Who Doesn’t Want a Blessing?
Many people throw around the word blessing without really understanding what it means. Nor do they know there’s one thing in particular they can do that God promises to bless.
Nostalgia. That’s the emotion fans of the iconic 1960s TV series Star Trek feel when they hear the words live long and prosper. The character of Mr. Spock, the half-Vulcan first officer on the USS Enterprise, made the phrase famous.
Jewish actor Leonard Nimoy, who played Spock, also used a hand gesture he made famous, along with the salutation. He raised his right hand, palm forward and thumb extended, and parted his fingers between the middle and ring finger, forming a V.
As a child, Nimoy went to synagogue and saw the rabbis use the gesture when they bestowed Birkat Kohanim (the Priestly Blessing), also called the Aaronic Blessing. When Star Trek’s creator, Gene Roddenberry, asked Nimoy to create a Vulcan greeting, the actor reached down into his Jewish roots and came up with the hand gesture. The Bible text for the blessing is Numbers 6:24–26:
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.
The ceremony Nimoy witnessed is also performed in some Jewish homes on Shabbat (Friday at sundown). Parents, usually fathers, raise their hands over their children and recite the prayer, asking God to bless their sons and daughters. Many Jewish people consider it a beautiful experience, significant and meaningful in their lives. And after all, who doesn’t want a blessing?
The answer to that question is probably no one. But what exactly is a blessing?
A Closer Look
The word blessing is familiar, but its meaning may not be. You can’t hold a blessing in your hand—until it’s your newly born child or grandchild, that is.
Etymologically, the word derives from the old English bledsian, used for “blood” and thought to be used for “to consecrate with blood.” The Latin word is benedicere, sometimes translated “worship” or “praise.” In Hebrew it is bracha. One recites a bracha (blessing) over food or on a particular holiday. That bracha usually begins “Baruch atah adonai”: “Blessed art Thou, O Lord.” When a blessing is offered that begins with praise, we call it worship.
Another meaning of the word blessing is “gift” or “present.” When people say, “You have been such a blessing to me,” they are saying you have provided them with something of value—like a gift or present. When we pray to God for a blessing, we ask Him to give us something of value, whether spiritual or material.
Think about that for a moment. The priestly prayer begins, “The Lord bless you.” The one bestowing the blessing wants the Lord (Jehovah) to provide a gift or present for another. The blessing is amazing in its boldness. Will God do what is asked? If He will, is there something we can do to ensure it happens?
The answer is that God provides a promise of blessing in His Word. Genesis 12:3 says, “I will bless those who bless you.” This passage is part of the Abrahamic Covenant, a promise God made unconditionally to Abraham, his son Isaac, grandson Jacob, his 12 great-grandsons, and all their future children right up to today.
The verse continues, “I will curse him who curses you.” God promises that anyone who curses Abraham and his descendants will himself be cursed. It adds, “and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” God promises that Abraham will bless all the earth through his descendants. In fact, five times in the book of Genesis (12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14), God promises to bless the nations through the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Proof of Blessing
How then has Abraham’s seed blessed the nations?
Most Bible-believing Christians know at least two significant blessings Abraham and his Jewish progeny have brought to the world. The first is Jesus (Hebrew, Yeshua) the Messiah (Hebrew, Mashiach), the God/Man and Savior. Many people, unfortunately, ignore Jesus’ Jewishness.
The second is God’s Word, the Bible. Of the 66 books in the Old and New Testaments, 63 were written by Jews. (Two Gentiles, Job and Luke, wrote the other three: Job, Luke, and Acts.)
In addition to these two important spiritual blessings, God has brought countless other tangible blessings to the world through the Jewish people. Some of these blessings make our lives easier, safer, and more enjoyable—such as cell phones, computer operating systems, voicemail, robotics, instant messaging, website development, and firewall security for computers.
Others make our lives healthier—such as synthetic vitamins, medical procedures, and cures for diseases. The website jinfo.org is devoted to specifically crediting individual Jewish people for their contributions to humanity. The site states, “Since the turn of the century,…Jews have been awarded 25% of all Nobel Prizes and 28% of those in the scientific research fields.”
Jewish people constitute less than one fifth of one percent of the world population—an infinitesimally small number. Yet their contributions are heavily disproportionate to their numbers; and their accomplishments, creativity, and innovations have blessed the entire world, making life better not only for themselves but for all nations.
God promises to bless those who bless the Jewish people. So how can we bless God’s Chosen People and receive a blessing ourselves?
What We Can Do
Every year at our Friends of Israel (FOI) prophecy conferences, we have a session called “Blessing Israel.” Using video and PowerPoint, Tom Geoghan, our vice president for Advancement, explains the ways FOI regularly blesses Israel.
Since 2012, FOI has given (through donations from our constituents) more than $1.6 million to the FOI Israel Relief Fund. These dollars have blessed Israel in literal and tangible ways. We have provided funds for 20 bomb shelters that protect Israelis from rockets launched by Hamas from Gaza. We also have provided clothing, food, shelter, and education for 140 Ethiopian immigrant families; 1,400 meals for lone soldiers (soldiers with no family in Israel); and 11 academic scholarships for disadvantaged youth.
FOI funds have also enabled 60 cases to be legally advocated for Christian minorities in Israel, Holocaust survivors, and victims of prostitution and human trafficking. Seventeen babies have been saved from abortion and sponsored for the first year of life, and 10 Israeli paramedics have been equipped with critical lifesaving tools for a year.
Those of you who have contributed funds directed to Israel can attest to receiving a blessing from God—that is His promise. How He blesses is up to Him. But bless He does.
Giving money certainly is one way to bless Israel. But there is another extremely important way: Praying. Praying for the Jewish people is actually commanded in Scripture. Psalm 122:6 tells us, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” When we do so, we use an Old Testament way of saying, “Maranatha, Lord come,” for we know that Jerusalem will only know true peace when Jesus, the Sar Shalom, Prince of Peace, comes.
Who doesn’t want a blessing? We all would love to be blessed. I am so thankful “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16). That is the greatest blessing of all.