Summary: God wants His people to be “A Blessed People.” Happily this blessing is not restricted in usage or potency to God’s ancient people but brings great joy, grace, and peace to Christians as well.
NUMBERS 6: 22-27
A PEOPLE OF BLESSING
God wants His people to be “A Blessed People.” A blessing is God’s way of asking for His divine favor to rest upon others. This benediction before us is most beautiful. The ancient blessing evoked in these verses helps us understand what a blessing is supposed to be and do. Happily this blessing is not restricted in usage or potency to God’s ancient people but brings great joy, grace, and peace to Christians as well.
This blessing identifies YAHWEH as the Author of all that is good. God alone is able to bring prosperity and peace to His faithful people in any age or time. This beautiful blessing was used as a formula for pronouncing God’s favor upon His people at the close of worship services. It may have originally been intended as a model for blessing as the Lord’s Prayer is a model for prayer. Whether formula, model, or both, as I believe, it’s purpose is clear: It communicates the desire of the Lord to invest His people with His name. The name of the Lord is to be equated with the Lord Himself so that this blessing became an intercession that God would live among His people and meet all their needs. For He is the One from Whom all blessings flow.
The blessing is conveyed in five or six parts after its introduction and defining of the True Blesser. Let’s use the following outline to delve into it.
I. The Law of Blessing, 22-23.
II. The Ultimate Blesser, 24a, 25a, 26a.
III. Bless and Keep, 24a, b.
IV. Shine His Face, 25a.
V. Be Gracious, 25b.
VI. Turn His Face, 26a.
VII. Give Peace, 26b.
VIII. The Outcome, 27.
I. THE LAW OF BLESSING, 22-23.
“The LORD spoke to Moses saying, ‘Speak to Aaron and his son, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:’”
Numbers 6: 22-27 concludes the section of mainly legal material that stretches from Leviticus 1 to Numbers 6. Numbers 7:1 records the day Moses first set up the tabernacle. The blessing concludes the section dealing with priestly legislation that promised that if God’s Word is kept, God’s blessings will follow.
In verse 22 we see that YHWH is the Author and provider of the blessing. Moses was the mediator of the blessing between God and man. Verse 23 indicates Aaron was to be the first discharger of this solemn blessing. The priest pronounced it as one having authority with his hands lifted up and his face towards the people. [The last thing Jesus did on earth was to bless His disciples with uplifted hands (Lk. 24:50, 51)] This benediction became the liturgical conclusion to Israel’s worship services and has become a tradition in closing many Christian worship services still today. It serves as an official act of God’s blessing upon His worshipers as they go out into the world.
Moses here again acts as mediator between God and man. He delivers God message to man. Moses was designated to represent or foreshadow the great place of Christ, the ultimate and only true mediator between God and man. He alone can truly represent and bring both parties together for He alone is both God and man. Christ is the ultimate fountain of blessing, “In whom all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 12:3).
The common practice of the apostles in blessing the people leads us to infer that the act of blessing was to be continued in the church (2 Cor. 13:14) though now it’s initiation of worship has become as common as it’s conclusion of worship (Rom. 1:7; Gal. 1:3; Phil. 1:2; 1 Tim. 1:2; etc.). Ministers have no power or authority of their own to convey a blessing, but act as stewards, or vehicles to bring the blessing of God upon His people. Though this blessing is very simple, it has been the divine means to bring down untold blessings upon those over whom it was pronounced. So priest then and pastors today act as official intercessors and speak the blessing in the name of Him Who commanded it. It was and is commonly pronounced while standing with uplifted hands in a loud voice toward the people (Deut. 10:8; Lev. 9:22) which is what Jesus did in Luke 24:50-53.
II. THE ULTIMATE BLESSER (24a, 25a, 26a).
The form of the blessing God ordered His people to be blessed with has three separate lines. In each of these lines the divine name YHWH is repeated to make it emphatic that it is God who is the divine author of all that is good. God blesses with His gracious presence, prosperity, protection and peace to His people. Actually the blessing is a prayer, an intercessory prayer, that God would grant His presence and watch care over His people. It is expressed in three poetic lines of unequal but increasing length. Verse 24 contains three Hebrew words. Verse 25 has five words and Verse 26 has seven, the number of completeness or perfection.