You’ve probably never been greeted with these words, or have you? You’ve heard people wish you a “Happy New Year,” or a “Blessed New Year,” so, you really have been wished an “Asher New Year,” for the Hebrew word asher is translated in our Bible by the words “blessed” and “happy.”
There are two verbs in the Hebrew–barak and ashar–meaning “to bless.” The first, barak, is used of God when He takes the initiative and blesses someone even when that person is undeserving. On the other hand, ashar is conditional. You have to do something to be blessed. It is used in the following verses which refer to those who trust in the Lord and seek refuge in Him:
— “How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” (Psa. 2:12)
— “O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him” (Psa. 34:8)
— “How blessed is the man who has made the LORD his trust” (Psa. 40:4).
— “How blessed is the man who trusts in Thee” (Psa. 84:12 cf Pr. 16:20).
— “How blessed is He whose hope is in the LORD his God” (Psa. 146:5).
We also find that a “blessed” man is one who submits to the authority of God and His Word (Psa. 112:1; 119:1,2; 128:1,4), is good to the poor (Psa 41:1-3; Pr. 14:21), and “does not walk in the counsel of the wicked nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers, but delights in the Law of the LORD” (Psa. 1:1-1-3).
You may also recall that Asher was the eighth son of Jacob, through Zilpah, the handmaid of Leah. Numbers in Scripture have significance. Forty, for example is a number of testing or trial; six is the number of man; seven the number of perfection and eight is the number designating new life or new beginning. Asher, being the eighth son of Jacob, represents “new beginning!” Add to that the meaning of Asher–blessed–and you have the idea of “Blessed New Beginning” or “Blessed New Year.” Asher also has the connotation of being straight, level, happy, right, honest, prosperous and going forward. Everyone of these synonyms enhance the sentiment of wishing someone “An Asher New Year.”
It was customary in the Old Testament for a patriarch, upon nearing death, to bless his descendants. From Jacob’s blessing his 12 sons (Gen. 49) and Moses’ blessing of the twelve tribes (Dt. 33) and from the references to the tribe of Asher throughout Scripture, we can draw some lessons about what it means to have “An Asher New Year.”
1) Asher was blessed in Prosperity (Gen. 49:20; Dt. 33:24,25). He was given the rich seacoast area north of Mount Carmel (cf Josh. 19:24-31). We, as believers,
are blessed in spiritual prosperity: “all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3); “Heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Ro. 8:16,17).
2) Asher was blessed in Posterity (“Let Asher be blessed with children”…Dt. 33:24 KJV). His was one of the few tribes that increased between censuses (Nu. 1 cf
Nu. 26…from 41,500 to 53,400 fighting men…a result of obedience and walking with the Lord.) Just as children are a blessing from the Lord (cf Psa. 127:3,5),
how much more so a spiritual posterity as we pass on our faith to our family, friends, co-workers, etc.
3) Asher was blessed in Peace (“May he be favored by his brothers”…Dt. 33:24). You will never find anywhere in Scripture where Asher had a quarrel with the other
tribes. The Psalmist said: “How good and how pleasant it is (i.e. how blessed) for brothers to dwell together in unity” (Psa. 133:1). Peace among brethren is
pictured as being as precious as the oil of priestly consecration and as refreshing as the early mountain dew (Psa. 133:2,3). Jesus said, “Blessed are the peace-
makers” (Mt. 5:9).
4) Asher was blessed in Promise (“As thy days, so shall thy strength be” …Dt. 33:25b KJV). No doubt Asher lived within the boundaries of this promise, thus
growing in numbers and peace and prosperity. We too have a similar promise in Phil. 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” To live within
the promises, as Asher, we need to live a day at a time, accepting God’s Grace for that day. We have many promises in God’s Word, many are conditional,
based upon obedience (Eg., Phil. 4:6,7; Eph. 6:1,2).
5) Asher was blessed in Prowess (valor, bravery, military daring and skill… The sons of Asher were ‘choice and might men of valor’ (I Chr. 7:40)… his soldiers were
“expert in war” (I Chr. 12:36), meaning that they were orderly, properly arrayed, and equipped for battle. We too need to “put on the whole armor of God”, “stand
fast” in our faith and wield the “sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:10-12). We need to stay alert (I Pet. 5:8).
6) Asher was blessed in Prayer (Lk. 2:36-38…Anna was of the tribe of Asher and never departed from the temple, but served God in fastings and prayers night
and day. And those were dark days, as heaven had been silent for 400 years. Very few people knew how to pray, but the heroine of Asher kept her vigil and
was rewarded by seeing Him who is the Redeemer of the world.) What a blessing prayer is–to think that we have ready and instant access to the throne of God
through Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit!
7) Asher was blessed in Privileges (Lk. 2:36-38… It was to devout Anna of the tribe of Asher that the Lord and Savior was revealed…what a privilege!) Maybe we
will have the privilege of seeing Christ in 2013 (Tit. 2:11-13)! But, if not in rapture, we still have the privilege of seeing Him at work in our lives and in the lives of
others and in the events that take place around us (“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”…Mt. 5:8).
Conclusion: Remember, the Hebrew verb ashar is a “conditional blessing,” based on man doing something: trusting God without question and submitting to the
authority of God and His Word. Do you want to have a “Blessed New Year”–an “Asher New Year”? Then trust God and obey His Word.