Let It Be…As You Say…
The Bible teaches us many things that we don’t really understand. Sometimes we have revelation about particular items in scripture. Sometimes scripture is just words to us. We can skim over scripture and never really take in its intended meaning. It is easy to even have knowledge of something and yet fail to grasp what it really means. But that is where the Holy Spirit comes in. We know that scripture is breathed out by God (See 2 Timothy 3:16). The text says ‘is given by the inspiration of God’ but quite literally translates as God-breathed. Now this is interesting because the word in Hebrew for breath – ruach, is also used for spirit. So, in Hebrew, the Holy Spirit, reads ruach HaKodesh – or spirit who is set apart. Of course, when Paul was writing his letter to Timothy in which he made this point, he was referring to the Old Testament. What we know as the New Testament wasn’t actually compiled for at least another century. That is not to take anything away from the New Testament – for clearly it is of God also, but to point out that when Paul spoke of scripture he wasn’t referring to his own letters, but to the Torah, to the Psalms, to the History books, and to the Prophets.
My point is this: If all scripture is God-breathed, then it all has a purpose. Also, because it comes from the mouth of God is has to be true for we know also that it is impossible for God to lie (see Numbers 23:19, Titus 1:2 & Hebrews 6:18). Therefore, we shouldn’t lightly skip over scripture as if it no longer has the same meaning that it once did. For God never changes. He is the same today as He was yesterday and will be tomorrow. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Our God too. We as ‘gentiles’ have been grafted into His family, the Hebrews, by His grace. This isn’t something we should ever take for granted. In fact, because we have been grafted it, we should be all the more eager to catch up and study the scriptures so that we have a greater understanding of just who God truly is.
With this in mind, I have been pondering, for many years, several issues in the Bible that have all come to the light of revelation in the past few weeks and days. None of them are especially connected, save by the way of discipleship. But the revelation has come as the result of actively seeking answers from God about these things. I have been reading scripture and only grasping a glimpse of it. Then I asked God for revelation of what it really means. When someone writes something that you don’t fully understand, who better to ask for an explanation than the author?
I should say, at this point, that I am fortunate enough to have time on my hands at present. If I didn’t, finding the time to seek God on the deeper matters of the heart, is often difficult. But, because things with God can take time, I have had the privilege of being able to really seek Him over a number of things that have troubled or caused me to wonder about for many years.
I throw in caution here. It is not simply time that can allow these revelations. It is, for me, also the condition of my heart. If I want to store the real treasures of God in my heart, then I have to get rid of the other things that I treasure in order to make room. See Nehemiah 13. Ask the Holy Spirit for revelation on our hearts being the temple of God.
So, as well as time, it requires humility. I am not saying that I am humble, but that I purpose to humble myself before God in order for Him to teach me His ways. His ancient ways that haven’t changed. These ways are not subject to the latest teaching on revival or evangelism. His ways are deeply embedded into scripture and often have to be wrestled out before their true meaning can be observed.
With time on my hands (things are slow at Cornerstone right now) and with a humble approach, I have sought God on several matters and have been pleasantly surprised at what I have be shown. I won’t go into all of them here – well, at least not today. But I do want to share a particular treasure with you that may well benefit your own understanding of a certain aspect of our walk with God. It is something we regularly do, and yet, may not fully grasp the full power of what we do.
Y’shua*(that is Jesus – see * below) said that we should bless our enemies:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemy, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” [Matthew 5:43-44 NKJV]
Do we understand what that actually means? My experience in the past is that I can love my enemy easily enough, but only through gritted teeth; I can say with my lips for God to bless someone who curses me, but not mean it in my heart; I can do only good that leaves me feeling morally superior to those who hate me; and I can pray that God will zap those who are spiteful and who persecute me. I can tell you, it doesn’t mean that. God has challenged me on this. If it is only lip service that I pay Him, then that makes me a hypocrite. Nothing else. Do not be deceived. If you choose to take even the moral high ground when blessing someone, you have already failed. Remember, it is only because of God’s mercy towards us that we even see the issues in the lives of others. They are as we once were.
When He said this, Y’shua was actually showing The Way – that ancient way – to the people. He took sections from the Law, the Torah, and showed them exactly what God meant it to mean. He did this to show what was possible for us to achieve if we lived His way. The men of religion had made the Law so much of a burden that it wasn’t achievable, in fact, it only served to highlight sin. And in the same way that Y’shua taught us about what scripture really means, so too is His Holy Spirit ready to teach us today, His way – The Way. His way is always better.
But He wasn’t only showing us a better way, He was reminding us that we have the power at our disposal to actually do it. This wasn’t something unattainable. These things we do every day – to love; to bless; to do good; and to pray. Easy. But when the object is someone whom we don’t want to love, bless, to do good to and to pray for, we tend to think it doesn’t matter. And understand this – Y’shua didn’t say it for anyone’s benefit other than our own. Yes! That’s right, we are the ones who receive the benefit – we get to be called ‘sons (and daughters) of our Father in heaven’. So, in other words, by doing what Y’shua says, we don’t only have a much better quality of life now as a result of loving, blessing, doing good and praying, but we are storing up treasure in the life to come.
