(A Radio Message by Rev. Timothy Tow, Published 14th Feb 1981)
with minor editions

At Chinese New Year, it is required of us to speak kind words, so as to bring blessing or good luck. New year couplets with good wishes written with the brush on red paper are pasted on either side of the door. One such wish reads “Wu Fu Lin Men” (五福临门), that is “Five Blessings Arriving at the Door”.

Now, what are the five blessings that the Chinese pray for at the beginning of the year? They are long life, wealth, health, love of virtue and a natural death. The root of these blessings may be see in the composition of the character Fu (福) or Blessing. This composite character is made up of four radicals put together, which signify, one (一), mouth (口), field (田) and altar (礻). A field to yield to the support of life, with its attendant blessings, however, cannot be complete without sacrifice made to God. Hence, the altar radical.

The ancient Chinese idea of sacrifice as the root of blessing is wonderful corresponded by the etymology of the word “blessing” in the English language. The English word “bless”, according to Webster, comes for the older English word “blod” which in modern English is spelt “blood”. What blood? Webster says, “From the consecration by sprinkling the altar with blood”. The book of Hebrews in the New Testament says, “Without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb. 9:22), that is, without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin.

The Chinese and English ideas of sacrifice and blood as the root meaning of blessing can be traced to the Jews. Originally called Hebrews, the Jews were slaves under the Pharaoh of Egypt until God raised up Moses. Moses had to contest with Pharaoh ten times, sending plague after plague before the Hebrews could go free. The last plague God sent upon the Egyptians by Moses was the slaying of all of Egypt’s first-born. Now, for the protection of the Hebrews, for the keeping out of the angel of death from their homes, God told His people to kill a lamb. With the blood shed from the lamb that was killed, they were to dab the door posts and lintel of their house. Those who kept within this blood-stained door during the night the angel of death visited were safe. The angel of death who saw the lamb’s blood “passed over”. Hence, this new-yearly sacrifice of the Jews was called the Passover Feast. Does this strike you as something wonderful? Isn’t it a marvelous correspondence with the Chinese idea of a red streamer over the front of their house?

There can be no New Year’s wish of five blessings in the full sense of the word “blessing” (福) without the lamb’s blood being shed. What does the lamb stand for? John the Baptiser calls Jesus the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. Paul declares, “For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us”. (1 Cor. 5:7)

I wish you peace from the Lord this Chinese New Year. Let me point out that Jesus is our blessing. He is the true blessing, the blessing of blessings, because He was made to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. 5:21). All our earthly blessings come to naught, until we have obtained the heavenly blessings. Our sin-sick souls must be cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. True inward peace that comes from God will be to those who find the forgiveness of sins through the blood of Jesus Christ. Without this true blessing, the five blessings of earth are not only short-lived but meaningless.

Christ our Redeemer died on the cross,
Died for the sinner, paid all his due;
All who receive Him need never fear,
Yes, He will pass, will pass over you.

Pastor’s Note: Rev (Dr) Jeffrey Khoo will be speaking today on the mes-sage “Gong Xi Fa Cai” based on 3 John 2. This is very much in line with the Chinese New Year Season. May God’s Word be a true blessing to you. Remember also to be a good testimony for Christ. Give out the ang-pow tracts to your friends!