Dimensions (2.1.2) — Messianic Judaism & LDS Culture Juxtaposed: Blessing

This entry is part 6 of 8 in the series Dimensions
God blessing man – V – man blessing God

Note: this post is closely related to the prior post regarding praise. If you haven’t read that post, it would be better to start there (but, if you are like me, you probably won’t :- ).

Note: yes, I recognize the apparent hypocrisy in not exploring all the various definitions (i.e., dimensions) of the word bless (blessing). Like the caveat in the discussion on praise, the focus here is on a singular dimension generally deemphasized in LDS culture. So, we exclude person-to-person blessing, etc.

Our understanding is that the Hebrew word בָּרוּךְ (baruch : blessed) is closely related to the word בָרֶךְ (barech : knee / kneeling) and that one might imagine a person kneeling before God while praising and blessing Him. It is common practice in the synagogue to bow slightly and bend the knee when this word (baruch) is voiced in conjunction with one of the many names or titles of God. On the flip side, it is imagined that God bends the knee as He reaches down to bless a child. During actual worship service, it is less frequent to hear requests for blessings from God than it is to hear the congregation blessing God. During prayer meetings, where the focus is on the needs of members of the fellowship and the world in general, the opposite is true.

In LDS culture, blessings are pretty unidirectional. God blesses man. In our prayers, we ask for blessings (“we ask for things we need”). An archetype might be the blessing on the sacrament “we ask Thee to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those that partake of it….” In a common variation priesthood holders give blessings to others, acting as voice for God. God blesses man through man.

If we search LDS conference addresses from 1971 to present, we find on the order of 11,000 references to bless (in its various forms). A relative few relate to our blessing God, but they do exist:

In every one of these instances, the families who lost a loved one expressed increased faith, increased love for the Savior, increased gratitude for the Atonement, and heartfelt thankfulness for an organization that responds to the deepest emotional and spiritual needs of its members. These families now speak about how they got to know the Lord through their adversity. They relate many sweet experiences that grew out of their pain. They testify that blessings can emerge from heartbreak. They give praise to the Lord and would echo the words of Job, “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).  (2007, October, Richard C. Edgley, ‘Enduring Together,’ Ensign, November 2007)

As in the above example, many of these are scriptural quotes and others are third person references. Some of these are powerful quotes.

[Then] in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God. (2003, April, L. Tom Perry, ‘The Importance of the Family,’ Ensign, May 2003)

Have you disengaged—even slightly—from “the … gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to [your] trust”?Have you allowed “the god of this world” to darken your minds to “the light of the glorious gospel of Christ”? (2014, October, Dieter F. Uchtdorfᵇ, ‘“Lord, Is It I?”,’ Ensign, November 2014)

In my searches of conference talks, I found more direct blessing of the names of men than I did of the name of God. Rather ironic, no?

I am among the tens of thousands of descendants of that boy and that girl who bless the names of two priesthood holders who brought the ministrations of the Spirit of God with them as they climbed the hill in Switzerland and rose to speak in that meeting in St. Louis. (2010, October, Henry B. Eyringᵇ, ‘Serve with the Spirit,’ Ensign, November 2010, ¶ 10)

There aren’t so many scriptural quotes for blessing God as there are for praising God. Nevertheless, those few establish in a profound way the appropriateness of this form of praise.

…she arose and stood upon her feet, and cried with a loud voice, saying: O blessed Jesus, who has saved me from an awful hell! O blessed God, have mercy on this people! (Alma 19:29)

And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen. (Luke 24:51–53)

So, again in this case — in this dimension — the Messianic Jews appear to do a better job of exemplifying the gospel than we do.

Series Navigation<< Dimensions (2.1.1) — Messianic Judaism & LDS Culture Juxtaposed: PraiseDimensions (2.1.3) — Messianic Judaism & LDS Culture Juxtaposed: Worship Meetings >>

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