Now, today, I want to look at just one aspect of what Y’shua said we should do, and explain what I have come to understand of it.
If you were to look in the dictionary for a definition of the word ‘bless’, you will find that invariably it has a religious connotation to it. It has become, in certain circles of understanding, entirely a religious rite. But we are not looking at the word from a 21st century understanding.
Y’shua was a Hebrew and He was talking then to other Hebrews. But remember that Romans chapter 11 tells us that we Gentiles have been grafted into that same tree, and so He was talking to us too. The reason I mention this is that the Hebrew definition of the word and the examples that we find in scripture offer us an explanation that not only is superior to any dictionary, but also, shows us how the practical outworking happens.
In Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, it lists barak, from which translators render bless, as primitive root which means to kneel and by the way of implication, to bless God – as an act of adoration, and also, to bless man – as a benefit to him.
The Bible is packed full of uses of the word bless. Every book has someone blessing another or God blessing someone, or someone blessing God. But what is the Bible really talking about? By this I mean, in practice, what does it actually mean?
One thing is clear, that without exception, the blessing of one to another involved speaking out words. Even if it isn’t written down in the text that someone spoke, by inference we understand that a blessing was delivered by speech. Unless it was an actual physical object given from one person to another, but then how would you give a physical object to our God, who is unseen?
Take a look at the first time the word barak is used. It is clear that there were words involved.
“And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters of the sea, and let the birds multiply on the earth.”” [Genesis 1:22 NKJV My Italics]
Let’s take a look at another example that is found in Genesis. Isaac, Abraham’s son and heir of the covenant, as well as all of Abraham’s riches, had sired two sons, Esau and Jacob, and was drawing to the end of his life. It was time to give his blessing to one of his sons. He had chosen his eldest, Esau, but was duped into imparting his blessing upon the youngest, Jacob. We can pick up the story in Genesis 27:
“Then his father Isaac said to him [Jacob], “Come near now and kiss me, my son.” And he came near and kissed him; and he smelled the smell of his clothing, and blessed him and said:
“Surely, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field which the LORD has blessed. Therefore may God give you the dew of heaven, of the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine. Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be master over your brethren, and let your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, And blessed be those who bless you.”” [Genesis 27:26-29 NKJV]
Seems simple enough doesn’t it? Just speak some nice things over your son and that’s it. Well, yes, as we shall see later, but first we must understand exactly what we are talking about. I like to explain a truly practical outworking of anything I post here. Ideas without substance mean little. If I am learning something new from God’s word, I want to be able to put it into practice.
Traditionally, in Hebrew families, the end of life blessing would have been a little like a Last Will and Testament is today. It would be the father’s wishes for what should become of the possessions and wealth that he had accumulated over his lifetime. With the case of Isaac, he had inherited a considerable fortune in land, livestock and treasure from his father Abraham. It was Abraham’s to give away to whom he chose. And, therefore, what Isaac had, was also his to give away to whom he chose. Isaac chose to give it all to Esau, because it was common practice (and still is) for the eldest male child to receive everything or at least double (the double portion) what the other siblings would receive. But Isaac was tricked into giving it to Jacob instead of Esau.
But what is the ‘it’ that Isaac actually gave? Let’s go back to the text to see. Esau has just arrived home to find that his father, Isaac, has given his blessing to Jacob.
“When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, “Bless me – me also, O my father!”
But he said “Your brother came with deceit and has taken away your blessing.”
And Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob? [Jacob means supplanter or deceitful] For he has supplanted me theses two times. He took away my birthright, and now look, he has taken away my blessing!” And he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?”
Then Isaac answered and said to Esau, “Indeed I have made him your master, and all his brethren I have given to him as servants; with grain and wine I have sustained him. What shall I do now for you, my son?”
And Esau said to his father, “Have you only one blessing, my father? Bless me – me also, O my father!” And Esau lifted up his voice and wept.” [Genesis 27: 34-38 NKJV]
It is not hard to imagine this happening today, in some solicitor’s office, whilst an unfavourable Will is read aloud. But the difference between what happens today and what happened back then is important. Today we do, indeed, have the blessing committed to writing in the shape of a Will. Back then, the blessing was spoken. And could only be spoken once. Esau never received what was due to him. Jacob got it all. Why? Good question.
The why is what this little exercise is really all about. When God created mankind, He did so in His image. That is to say that we share some of the same characteristics as Him. One of those being the power to create with our mouths. In this day and age we fail to recognise it, but we still possess that same power. It is almost as if we have forgotten what we are capable of. Almost. But not quite.
When Isaac spoke his blessing over Jacob, it wasn’t merely words between two men. Instead it was Isaac speaking out, with his authority as owner of what he possessed, to the heavenly realms that all he owned now belonged to his son. He spoke it out, and in the spiritual realm something shifted and changed. The power that Isaac possessed in his words caused it to be so. That is why he couldn’t simply take it back and give it to Esau. It had been spoken out.
