*The study for this passage was completed by the author and applied in the adaptation of a work published by Desiring God Ministries. Footnotes are placed where material has been quoted. However, much of the content communicated here has been learned from and adapted from the resources quoted and noted below. Please see the link to order the book for a fuller treatment of this subject.
Gospel Faith in the Old Testament
Genesis 48:8-22; 49
- 1. Jacob blessed his children in faith
A. What is a blessing?
(for a fuller treatment of blessing see Rolf Gorborg, The Family Blessing (Dallas: Word Publishing Company, 1990. See also “A Father’s Guide To Blessing his Children” from www.childrendesiringgod.org the points of application are taken from “A Father’s Guide to Blessing his Children”)
There seem to be a couple of categories of blessing in Scripture.
There is the more prophetic blessing and an ordinary blessing.
Let’s distinguish between them.
There is a distinction between a prophetic blessing and an ordinary blessing.
Prophetic blessings were extraordinary and mainly associated with God’s covenant purposes as they unfolded from one generation to the next.
For example, when Isaac blessed Jacob (Genesis 27) because of being tricked by Jacob, this prophetic blessing was not revocable.
Even when Isaac realized he had been tricked, he could not reverse this prophetic covenantal blessing (Genesis 27:33ff).
(There was also something deeper and grander happening in this blessing as well regarding to the establishment of Father’s rule over his creatures, see Romans 9:11 and surrounding passages)
This is seen again at the end of Jacob’s life when he blesses Joseph’s sons.
Jacob puts his right hand of blessing on Ephraim, the younger one, rather than Manasseh, the older, in a prophetically significant event that would cause Ephraim and Judah, who was blessed positively as well, to be at the head of Israel’s exploits as a people and nation.
Now, in no way do I want to minimize the spiritual significance of an ordinary blessing.
But when I place my hands on my boys or look them in the eyes and say,
“May the Lord make you worthy of his calling and may he fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
I am, in a Gospel purchased faith, calling down Father’s favor on them in the HOPE, that by the work of the Gospel, they will be a men who are strong in the Lord and fulfills their created purpose in the Kingdom.
I am NOT declaring, in a prophetic sense, that they will become that just because I have pronounced this on them.
Much of what Jacob did was prophetic in nature. However, that is not the only place in Scripture where the people of the Lord and the servants of the Lord blessed each other and the people in general.
The ordinary blessing is spoken by one person to another and should be done in the name of the Lord.
Rolf Gorborg gives a great summary of this type of blessing by defining it as “the intentional act of speaking God’s favor and power into someone’s life, often accompanied by a symbolic gesture such as laying hands on the person.”
How are we to understand the blessing?
Blessing – family inclusion (can include provision of resources, gifts, abilities, etc.), being treated as a member of the family with all the benefits that come from being a member of that family as well as all of the purpose of being a member of that family.
A blessing is not a prayer. In a prayer we ask Father for things.
A blessing, however, comes from Father and is directed toward his people.
When we bless we are invoking, summoning or calling on Father’s blessing for the benefit of another. When we bless, we become an avenue for Father’s blessing through us to another. Our words are powerful and full of life and death.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat it’s fruits.”
The reason our words are powerful is because language and communication is an “Imago Dei”, image of God, issue. Father is a communicator and words, language and literature are works that exist because Father communicates and made us in his image with the ability to communicate as he does. Therefore, when we communicate, we either communicate out of the life of the Gospel or the death of the fall. Be careful how you communicate.
This is why the preacher must be right and must not take this office without fear and trembling.
Therefore, often when we speak a blessing we are speaking the inspired words of Scripture over a person and therefore, speaking life to them.
Sometimes when we speak a blessing we are speaking ideas inspired and adapted from words of Scripture over a person, and likewise, speak life to them.
Let’s take a look quickly at one of the blessings spoken in Scripture.
The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them,
The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
“So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”
1. Blessing is the work of the Lord, ultimately
2. Blessing is putting the Lord’s name on the Lord’s people
3. Blessing is something we, as priests of the Lord, can be part of as ministers
of his grace to lead, heal and comfort
4. Blessing, as putting the Lord’s name on his people, invites the tangible
evidences of the Lord’s blessing (family inclusion)
5. Blessing is a verbal action coming from the heart transformed by the Gospel
6. Blessing is a physical action coming from the heart transformed by the
Jesus gives this authority to his disciples to bless
And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.
But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!
We have a responsibility and authority to bless
It was the Levitical priesthood that was giving the instructions to bless.
Because the Scriptures affirm that through the work of the Gospel all believers are priests to the Lord (1 Peter 2:5) and the general instructions given by the Lord himself and the Apostle Paul (Luke 6:28 “bless those who curse you…”; Romans 12:14 “bless those who persecute you…”) it is fully appropriate for New Covenant believers to bless others biblically, particularly us fathers.
What are some results of blessing?
1. The blessing exalts Father as the source of all blessing for the joy of his people 
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.
2. Blessing helps us think eternally
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The LORD will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.
As we bless our children we can be sure that Father hears and remembers these biblical blessings. He remembers today and will remember decades from now.
These blessings can extend far beyond our time into times of deep legacy when our great grand children will be kneeling over their children and blessing them with these rich hopes for the future of them in the Kingdom of God.
For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
3. Blessing gives our children a vision for what we desire most for them
Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
4. Blessing can be a means of comfort and reassurance that Father is present and at work
I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.
5. Blessing can help strengthen bonds of affection between children and parents
There is something magical that happens when you look into your kid’s eyes and bless them with the divine and holy words of Scripture.
I can see it in their eyes and feel it as we communicate over this stuff.
6. Blessing encourages men in their roles as spiritual leaders
Men, this is a great responsibility and joy you have to be an ambassador of Father’s blessing to your children.