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WHAT A COMMAND!
by Philip Owen

            For good or ill, many spend a lot of time thinking about giving and spend a lot of  money  actually giving at this time of year.  All proper giving finds its pattern in our God Who is the Supreme Giver.  Virtually everyone who knows the Lord probably can quote the proof text for that proposition:  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).  Vast numbers of passages could be adduced to make the point that God is by nature a giver.  Although many verses are more familiar, few are more powerful than one in Deuteronomy:  “The Lord will command the blessing upon you” (28:8).  Some observations follow.

            God is the only Source of blessing.  Every blessing derives from the command of God.  Many a believer has pursued and achieved some level of temporal success that he and those viewing him might call blessing, perhaps the girl of his dreams, a coveted job, a large investment portfolio, success in some athletic endeavor, or the applause of men.  But the attaining of such objects or objectives by dint of sheer determination or application of natural gifts is not blessing but burden.  The pursuit and acquisition of such things apart from the will and power of God are bane not blessing.  It is quite possible (and many have proven it) to be rich in those things that a casual observer might call blessing but actually be cursed because God has not authorized nor empowered their acquisition and does not approve their possession.  As the old proverb reminds: “All that glitters is not gold.”  Much that many deem valuable is mere refuse because it has gotten in the way of God’s purposes and His glory.  Self-generated gains may glitter for a moment, but like fool’s gold they have no value ultimately.

            God is committed to and insistent upon blessing.  Few statements could make the point more forcefully—“The Lord will command the blessing upon you”—that God is earnest in His generosity.  We need not endeavor to wheedle or trick blessing from God (as if that were possible).  We cannot bargain, barter, or buy blessing from God.  Goodness and grace (from which all His giving derive) are as essential a part of His nature as are holiness and righteousness.  We may and we must expect God to bless us.  Any other view of God dishonors His name:  Jehovah-Jireh, sometimes translated as “the Lord will provide.”  The essence of faith resides in the assurance that God is a good and bountiful Giver.  God instructed the nation of Judah to tithe with this challenge:  “test Me now in this . . . if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows” (Mal. 3:10).  What holy and authoritative character there is in that verb command!  Blessing does not just happen.  It is not the product of chance, or accident, luck, or circumstance.  It is not even the product of diligent, faithful work.  God must and does command blessing, or there is none.  Blessing is the fruit of His divine will.  Every blessing He deigns—consciously, deliberately, lovingly.  Not the smallest blessing sneaks in under the radar of His notice.  Each and every one comes by His conscious choice and deliberate act.  And if God commands it, who is able to prevent it?  God ordains blessing.  We could more easily stop the wind than God’s blessing. 

            Now these things are written to those who are not living in sin.  God chastens His rebellious children (see all of Deuteronomy 27 and 28), but He does so with the intention of restoring them to blessing.  Should we ever squirm at some commandment the Lord gives us, may we be both rebuked and encouraged by this command:  “the Lord will command the blessing upon you.”

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