THIS SERIES: BRINGING HOME THE FEAST
After Jesus ascended into Heaven, He sat down at the Father’s right hand, having declared that all authority had been given to Him in Heaven and on earth. All authority.
He had battled the principalities and powers of darkness, all that held sway over human affairs, and had overcome; even death itself could not hold Him.
…He raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,
far above all rule and authority, power and dominion,
and every name that is invoked,
not only in the present age but also in the one to come. [Ephesians 1:20-21]
Therefore, God exalted Him to the highest place
and gave Him the Name that is above every name,
that at the Name of Jesus
every knee should bow in Heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Christ ‘has gone into Heaven and is at God’s right hand
–with angels, authorities and powers in submission to Him.
[1 Peter 3:22]
But there’s more. Jesus did all this as a man [Philippians 2:6-11], taking back what the first man, Adam, lost [1 Corinthians 15:22]. And just as we by faith identify with the death and resurrection of Christ, becoming new creations,* so we identify with His ascension, for God has ‘raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus’ [Ephesians 2:6]. Heaven is not just somewhere we go when we die; Heaven is our natural habitat now. (Let’s pray for the revelation to see it!). This means we live from Heaven to earth.
A PEOPLE OF BLESSING
Before Jesus ascended into heaven, we read that He blessed the disciples:
When (Jesus) had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany,
He lifted up His hands and blessed them.
While He was blessing them,
He left them and was taken up into heaven.
Biblical blessing is much more than expressing a nice sentiment. The Hebrew verb ‘barak’ means 'to cause to prosper', and a blessing spoken over someone was understood to invoke God’s favour on them.
In fact, the act of blessing, was seen as so powerful, that when Isaac realised he had inadvertently blessed Jacob instead of Esau, he was unable to revoke it, and said to Esau “I have made (Jacob) lord over you and have made all his relatives his servants, and I have sustained him with grain and new wine. So what can I possibly do for you, my son?”
In the Torah, one of the important roles for the priests was to pronounce blessings on the people (in addition to carrying the Ark, and ministering to the Lord [Deuteronomy 10:8]). Every Christian is a member of a new priesthood, after the order of Melchizedek, and we also have a priestly function. In addition to worshipping the Lord, and carrying His presence with us, we have a charge to release the blessings of Heaven on our spheres of influence.
The familiar blessing from Numbers is a good place to start. Notice that the pronouncement of this blessing ‘puts the Lord's name’—and all that His name represents (see the verse from Philippians above)—on the people!
'This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:
"The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make His face shine on you and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn His face toward you and give you peace."
So they will put My Name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.'
Alternatively, you could use this area blessing from the Ffald-y-Brenin retreat centre:
We stand in the mighty Name of Jesus and bless you, (name of area), that you might prosper under the mighty hand of God.
We bless you that justice and righteousness might take their proper place
within your boundaries.
We bless you that the favour of the Lord might rest upon you and give you peace.
We bless you that the Father’s compassion might fall upon your people.
We bless your poor that they might be lifted up.
We bless you that the knowledge of Jesus might come in amongst you like a flood.
We bless the people of God in this (place, region),
that they might rise up with Servant authority
and become a people of blessing.
We bless you that the joy of the Lord might be your strength.
Or their comprehensive ‘Friday Blessing’ (see the PDF below).
Rest comes from knowing who is in charge. And from that place of rest, we can live fruitful lives—seeing the Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven. As we celebrate the Ascension next week, let’s consider adding to our declarations from high places (see last week’s blog), the Lord's blessing on all that we see.
*See A Brand New Life and The Power of Biblical Baptism for more on the changes that take place when we become Christians.
The Friday Blessing PDF:
LOOKING TOWARDS PENTECOST: FESTIVAL OF GRACE
God's solution for our shortfall...
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