The Old Testament is filled with many blessings of God for His people. One of the most important of these is found in Genesis 12:1-3 where God blesses Abraham if he leaves his country of origin for an unknown land. It is there that God would make him a great nation, bless him, make his name great so that Abraham would be a blessing. Through Abraham’s willingness to leave his home for one not known to him, God would bless the nations, a new concept since God had just scattered the people from Babel in Genesis 11. The avenue to God’s blessing follows this same pathway for all who choose to believe God’s promises.
Paul teaches us in Ephesians 1:3, that the Father “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ [new covenant]”. The Greek word for blessing is eulogia and it basically means a benefit bestowed on another. God has bestowed (aorist tense meaning something completed in the past) divine benefits on believers who are willing to leave their home as defined by the material world and perceived by the five senses and allow themselves to be led to a spiritual place Paul refers to as “in Christ”. To know that this promise is real is to look at Abraham. In Genesis 24:1, Scripture says, “Now Abraham was old, advanced in age; and the Lord had blessed Abraham in every way”. As the father of our faith (Romans 4:16), he has paved the way for those who are of the faith of Abraham to also find all the blessings God has intended (see Galatians 3:9).
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the gentle [meek], for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me” (Matthew 5:3-11)
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus laid out for the disciples the many blessings associated with the new covenant; there are conditions associated with each. The poor in spirit are those who recognize their spiritual helplessness. In verse 4, mourners are those who are especially aware of their own sinfulness and the new covenant promises comfort. The gentle or meek have an inwrought grace of the soul, particularly toward God; it is the acceptance of God’s unique plan toward the believer. In verse 6, righteousness is not something that happens, but something that must be pursued. The righteous life is the blessed life.
The Value of Perseverance
The merciful are those who are disposed to give mercy to those who are suffering; this characteristic is evidence of piety and devotion to God. In Proverbs 11:17, “The merciful man does himself good, but the cruel man does himself harm.” The pure of heart in verse 8 are those who are completely transparent before God, honest, holding nothing back. And then there are the peacemakers, who, having received peace (Romans 5:1), they bring peace to others. Verses 10 and 11 address the persecuted, who willingly accept mistreatment for the sake of the gospel and their dedicated relationship to God through Christ. In James 1:12, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him”.
These blessings of God that Jesus spoke about include receiving the kingdom, inheriting the earth, being satisfied, receiving mercy, the ability to see God, and being called sons of God. They all speak of a heightened relationship with God and come to the one who acknowledges his own poverty to be able to recognize the riches of God and His kingdom. In James 2:5, Scripture says, “Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?” James’ reference to the poor of this world was not speaking of a lack of material things, but more importantly a Biblical evaluation that the value of the Kingdom far exceeds those of worldly things.
Worthy is the Lamb
Jesus had a powerful exchange with Thomas in John 20:28-29, when Thomas finally acknowledged Jesus as His Lord. Jesus made the following statement to him in verse 29, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” Real faith, believing when there is no evidence, is always the primary roadway into the riches of the Kingdom. The object of that faith is in Jesus, the Christ, His identity, His character and His nature. In Revelation 5:11-13, around the throne, John sees angels as well as the living creatures and elders with multitudes more all saying with their voices, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing”. In response, every creature in every place responds with, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever”. Jesus has earned the right to receive every blessing! Every blessing God has prepared for the church age is wrapped up in who Jesus is and what He accomplished.
Jesus says, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it” (Luke 11:28). The Greek word used here is phulasso and it basically means to keep watch. Figuratively, it means to not violate the Word of God. That can only happen when we esteem and treasure the Word more than our necessary food (Job 23:12). The Word of God is an extension of Christ and His life (John 1:1) and those who embrace the Scriptures as such find the very person of Jesus.