AM Psalm 89:1-18; PM Psalm 89:19-52
Genesis 49:1-28; 1 Corinthians 10:14-11:1; Mark 7:24-37
By the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob,
by the name of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,
by the God of your father, who will help you,
by the Almighty who will bless you
with blessings of heaven above,
blessings of the deep that lies beneath,
blessings of the breasts and of the womb.
The blessings of your father
are stronger than the blessings of the eternal mountains,
the bounties of the everlasting hills;
may they be on the head of Joseph,
on the brow of him who was set apart from his brothers.
- Genesis 49:24b-26
The word “bless” is a translation of the Hebrew word “barakh.” Among other things, God blesses nature, the Sabbath, individuals, and nations. In turn, we bless God through worship and praise (Psalm 89). Like Jacob, people can bless their children. In Genesis 49:10 Jacob blesses the tribe of Judah, saying, “the scepter will not depart from Judah ... until Shiloh comes,” that is, he to whom the scepter belongs. The scepter or staff is a symbol of sovereignty. Commentators, including rabbis, believe this is a messianic promise, that is, pointing to the advent of a Savior who will enter earth-time. For Christians this is Jesus Christ.
I think there are two driving forces in the Bible: soteriology, a presentation of the way of salvation, and eschatology, a setting forth of last things in time. Salvation entered the last days in the person of Jesus Christ. As John Stott says, “Christianity is a rescue religion.” This is behind Paul’s concern for “the good of many, so that they may be saved” (1 Cor. 10:33).
How did Jesus save? Through his words and teaching, miracles and healing (Mark 7), through forgiving sins, which only God can do, and by dying on the cross. Through his death we are saved from death itself (John 3:16; Romans 6:23; John 11:25-26; et al). This is why Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Rev. 19:16).
- Carol Lichtenberg