Today we will finish reading the blessings of Moses with the blessing of Asher and his final words to Israel. Moses’ prophetic words have taught us so much about our identity in Christ. Today is no different. We have learned how blessed with are, but today we will learn that we are deeply blessed, that we have so much reason to be happy that it is a wonder we don’t go through life dancing and singing. Verse 24 reads,
And of Asher he said,
“Most blessed of sons be Asher;
let him be the favorite of his brothers,
and let him dip his foot in oil.”
Most blessed of sons be Asher, he is the happiest of Jacob’s sons and that trait passed on to his descendants. That happiness, that joy made him a favorite of his brothers. Joseph was Jacob’s favorite, but Asher was the favorite of his brothers. He was well loved by people because of his disposition. Even his name means happy. Leah, his mother’s maid was so overjoyed at his birth that she named him for it.
People are attracted to happy people, to joyful people who wear their blessings naturally, not flaunted but enjoyed. Joyfulness praises the Lord throughout the day through the acknowledgment that there is something to be happy about. Some people, myself included don’t tend toward a natural state of joy but joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). The believer should have a supernatural joy about her.
I confess when my flesh is overcoming my spirit (when I am letting my natural tendencies toward sin and selfishness overtake the supernatural tendencies of the Spirit to express Jesus Christ’s nature instead of my own) I am disposed to be visibly and outwardly melancholy. When I am under attack, I wear my suffering like a badge, whatever illness, depression, and wounds I have are obvious to the world. I may as well paint them on a banner and parade them. But that is not what my Lord means for me nor for you. He tells us to be blessed, to be happy. He tells us to show our praise and joy to the world. He did after all come to give us gladness and praise instead of mourning and weakness. Isaiah 61:2-3 reads,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
3 to grant to those who mourn in Zion--
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
People showed their joy by dressing appropriately, by anointing their heads with oil, wearing clothes without holes and generally taking the time to care about their appearance. If one were in mourning he would tear his clothes, wear ashes on his head and until he was done mourning he wouldn’t bother with caring about how he looked. Asher’s joy meant not only did he anoint his head with oil, he dipped his feet in oil as well. Even his feet, lowly dirty things that they are, are anointed with oil because he is so happy. His life is a life of joy and it shows.
The Bible tells us of two different occasions Jesus’ feet were anointed with oil, once by Lazarus’ sister Mary (John 12:1-8) and once by a sinful woman (Luke 7:36-50). Both were prophetic expressions of deep gratitude symbolizing Jesus as the Bridegroom of the church who would lay down His life for His bride. Jesus looked at His crucifixion as joyful, even though He fully knew how horrible it would be. He endured knowing it would happen, He persevered through His tortuous death because He kept in mind the hope of the Resurrection, the conquering of sin, and the joy of our eternal life (Hebrews 12:1-2). We will suffer too. Yet we are called to endure it, we are even called to consider it all joy (James 1:2-4). We can do that because we know it has a purpose and we know that we have hope.
How will anyone else ever know the joy we have, if we don’t live joyfully? If we whine and moan through life, no one will ever question our difference because who would want to moan and whine through life? Isn’t that what too many people do already? Peter told us to always have an answer ready to defend our hope (1 Peter 3:15). That means we should be living life in a hopeful manner, with apparent joy regardless of the circumstances of life.
Deep joy like that gives us strength. If we build our happiness on the Truth of God, the basis for our joy cannot be shaken, we cannot be shaken because we know God cannot be shaken. Verse 25 reads,
“Your bars shall be iron and bronze,
and as your days, so shall your strength be.”
We mourn when we realize we are sinners in need of repentance. We become broken hearted at the recollection of our sin, but God forgives! Jesus is our Salvation! What a wonderful reason to rejoice. He has called us to be glad, to celebrate the grace not wallow in the sin. When the people of Israel had gathered and heard the reading of the scripture they realized their sin and they mourned, but Ezra spoke to them and said,
“This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep. Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:9-10).
Our joy is praise to God. Our exultation (expressed joy and celebration) is an ongoing prayer and song of thanksgiving to the Lord. Psalm 28:6-9 says it this way,
Blessed be the Lord!
For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.
7 The Lord is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to him.
8 The Lord is the strength of his people;
he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
9 Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!
Be their shepherd and carry them forever.
Why do we have joy in the Lord? Because of who He is and what He has done and is doing for us. Verses 26-28 read,
“There is none like God, O Jeshurun,
who rides through the heavens to your help,
through the skies in his majesty.
27 The eternal God is your dwelling place,
and underneath are the everlasting arms.
And he thrust out the enemy before you
and said, ‘Destroy.’
28 So Israel lived in safety,
Jacob lived alone,
in a land of grain and wine,
whose heavens drop down dew.”
Jeshurun is another name for Israel, a term of affection for them. There is none like The LORD God. He rescues us. He will ride His white horse as King of kings through the clouds for our salvation. Revelation 19:11-16 reads,
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself.13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.”
We can rejoice because as Great and Mighty as He is, The Lord is our dwelling place. We rest in Him. He is never-ending power, ceaseless strength, and unending protection. He holds us in His arms and He defeats the enemy with those same arms. God is good and we can celebrate. God is great and we can be happy. Verse 29 reads,
“Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you,
a people saved by the Lord,
the shield of your help,
and the sword of your triumph!
Your enemies shall come fawning to you,
and you shall tread upon their backs.”
We are unique, no people are like us because no god is like God. We are called to live in joy, shining with happiness and glorifying the Lord. How will people ever want to know who He is if they do not see our distinctive joy celebrate Him? We don’t have to go through life in ashes of mourning, anxiety, or fear. We have Jesus Christ. We exemplify Him through joy. We are blessed, happy because He is The LORD our God.