Hard to swallow? Not for Jacob. He clearly accepted the blessing. We don’t see that in the text, but it was certainly common practice when it came to receiving blessings to acknowledge the receipt of it by saying something along the lines of ‘let it be so’ or ‘let it be as you have said’. Even today, we quite often use the principle in a church setting. Someone might say a ‘word’ of prophecy or encouragement over us and we will often say that we receive it. Or not, as the case may be.
For a couple examples of this practice take a look at Genesis 30:34 where Laban and Jacob agree terms over some sheep. Or, better still, Luke 1:38 when Mary is told of God’s future plans.
And it is the future that is key to this whole idea of a spoken blessing. God always deals with His people according to their future. The blessings are naturally forward looking and prophetic in nature. In fact, the reality is, that if a blessing is NOT spoken out by men or God, then it will never come to pass.
In creating us in His image, God has furnished us with everything we need to create our future. We simply need to speak it out.
I recently learned that the word abracadabra, as used in magic shows just before someone pulls a rabbit out of nowhere, is actually a Hebrew word that literally breaks down to mean: ‘as I speak, I create’.
And God said “Let there be light.” And there was.
The very same principle used by God when creating the universe is what is built into us when we bless…or curse someone. We have that much power in our spoken words.
So, we can see that the blessing is spoken and needs to be received by the recipient, but there has to be more than that surely? After all, by that rationale, I could bless someone I know with loads of money by simply speaking it out, couldn’t I?
Nope. I don’t think so. Let’s go back to the example of Isaac and Jacob. Isaac only blessed Jacob with what he already possessed. When Esau turned up and wanted blessing too, there was nothing left. It is true that part of Isaac’s blessing was prophetic, but the prophecy was built upon the foundation of what wealth was being given to Jacob. I suspect the prophetic side of any blessing is also linked very strongly to God’s will. You just have to look through Ezekiel and Jeremiah to know that false prophets exist. But only God can say yes or no to any prophetic word being fulfilled.
For the moment, I want to continue to explore the notion that you can only bless someone out of what you possess already. Let us see if the theory holds water.
In Acts chapter 3 we have an excellent example of the theory in action. Although not an actual blessing, it demonstrates exactly the point I am trying to make.
“Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.”
So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”
And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.” [Acts 3:1-7 NKJV]
I said that you could only bless someone with what you already possessed. So what did Peter actually bless this lame man with? What did Peter actually have?
Well, there is a clue in what he says when he uses the name Jesus Christ (in Aramaic, Y’shua Mashiyach). Peter, like the rest of the disciples had been given the authority of Y’shua. In Mark 3:15 it says that Y’shua gave His disciples the authority to heal sicknesses and cast out demons. Y’shua, in turn, could only give what He had been given by God Himself. See John 17:8.
So, Peter, who was clearly poor (the life of a disciple is one of temporal poverty!), still wanted to bless this lame man, and he set an example for all of us by being prepared to give out what he did have – the authority to heal the sick.
Now, I believe what God is showing me is that when it comes to blessing my enemies, I have to bless them with what I have already. What do I have? Well, personally, I have the good knowledge of salvation; I have the peace of God; I have forgiveness; and a whole lot more that I am only just starting to realise!
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you exactly what you have been given. In two of Paul’s letters we see some clues as to what we have been given. Whether we have ‘received’ them appears to be up to us. But, start with Ephesians:
“…who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” [Ephesians 1:3]
If that is not enough, then try Colossians 2:9-10, which tells us we have been given the fullness of Christ, who is the head over every power and authority!
And, do you know what, all we have to do is believe and then start giving out the blessings of what we have already been blessed with.
Y’shua practiced this. He gave out to others everything the Father had given Him. We have to do the same.
So, the next time you get an opportunity to bless an enemy, think of what you know you already have, and speak that blessing out to the heavenlies. You might not be able to do as Peter did with the lame man and take hold of him to impart the blessing, but we have to accept that our blessing will still work.
We are made in the image of God and we have been given the authority of Y’shua. We just need to start believing it.
This is one you can definitely try at home.
* – One of the things that I have recently been convicted of by God is the correct use of His various names. Y’shua was a Hebrew, like all of the disciples, and He would have spoken Aramaic, the oral version of the Hebrew language. In Hebrew, His name is written Y’shua, which means YHWH – pronounced Yah Way – is my salvation. The name Joshua is the closest translation that we have when translating Hebrew to English. However, the New Testament was largely written in Greek. There was no corresponding word for Y’shua, so the Greek scribes of the day took the equivalent phonetic sounds from their own language to produce a word that most closely produced the sound of Y’shua. It was still some way off, and, over time we have adopted the sounds of the way Jesus is written. But Jesus was not His name. Jesus, because it is a group of phonetic sounds has no true meaning in Greek or any other language. Y’shua, however, does. YHWH is my salvation. Now, we understand that Y’shua was given the ‘name that is above all other names’ and here is why: In the Old Testament God revealed Himself to the Hebrews through a series of names, the highest of these is YHWH. It contains no vowels – they are only added to make it easy for people whose language relies on vowels. And God gave this name to His Son. There is no other name which is higher. You may not be convinced. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you.