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Abraham, My Friend_10

By Ron Bailey


      Abraham, My Friend
      The Making of a Praying Man

      Chapter Two: The Blessing
      This is the way you shall bless

      An excursis is an academic expression. It means a digression in the narrative; a detour. Most preachers use detours in the course of their preaching. Some exceptional preachers can actually start with a detour. Let's start with a detour.

      I find my meditation is lingering on the thoughts of ‘blessing'. For the people of Israel under the law (and for good Anglicans) ‘The Blessing' could only mean one thing.

      And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying:
      Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them:

      "The LORD bless you and keep you;
      The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you;
      The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace."'

      "So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them." [Num 6:22ff]

      These words can become so familiar that we miss the powerful implications of them. These words empowered the Levitical priesthood to impart God's blessing to His people. See the flow of the ideas, you do this and I will do this. This is the way you shall bless... ...and I will bless them. If certain people do certain things on earth it will have a guaranteed effect in heaven. You shall bless... and I will bless. Follow the movement in this verse;

      1. God gives specific authority to certain people and then
      2. they cause something to happen on earth
      3. that causes something to happen in heaven
      4. that causes something to happen on earth.

      Ah, you say, but that was then...

      Well, let's look at a New Testament equivalent. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. [Matt 16:19] If certain people do things on earth it will have a guaranteed effect in heaven; you shall...on earth, and it shall be...in heaven. Now think about the implications of this for a moment; a human being standing on earth, in a moment of time, can change heaven and eternity.

      The tenses of this verse are mind-blowing; And I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven. And whatever you bind on earth shall occur, having been bound in Heaven. And whatever you may loose on the earth shall be, having been loosed in Heaven. Green's Literal Translation. Follow the movement in this verse;

      1. God gives specific authority to certain people and then
      2. they cause something to happen on earth
      3. that causes something to happen in heaven
      4. that causes something to happen on earth.

      It goes from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven, and from heaven back to earth again. I sometimes say that angels are the fastest creatures in the universe; [Ezek 1:14] says they run and return like a flash of lightening. (At a conservative reckoning that would put their speed at 372000 miles per second. I'm making a point, not setting up speed trials.   As God sends them on their missions He says ‘Go' and swoosh they are back, waiting for the next job.) But prayer is even faster; God says pray this and the instant you pray it I will do it.

      ‘The Blessing' and the use of the ‘keys of the kingdom of heaven' have exactly the same shape. It is this co-working together with God that is one of the great truths about prayer. Wesley was at his most Arminian when he said God does nothing but in answer to prayer, but there is a profound truth here. There are things that God has determined to do in certain ways, by certain people, and they will be done in His way or not at all. In Ezekiel He makes wonderful promises to the nation of Israel and then says Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them; I will increase them with men like a flock. [Ezek 36:37] This is God saying this is what I am going to do, and this is how I am going to do it; I am going to do it through your prayer.

      But before we rush out to try it, we need to observe my oft-repeated phrase ‘certain people'. This is not something that anyone can do at any time. Only specifically authorised people can act for God in blessing and prayer; Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel'... Or people like Peter who have received personal revelation of the Christ and whose lives are rightly related to the Builder, and to whom the Lord can say 'I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou...' These are not generalisations but specific authorisation.

      Here's a detour from a detour... The priests underwent a specific placing in their roles which is a picture of regeneration. [Lev 8] The mediator of the covenant (Moses for the Old Covenant/Jesus for the New. Read Lev 8 and see how the Mediator is responsible for this whole process) stripped them to the skin and bathed them in the laver. [Titus 3:5] Then he clothed them and sprinkled them with blood and oil. [Luke 24:49] Then he filled their hands with bread. [Luke 11:8] Then they shared a meal in communion with each other and with the High Priest. Then they remained in the presence of God for seven days and seven nights; 24x7 God-consciousness. These, and none other, were the men who were authorised to bless in the name of Jehovah.

      Or men like Abraham, a man who the Lord will take and strip of every earthly confidence and resource. A man who will be brought to the place where God is his only defence and treasure. A man who will be trained to hear the voice of God. A man who will be brought into the covenant of a living communion with God. A man who will bear the pain of God's choices in his life. A man who can become a blessing to others, because he is a man under authority. A man whose loyalties are so undivided that the Lord can say of him...'Abraham, my Friend'.

      These are the men and women who will pray on earth and bring down heaven's blessing. The early Church were such, as Charles Wesley told in one of his hymns;

      On God they cast their every care,
      Wrestling with God in mighty prayer
      They claimed the grace through Jesus given,
      By prayer they shut, and opened heaven.

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