Abraham’s Blessing a Primal Creation Power

The Abrahamic covenant rests on the four great pillars of chapters 12, 15, 17 and 22 which we briefly touched on in the last four posts. Chapters 12 and 15 focus on the land motif, where the Promised Land is understood theologically, a return to Eden. Chapters 17 and 22 focus on the seed motif, where Abraham’s offspring will fill the earth and bless the nations, thus fulfilling the cultural mandate given to Adam in the garden. Land, specifically the Land of Israel, becomes the new Eden from which Abraham, the new “first man,” and his seed will spread forth and bring creation blessing to the world at large. Thus, God’s original design for creation to be a cosmic temple will be fulfilled, where God and humanity will live together in communion.

This process can only come about through a primal power that underlies the cosmic temple, and that is the power blessing. God blessed creation at various stages. It is then and only then does creation actually function as it was intended to function in the mind of God. Blessing sets everything in motion. So when God blessed Abraham, He established Him to be the priest in His cosmic Temple. When we see this, everything in the Bible falls into place with regard to calling, election, and predestination. It is not as if God pulls out a few lucky souls out of the mass of humanity doomed to destruction. Everything about creation, everything about the cosmic temple, is functional. Abraham, like Israel after him, was to be a priest to the nations and reverse the effect of the fall that culminated with Babel and the subsequent judgment of scattering and language/cultural confusion. The tabernacle, and later the Temple on Mount Zion, become the place from which blessing flowed. The High Priest gave the blessing to the people at the temple, the formula of which is found in Numbers 6:24-26 where the divine name YHWH is used 3 times (triple utterance signifies perfection), and all the rest of the words add up to 12, the number of the tribes of Israel. The whole blessing crescendos to “shalom,” which is the state to which God’s blessing takes us, a state of fullness, purpose, contentment, and glory. From there the people were to be a ‘priestly royalty,” like Adam in the garden, to fill the earth with creation blessing.

Blessings are not mere words. For that matter, curses are not mere words either. I remember almost hitting a biker years ago, and felt his curses hurled upon me. To this day I remember them even though I never new this man. Curses uttered even casually are extremely effective, and their power is to deny a person the opportunity to find their way and purpose in creation. Cain was separated from the earth, a wanderer (Gen. 4:12). Many people cannot function well in life either because they are under curses, or because they were denied a blessing. On the other hand, blessings essentially empower persons to be all that God created them to be, and allow them to fulfill their unique destiny on earth. Isaac’s blessing on Jacob, even though intended for Esau, demonstrates this power in Genesis 27:27ff. The words of the blessing are a reversal of the curse in 3:17 (“… the smell of the field which God has blessed,” the “dew of heaven” and “fatness of the earth,” and rule/dominion is suggestive of the ground before the curse). There was no real blessing for Esau; all that was left for him was the desert, violence, and rebellion (27:39-40).

In a world that thinks of power in terms of athletic strength, sexual prowess, and weaponry, the power of blessing seems like a rather quaint idea. The truth of the matter is that creation as cosmic temple is a fundamentally relational system built by divine word, and nothing works as it should without a blessing.

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