Do you realize that God really does want to bless his people? He wants to bless the non-believer, too, by the way, but their sin obviously blocks the flow of his intentional goodness in their lives. But in terms of his blessing on the people who call on his name, one of the ways he communicates his desire to bless is through the formal blessing of a pastor, or the priest. And when the pastor/priest offers the Aaronic Blessing, as the words are spoken, it is God himself who is entering into that moment to speak and to lay hands on his people to pour forth his favor upon them.
Going Deep // Focus: Numbers 6:22-27
The LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”’ Whenever Aaron and his sons bless the people of Israel in my name, I myself will bless them.”
God wants to bless you. Really! That is not just something we say off-handedly, he deeply desires to pour out of the storehouse of his treasury the multifaceted favor of his glorious riches. So let me just say it one more time, “May God richly bless you!”
Out of my pastoral bag of benedictions, this blessing found in Numbers 6 is my favorite. There are many beautiful benedictions found in Scripture, but this is the one I most often use. I typically use it at the end of a service to dismiss the congregation as they go back into their world, and for me, it is not merely a pastoral ritual to end a meeting and send the people on their way, it is invoking the literal blessing of Almighty God himself.
Invoking the literal blessing of Almighty God himself. To be honest, I am not sure I have ever thought of it quite like that before. I have sincerely offered this blessing countless times, but I have never fully noticed the context that from which it originates here in Numbers 6. And specifically, I don’t think I have ever caught that this is the Lord himself telling Moses to instruct Aaron, the high priest, and his sons, how to bless the people. And here is the clincher: they are to bless the people with this benediction on behalf of the Lord himself.
How often we mindlessly say, “God bless you.” We use it in response to a sneeze. We use it to end a letter. We use it to affirm affection for someone we care for. And we even use it for people we don’t really care for, that is, for people we don’t really know but want to politely and kindly acknowledge with a reference to our God. So we say, “God bless you!”
But do you realize that God really does want to bless his people? He wants to bless the non-believer, too, by the way, but their sin obviously blocks the flow of his intentional goodness in their lives. But in terms of his blessing on the people who call on his name, one of the ways he communicates his desire to bless is through the formal blessing of a pastor, or in this case of Numbers, the Levitical priests. And when the pastor/priest offers this formulaic expression, as the words are spoken, it is God himself who is entering into that moment to speak and to lay hands on his people to bless them with his favor.
So just what is the blessing that God is giving? If you look at the Aaronic blessing, it includes just about everyone one could hope for:
- “May the Lord bless you.” In a comprehensive way, it means blessing—God’s general goodness, kindness and benevolence.
- “May the Lord keep you.” It also includes his watchful care. God promises to watch over, hold close and protect his people.
- “May the Lord make his face shine upon you.” God desires to look upon you with warm love and the Fatherly pride.
- “May the Lord be gracious to you.” The blessing includes his grace, which is his unmerited and unlimited favor.
- “May the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” God will bless you by giving you audience—paying attention to you, granting you his precious time—and letting you know that all will be well with you, no matter how it may seem otherwise.
That is the blessing—not just what your pastor, priest or I want to give to you as you go your way. No, this is God himself, using your spiritual overseer as his mouthpiece, telling you what he desires to do for you.
Whenever Aaron and his sons bless the people of Israel in my name, I myself will bless them. (Numbers 6:27, NLT)
Wow! May the Lord bless you!