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
I’m sure we’ve all heard someone sneeze followed by someone else saying “bless you”! In Christian circles you’ll often hear the greeting “God bless”. These are two common phrases in our everyday lives which use the word ‘bless’; a word from the Bible of course. But what is its significance in the Bible?
The word first appears in the first chapter of Genesis where we read that when “God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind,” he then “blessed them” (Genesis 1:21-22). This immediately tells us that God’s blessing is not only limited to human beings but is also extended to creatures.
Regarding creatures, God’s blessing refers to fertility and when He blesses Adam and Eve, again, his blessing is linked to fertility: ‘And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it…”’ (Genesis 1:28). We can conclude therefore that blessing does not merely concern spiritual or religious matters. Rather, God’s blessing ensures success, welfare or fulfilment in life’s varied situations and in many varied ways.
The most famous example of God giving His blessing in the Old Testament might be His promise to Abraham, “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3).
Blessing is a word also used in the New Testament. Possibly the best example is seen in the opening salutation in the epistle to the Ephesians where Paul says: “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” (Ephesians 1:3). These words remind us of a blessing that is specifically in Christ. As we read on through this chapter we delve into the riches and wonders of this blessing – our adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, forgiveness of our sins and our redemption through his blood.
God’s promise to bless is seen in the Old Testament as something that can never be withdrawn. A striking example of this truth is seen in a strange story in Numbers. It is recorded there that Balak, the king of Moab, intended to harm the people of Israel by putting a curse on them. In order to carry this out the king employs Balaam, a prophet from Midian. But despite his greatest efforts, all fails for Balaam. He eventually has to recognise this and says: “he has blessed, and I cannot revoke it” (Numbers 23:20).
The source of the blessing, whatever the circumstances, is God himself. The blessing will only come to pass through God’s word or promise.
Iwan Rhys Jones, ‘Bendith’ taken from Geiriau Bywyd, published by EMW in 2017