“Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.” Isaiah 19:25
Blessed – You can easily imagine the reaction of the Jews when Isaiah relayed this message from God. Shock! Disgust! How could God call Egypt His people and Assyria the work of His hands? Didn’t that special status belong only to the Chosen Ones?
On Christmas Day the world, all the world, was blessed by God. Egypt, that symbol of persecution and oppression, of past sin and despair, and Assyria, that symbol of pride and self-sufficiency, of ego exultation and celebrity thinking; both are blessed along with God’s chosen inheritance. God draws a full circle around all Mankind and calls them all blessed.
In order to understand just how tight this circle really is, we need to know something about the Hebrew word barukh (to be blessed). Barukh ‘ammi says God: “Blessed be my people”. Barukh is a word that establishes or acknowledges an intimate connection between the one who blesses and the one who is blessed. The very action of blessing means that I draw you into a special relationship with me. I make you more than a simple recipient of my favor. I make you my friend. When Jesus told his disciples that they were no longer to be considered servants but were now declared to be friends, Jesus was the one who initiated the blessing of intimacy. He made them friends by drawing them into the closest circle of relationship. Jesus was simply fulfilling the desire of God’s heart. Barukh ‘ammi. Be blessed my people. Be in closest relationship with me because I desire it and I have made it possible.
Centuries before the Savior was born, God reached out to embrace the world in blessing. The plan to bring us into close relationship with Him was never a new plan. It was always the only plan. God makes friends of enemies. That is His way. I am so glad that He is the God of blessing friendship. I have lived in Egypt. I have set up house in Assyria. I am not from Israel. But God didn’t care. He threw open His arms and invited me, the desperate Egyptian and the haughty Assyrian, to become His friend. He didn’t wait for me to establish an intimate relationship before He granted me His favor. He acted first, in benevolence toward me. He declared me His friend.
Do you truly accept the awesome implications of barukh ‘ammi? As my friend Steve told me, “God isn’t mad at you”. God has already decided to make me His friend. It doesn’t matter where I have been, how I have lived, what I am carrying. God calls me “my people”. If He blesses me with intimate relationship before I even want to live for Him, how much more will I aware of His blessing when I actually like being His friend?