Numbers 6 (specifically verses 24-26) contains what is called the Priestly Benediction. In this passage we are told that these are the specific words that God gave to Aaron, through his brother Moses, to bless God’s people. This is a very old blessing and an incredibly profound one. As we continue to think about the blessing of a benediction, it can be helpful to look at these familiar and powerful words. Here are the last six verses of Numbers 6 (NRSV):
22 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying:
23 Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the Israelites: You shall say to them,
24 The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.
27 So they shall put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.
These beautiful verses speak of God’s protection, provision, and care. The blessing speaks of God’s proximity: God is close. God is so close that the Israelites are basking in the reflected light of God’s face. The blessing talks of relationship. God and God’s people speak face-to-face. The blessing is about identity. God will put God’s name on the Israelites – they belong to/with God. The blessing lists some of the benefits of God, like grace and peace. And last but not least, the blessing is entirely dependent on God’s action. This blessing is not contingent upon the behavior of the people. They don’t have to earn or deserve it, the blessing is freely and lavishly bestowed.
This week, think or meditate on your identity in God, through Jesus, in the power of the Spirit. What titles do you have because of your relationship with God? How do you interact with others because of this relationship? What are the benefits of this relationship with God?
Now take some time to write down these thoughts in the form of a blessing you would like to share. Please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) to share what you’ve written, to ask questions or to continue this dialogue.