Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:26-28
One of the reggae hits of the 1970s has a line that said “Man was made to suffer, yeah, and women were made to feel the pain…” Nothing could be further from the truth! It was not so at the beginning. God made man in His image and likeness and placed him in a beautiful garden called Eden. Everything was prepared and ready before man came on the scene. Adam was to ‘dress and keep it,’ he was to responsibly care and maintain his new home. (Gen 2:15). Though work came before the fall, but it was pleasant work; it was fruitful labour. In a sense, Adam and Eve thrived in Eden. It was only after the fall that the nature of man’s work changed. He was now to ‘toil and till’ and the result would be “thorns and thistles.” (Gen 3:17-19).
To flourish basically means to thrive, to do well, to be successful. It is what happens when a plant is in a right environment. Not to flourish is to not do well, to fail. Power simply means ability or capacity. Therefore, power to flourish is the ability or capacity to do well or to be successful. God endowed man with this power at the beginning. After God created man, He blessed him. The word bless is from the Hebrew word barak which means to endue with power for success, fruitfulness and prosperity. When God blessed Adam, He imbued something into him, He empowered Adam to flourish. The working of that power in Adam would cause him to succeed. As the scriptures say, “The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, And He adds no sorrow with it.” Proverbs 10:22
ABRAHAM WAS A PATTERN
God called Abraham and promised to bless him and make him a blessing (Gen 12:1-3). God was going to endue Abraham with the ability or capacity to succeed. Later, God would hold out Abraham as a reference point for blessing. “Listen to me, all who hope for deliverance— all who seek the LORD! Consider the rock from which you were cut, the quarry from which you were mined. 2 Yes, think about Abraham, your ancestor, and Sarah, who gave birth to your nation. Abraham was only one man when I called him. But when I blessed him, he became a great nation.” (Isa 51:1-2 NLT). The Message Version even makes it clearer: “Yes, ponder Abraham, your father, and Sarah, who bore you. Think of it! One solitary man when I called him, but once I blessed him, he multiplied.” (Isaiah 51:2 MSG). The blessing was the power that caused increase in Abraham’s life.
That power was also at work in Isaac (Gen 26). God instructed Isaac not to go down to Egypt but to stay where He wanted him. Isaac obeyed and God blessed him. “Then Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold; and the LORD blessed him. 13 The man began to prosper, and continued prospering until he became very prosperous (Gen 26:12-13).
The blessing became like a baton that each patriarch passed on to the other. When Isaac was about to die, he wanted to empower his firstborn son, Esau by blessing him (Gen 27). Unfortunately, Rebekah connived with Jacob to deceived Isaac; Jacob received the blessing instead of Esau. When Esau realised what had happened, he was disconsolate. “When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, “Bless me—me also, O my father!”(Gen 27:34). But “ Isaac said to Esau, “I have made Jacob your master and have declared that all his brothers will be his servants. I have guaranteed him an abundance of grain and wine—what is left for me to give you, my son?” (Gen 27:37 NLT). Note the words of Isaac, “I have guaranteed him an abundance of grain and wine.” But Isaac did not give any material thing to Jacob, yet he said he had guaranteed for him abundance of grain and wine. Isaac was invariably confirming that by blessing Jacob, he had empowered him to flourish.
Esau was desperate and wanted the blessing anyhow. When he realised that he could not get it through his father Isaac he turned to the line of Ishmael to see whether he could get it from that line by marriage (Gen 28:6-9). Unfortunately, the blessing was to run through the covenant son, Isaac and not through Ishmael.
JACOB THE BLESSED MAN
In the life of Jacob we again see the outworking of the blessing. Isaac affirmed the blessing on Jacob and sent him off to Padanaram where he could get a wife from the lineage of Abraham (Gen 28:1-5). Isaac did not send Jacob off with any physical thing, just the blessing. Later, Jacob would say while praying to God for protection from Esau whom he was about to meet after 20 years of separation: “I am not worthy of all the unfailing love and faithfulness you have shown to me, your servant. When I left home and crossed the Jordan River, I owned nothing except a walking stick. Now my household fills two large camps!” (Gen 32:10). Although Jacob did not leave home with anything, he left with a spiritual substance that was working in him and for him. With only his staff he entered Laban’s house but the power was at work and there he prospered. Laban would testify concerning Jacob: “And Laban said to him, “Please stay, if I have found favor in your eyes, for I have learned by experience that the LORD has blessed me for your sake.” (Gen 30:27). Jacob too confirmed it: “For what you had before I came was little, and it has increased to a great amount; the LORD has blessed you since my coming. And now, when shall I also provide for my own house?” (Gen 30:30). Laban did everything to keep Jacob down but it is not possible to keep a blessed man down! God gave Jacob an idea that made him to flourish even when working for Laban (Gen 30:37:43).
TAP INTO THE POWER IN HIS PRESENCE
What Rebekah told Jacob is quite instructive: “So Rebekah spoke to Jacob her son, saying, “Indeed I heard your father speak to Esau your brother, saying, 7 ‘Bring me game and make savory food for me, that I may eat it and bless you in the presence of the LORD before my death.’ (Gen 27:6-7). Isaac wanted to pronounce the blessing in the presence of the Lord. This provides context to the blessing. Ultimately, it is God that confers the blessing using human vessels who are in a position to do so. It could be a parent or a servant of God. The blessing is transmitted from the greater to the lesser. “And without question, the person who has the power to give a blessing is greater than the one who is blessed.” (Heb. 7:7 NLT). There are people who are living a life of struggles today because they did not receive parental blessing. “Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. 2 “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: 3 If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.” (Eph. 6:1-3 NLT).
A study showed that one of the secrets to the exceptionalism of the Jewish people is their culture of blessing whether in their synagogues or in their homes. God had instituted a blessing formula that the Jews still observe to this day: “And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 23 “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them: 24 “The LORD bless you and keep you; 25 The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; 26 The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.” ’ 27 “So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.”” (Numbers 6:22-27). A cardinal responsibility of the priesthood was to continually bless the people (Deut 10:8).
The blessing empowers a person to flourish. We can now understand why Jabez cried out to God for blessing. “And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested.” (1 Chr 4:10). As a result, Jabez was more honourable than all his brothers (1 CHR 4:9). If he didn’t realise what was possible and cry out to God, he would have ended up a failure and a nobody.
There is power that can enable you to flourish despite the environment where you find yourself. The issue is not that you are not trying enough, it is simply that you need that tonic that causes little effort to amount to great outcomes. There is power that a person can connect to that can change their life forever. It is power for abundant and effective living, it is the power of the blessing. Cry out today for that power to be released upon your life. The Psalmist prayed: “With all my heart I want your blessings. Be merciful as you promised.” (Ps 119:58 NLT).