The power of a blessing
Vayechi (And He Lived) B’resheet/Genesis 47:28-50:26
Today I would like us to look at the last Torah portion of Genesis. In this portion we read of the death of both Jacob and Joseph. This portion, like Chayai Sarah in Genesis 23:1, follows an interesting thought. Even though both are called by a name meaning life, they include the death of the main character.
What do you think is the message scripture seems to be telling us? I think it is reminding us that death is not the end of who we are or were. Our lives are measured by how we have lived. Have we had a positive impact on the people who remain after our passing?
Here in our reading we see Jacob coming to the end of his life. But we mainly read about his children, those that remained after Jacob’s death. These children would become the founders of the twelve tribes of Israel. Jacob told them how they would live in the years ahead. We will all come to the time of our earthly life ending unless the Messiah returns first. What really matters is not how grand our funeral may be or the earthly things we have accumulated. What is of eternal importance is how we spent each day of our life. Will we leave behind people and situations, carrying the evidence of our life spent doing the will of G-d? To me, this is the point our reading is making. I pray we do not waste our days but live each day to its fullest doing the will of our Father.
In Genesis 49:18 we read these words of Jacob as he neared his end, “For your salvation I wait, O L-rd.” For us, this verse should inspire us each day. We wait for the return of the Messiah as we do His will each day. Also, an interesting fact, in this verse we read in Hebrew the word Yeshua which literally means salvation.
Jacob was looking forward to the coming Redeemer. This time of waiting for the Redeemer is not a passive time of waiting but instead it is a time of doing the work of our Father. My question is, how are we looking at our lives? Are we seeing G-d’s hand even in the difficult days? No doubt Jacob had difficult days but his last words expressed his hope and faith in G-d’s salvation (Yeshua) to come. Even in his last days Jacob had not lost hope.
Now on to my question of the week, what does the word bless say to us about how we are to live our lives. Is it important for us to bless others? In Genesis 49:26 we see the Hebrew word for bless used twice. When we read both 25 and 26 the word appears six times. So it seems Jacob had a deep desire for his children to understand the concept of blessing. It was important to him for them to understand how he saw this working out in their future generations to come.
For sure Jacob saw that G-d would bless not only Israel but even the world through His people. In our world today the word bless has lost some of its intended spiritualness. It often is just a term of pleasantry or a way to end a conversation.
In scripture it is so much more. When we read how Jacob blessed his children it gives us insight into how we are to bless. In Hebrew the root word is bracha. It can mean to strengthen, to kneel and to bless. Each of these meanings can give us insight into how we are to bless. We pray G-d will strengthen us, our children or others. We can also understand it as a prayer for G-d’s protection and favor.
We see in Numbers 6:23-27 where G-d gave Aaron a pattern for blessing the people of Israel. These verses give us a great pattern of how to bless and what it means to bless. When we read these verses we see a blessing as being a request for G-d to intervene in the life of a person. It shows those things that are to be called down when we are blessing. It is not just a light way of ending a visit or to be used without thought. It is a powerful intercession that is made for the favor of G-d to be brought to bear on a person. The last verse says, “So they shall put My name on the children of Israel and I will bless them.” G-d is telling Aaron how to bless their children and in doing so they would be putting G-d’s name on them. They would belong to G-d.
I believe it is especially important for us to be a person, parent or friend who chooses to speak words of blessing into the lives of people G-d puts in our path. To bless another carries strong spiritual power.
In the Messianic scriptures we see how Yeshua and His disciples blessed. Can anyone think of places in the Messianic scripture where someone spoke a blessing? Yeshua blessed when sharing food with the five thousand in Matthew 14:19 and Mark 6:41. He also spoke blessings at the Last Supper in Matthew 26:26. In Luke 6:28 He told His disciples to bless those who curse you, to pray for those who abuse you.
Shaul followed Yeshua’s example in Romans 12:14 when he said to bless those who persecute you. There are many more verses showing us the spiritual effect of blessing. As we close I ask each of you to use blessings to touch people, to bring the power of G-d into the lives of friends, family and others we meet along the way.
Hazak, Hazak V’nit’chazek!
Be strong, Be strong, and let us be strengthened!