God Bless You!

Read: Numbers 6:22-27    

    The phrase “God Bless You!” is used in many different situations.  We often say it when someone sneezes, we say it when someone leaves our presence, we often use it in prayers, and we use it to bless our family and friends.  National Geographic magazine once reported that during the plague of AD 590, Pope Gregory I ordered unceasing prayer for divine intercession. Part of his command was that anyone sneezing be blessed immediately (“God bless you”), since sneezing was often the first sign that someone was falling ill with the plague.  They said that by AD 750, it became customary to say “God bless you” as a response to someone sneezing.

Blessings are extended throughout the Bible in various ways and to various people but the main origin of this phrase comes from Numbers 6:24 when the Lord tells Moses how Aaron and his sons are to bless the Israelites. This blessing is often used at the close of worship and at other times that Christians gather.  “The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

This past week I ran across this description on a website from an anonymous source.  It said, “God’s original design in creation was for His creatures, including mankind, to experience prosperity, peace, and fulfillment, but that design was ruined when sin entered the world. Statements of blessing are a wish for God to restore His favor on others or a declaration of His inherent goodness. The ultimate blessing that God has given is the new life and forgiveness that comes through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. The material blessings we enjoy from day to day are temporary, but the spiritual blessings available to us in Christ encompass time and eternity, as well as material and immaterial things.”  As the Psalmist said, “Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God” (Psalm 146:5)

One important thing that scripture refers to often is the importance of walking with God and seeking after God in order to find his blessing. In Psalm 1 the Psalmist writes “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.”  (Psalm 1:1-2)  Scripture is clear that God does not and cannot bless sin and wickedness that are in direct disobedience to his will.

It is very important that we pray God’s blessings over our children, grandchildren, churches, marriages, relationships, and many other areas of life.  It also important that we are careful to seek after God in order to receive those blessings in full.  I have shared a lot of scripture in this week’s meditation and I still have not included any of Jesus’ words in the beatitudes which all begin with “Blessed are…”  Matthew 5:6 seems like a fitting one to end with…  “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

Make it Personal:  Take time this week to pray God’s blessings over your life and others.  Pray for a new hunger for God’s righteousness, that you might be filled with and blessed with his presence, protection, power, and hope.  May the Lord shine his face on you and be gracious to you!

Have a blessed week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church