 31:23
We sometimes want to return an item because it doesn’t fit or is defective. We’ve changed our minds. Merchants all have different policies and sometimes they refuse a return.
The return described here was different. Israel had abandoned God, and was going to be held captive for 70 years in a foreign country. They eventually returned home. We’re often held captive by our sins and selfishness. God wants us to return to Him. He’ll always take us back no matter how long we’ve been gone or how broken and defective we are. All returns are welcomed!
May the Lord, the God of your fathers, increase you a thousand times and Bless you as He promised! Deuteronomy 1:11
Big numbers are usually good things. More seems better than less. Getting a raise means we can save and spend more. But sometimes less is better. Weighing less is good. We spend about $20 billion annually on dieting. Golf is based on the lowest score, and being less involved with ourselves is the true winner if we want to exhibit humility.
Here, Moses is saying “Good-Bye.” He hopes that God will only make the Israelites bigger, not smaller. It went both ways. They grew and forgot God so He reduced them from millions to less than 4,000, then they returned to Him. God’s economy is more and more. He doesn’t want part of us – He wants all of us, now and forever.
Now King David was told, “The Lord has Blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.” So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing. 2 Samuel 6:12
Routine shapes our daily activities; it helps us regulate our lives. But routine can be a drug that keeps us from experiencing the “risky” life God may want for us.
Here, when King David last tried to move the Ark, it ended in death and disaster. When he saw God’s blessings on its caretaker, Obed-Edom, he tried again; he had faith. Acting on faith is ALWAYS risky. Faith means more than an assurance of heaven. It means breaking routines and reaching out to others. When we risk, we’re rewarded – with even more faith.
Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and there He Blessed me and said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and will increase your numbers. I will make you a community of peoples, and I will give this land as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you.’ ” Genesis 48:3-4
“Home” can be a dorm, an apartment, a condo or a single family house. Robert Frost said, “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”
Here, Jacob is remembering God’s promise of a homeland. He’s promises us one too: Heaven. Like any home you have to belong to the family to get in. Jesus said He’ll knock. Is He enough a part of our family that we’d let Him in?
“I have received a command to bless; He has Blessed, and I cannot change it. Numbers 23:20
There are always things we would like to change. Changing the past may include correcting our career choices, financial decisions or angry words we spoke. Changing the present isn’t easy, and it’s often frightening. The phrase, “A bad known is better than a good unknown” is too often true.
Here, Balaam, a false prophet, was hired to curse Israel. God would only let him bless them instead. God wants to bless us too, but we stand in His way. We get comfortable with our sins and situations. When we listen, we may hear Him telling us what to do to redirect our lives toward Him. If we trust Him, we can walk on the water. If we don’t, may be left high and dry.
“They are the sons God has given me here,” Joseph said to his father. Then Israel said, “Bring them to me so I may Bless them.” Genesis 48:9
Seeing long lost family and friends is priceless. Family and class reunions are popular because we’re related to everybody there by the DNA or life experiences that bond us. We can be more “real” because it’s a less judgmental atmosphere. As we age, we are all just happy to attend!
Here, Israel (God had changed his name from Jacob) is seeing his grandsons, through his son Joseph, for the first time. Joseph had been long lost and given up for dead. Finding God later in life is like this. We’d been lost and finding Him is pure joy. But God was never lost, and He makes Himself easy to find – just look around.
But Laban said to him, “If I have found favor I your eyes, please stay. I have learned from divination that the Lord has Blessed me because of you.” Genesis 30:27
We’d all like to know the future. Many people use experts to help determine the future of financial markets. One in seven Americans turn to fortune-tellers, astrologers, etc. to look into tomorrow. So many, that some governments are trying to regulate it. And shouldn’t these “seers” be wildly wealthy? Picking the right stocks to buy ought to be easy for them.
Here, Jacob’s father-in-law, Laban used “divination” to try to persuade Jacob not to move back to his homeland. Unfortunately, no one knows the future except God, and He creates it. We either believe He’ll bless and protect us tomorrow or we don’t. God doesn’t read tarot cards or horoscopes.
But his bow remained steady, his arms stayed limber, because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, because of your father’s God who helps you, because of the Almighty, who Blesses you with the Blessings of the skies above, Blessings of the deep springs below, Blessings of the breast and womb. Genesis 48:24-25
Superman has always been a popular action hero. He’s noble, honest, has x-ray vision and amazing strength. And he can fly! Who wouldn’t want to have those qualities?
Here, Jacob is blessing Joseph, his amazing son who rose from slavery to become his family’s savior. God doesn’t break the laws of physics for us, but He gives us supernatural power daily. He’s made us into supermen and superwomen. We just need to remember that – and act like it!