Written by Andy Fortner
on Monday, 16 April 2012.
Posted in Expositor
Have you ever asked God to bless you, your family, your ventures: be it a relationship, education, work, or any sort of decision you may have to make day to day? If you have, you are not alone. Nearly every Christian seeks to be blessed and we all need God’s blessing daily. But have you ever thought about why you seek God’s blessing? Is it for personal comfort, gain, success, and fulfillment or are you seeking the blessing of God for a bigger purpose - for His purpose?
Psalm 67 is an incredible prayer in Scripture. It reveals God’s purposes for the nation of Israel. It reveals God’s heart for the world. And it reveals what our motives in seeking blessing ought to be. The prayer reads:
May God be gracious to us and bless usand make his face to shine upon us, Selahthat your way may be known on earth,your saving power among all nations.Let the peoples praise you, O God;let all the peoples praise you!
Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,for you judge the peoples with equityand guide the nations upon earth. SelahLet the peoples praise you, O God;let all the peoples praise you!
The earth has yielded its increase;God, our God, shall bless us.God shall bless us;let all the ends of the earth fear him!
Israel prays for the blessing of God, for the purpose that He would be known throughout the earth. This prayer is a reflection of God’s purposes for Israel. From His covenant with Abraham, the purpose of God choosing and blessing His people was so that they could be a blessing to the world. In Genesis 12:2-3 God says to Abraham, “And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” In redeeming His people from Egypt, sustaining them in the wilderness, giving them the victory in battle, and keeping them in spite of their grave unfaithfulness, God was making His name and ways known throughout the world. Their being blessed was a testimony to the nations of the one true God.
The prayer of Israel in Psalm 67 is for blessing but not merely for their own comfort, gain, fulfillment, or success but that God’s “way may be known on earth” and His “saving power among all nations,” for the purpose that “all peoples” would praise Him. God’s heart desire for the world is that all peoples come to know Him, His saving power, and praise Him, resulting in their gladness. God blessed Israel as a means to bless the nations with the knowledge of Him and His salvation. Think about the testimony of Rahab. In Joshua 2:9-11, she told Israel’s spies, “I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the LORD your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.” As a result of this testimony in Jericho of God’s power, Rahab and her family are saved from the destruction and she even becomes apart of the lineage of our Lord. God’s people were blessed to be a blessing to the nations.
How does all of this relate to us? How does this apply to how or why we seek the Lord’s blessing? As God’s people, redeemed by the atoning work of Christ, we have been greatly blessed. Ephesians 1:3 declares, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” But the passage continues stating that our blessing is for the purpose of “the praise of His glorious grace” (v 6). We have been blessed that He may be praised not that we may be comfortable. To take this even further, Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:18-20, “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” As Israel was redeemed from Egypt to be a testimony to the world of God and His salvation, so we, who have been reconciled by the blood of Jesus, have been blessed so that we may take the blessing to others.
Practically this means that when we seek the blessing of God in our lives, for whatever it may be (marriage, family, work, education, etc.), we settle for less than what God intends if we seek it for our own benefit and not for the testimony of God and His power in your life and the gladness of others. For example, when you pray for your marriage to be blessed, do so not merely for your happiness but that the people around you may see the gospel of grace reflected in your relationship with your spouse. When you pray for your work to be blessed, do so not merely for your own personal advancement or gain, but that people may see God’s blessing in your faithfulness and integrity and that you may have “something to share with anyone in need.” And this goes on and on. As God’s people, blessed in Christ, we have died to self to live for another, therefore we have been blessed to be a blessing to God in praise and to others in sharing our hope in Christ that they too may “be glad.”
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