Thursday, May 18, 2017

Thanksgiving and Blessings were a Regular Part of Yeshua’s Life

The follow quote is from a very good book written by Dr. Brad H. Young, Jesus the Jewish Theologian (Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.; Peabody, Massachusetts; pp. 119-120). I changed the word “Jesus” to “Yeshua”, and added highlights to the text, to better fit the subject matter of this blog.

The actions of Yeshua and his disciples regarding prayer have deep roots in the Jewish customs and practices of the Second Temple period.

Already in the daily life of Yeshua and his disciples, thanksgiving and blessing were an integral part of their everyday experience and customary practice. For instance, pronouncing a blessing to God before eating was the common practice of Yeshua and his circle of followers. Reflected both in early Jewish literature and in the liturgy of the synagogue, from Bible times to the present, it is a fact that the Jewish people have made giving thanks a significant part of every aspect of daily life. In Jewish theology no tasks should be considered mundane, because God sanctifies every facet of human experience in the life that he gives.

The rabbis viewed all people as stewards of God’s benevolence. Each person is created in God’s image. Every one is given responsibility to obey God in God’s domain and to care for the beautiful world that God designed for his people. The foundation of the Jewish understanding of thanksgiving and blessing was the belief in God’s goodness and his creation. The people were taught to give thanks to God for his goodness.

The sages developed a radical approach to life which encouraged a person to bless God and give thanks for every benefit received from God’s creation. Hence, at every meal a person should give thanks to God, who provided the food. The written word of the Bible itself formed the basis for this approach to God’s provision.

Deuteronomy 8:10 is the basis of the Jewish concept of giving thanks to God in the form of a blessing for a meal: “You shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.” The foundation of blessing God for his goodness is derived from the Torah. The phrase “and you shall bless the Lord your God,” was understood, in part, as a way of giving thanks to God for the grace he gives to all people.


Did you note that “one blesses Yahweh;” “one does bless material objects (food or drinks)”? Today, the Jewish blessing you hear at meals is the one below. Notice that “the Lord” (Yahweh) is blessed, not the “bread,” which is understood to mean “meal.”



Barukh atah Adonai Elohaynu melekh ha-olam
Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the Universe

ha-motzi lechem min ha-aretz. (Amein)
who brings forth bread from the earth. (Amen)

Above Dr. Young stated, “The foundation of blessing God for his goodness is derived from the Torah.” I would modify that statement to say this – “The foundation of blessing God for his TOVness.”

The first creation account in Genesis reveals how the Creator prepared the Heavens and the Earth for the arrival of mankind. Day after day the Creator examined his work for each day; the text says, “And God saw that it was TOV” (translated “good”). In that context “TOV” describes “acts that are beautiful and pleasing to the eyes that protect lives, preserve lives, make lives more functional and/or increase the quality of lives.” They bless God for many other things daily, because they are surrounded by things He created for mankind – they are blessing Him for His TOVness!

If someone wants to know what is “TOV and praiseworthy” that he or she should “thank God for,” they are to consider what life would be like without it – all of the things we require for survival “suddenly become sacred things that Yahweh deserves thanks for!” Think about that for a few minutes and you will understand why some Jews today easily blessing Yahweh over 100 each day for those things. Things that are often considered common today become holy when we bless God for creating them for mankind.

Shalom,
Jim Myers

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