Summary: The priestly blessing (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: email@example.com)
Reading: Numbers chapter 6 verses 22-27
Quote: Warren Wiersbe:
• “If you were to remove the words ‘bless’, ‘blessed’ and ‘blessing’;
• From the Christian vocabulary,
• Our prayer life, congregational worship & preaching would be greatly affected.
• These are friendly words that we are accustomed to hearing and using;
• And life would be barren without them.”
• The words ‘bless’, ‘blessed’ and ‘blessing’;
• Are found over five hundred times in the Bible.
• And they describe such diverse things as:
• Rain, bumper crops, babies and most import of all salvation from sin.
Question: What is a blessing?
Answer: According to Warren Wiersbe:
“Any act of God that brings him glory by accomplishing his will
and helping his people grow and do his will”.
Of all the five hundred plus blessings contained in the Bible:
• This one in Numbers chapter 6 may well be the most quoted.
• Christian preachers & ministers often use them at the conclusion of a service,
• In our Churches we refer to them as “benedictions”
• Ill: Our word ‘Benediction’ comes from two Latin words:
• ‘Bene’ which means ‘well’; and ‘Dicere’ which means ‘to speak.’
• A ‘benediction’ is simply ‘a short invocation to speak well’.
• As Christians we often use them in the form of a prayer, a blessing;
• Usually at the conclusion of a service.
• Not only do Christian preachers & ministers use it at the conclusion of a service,
• But Jewish rabbis also use it to conclude synagogue services.
Let’s look at the passage:
(1). The author of the blessing – God (vs 22)
22 The LORD said to Moses,
23 "Tell Aaron and his sons, 'This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:
27 "So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them."
• Please note that God himself is the originator, the creator writer:
• He entrusted the blessing to the priests verse 22: “Aaron & his sons”.
• And they became the custodians of these words,
• In fact they were the only ones allowed to speak them in public gatherings.
• Even today, Jewish men are permitted to pray in public;
• But only the Rabbi may pronounce this or any other benediction.
• Although the priests in the Bible were able to pronounce the blessing;
• But they were unable to bestow it!
• They were simply the designated messengers;
• God alone is the donor and benefactor.
• Ill: That is shown in the way his name is used three times in the blessing.
• Verses 24 & 25 & 26.
• Ill: Also in the concluding assertion;
• Verse 27: “I will bless them”.
• We might want to ask is why?
• Why did God command Aaron and his sons to bless the Israelites?
• Because he wanted to bless His children. God is good and God is love.
• Ill: Cream Eggs and school & home with Kathy & Arlo.
• Ill: As earthly parents we want that which is best for our children;
• So too does God – he desires what is best for his children – not spoil but a treat!
Question: Now what did it mean to say, “The Lord bless you”?
Answer: The Hebrew word translates as ‘bless’ literally means “on bended knee”.
• Ill: “Glory to God in the HIGHEST”
• Naughty children blotted out the letter ‘E’, so that it read; “HIGH ST”
We have a God who meets us where we are!
• Ill: To Abraham the Pilgrim;
• God came to him in Genesis chapter 18 as a traveller.
• Ill: To Jacob who had spent most of his life wrestling people;
• Ill: In fact even in the womb he was struggling and came out grasping Esau’s heel.
• God came to him in Genesis chapter 32 as a wrestler.
• Ill: To Joshua the General;
• God came to him in Joshua chapter 5 as a soldier – “the commander of the LORD's army”
“God meets us at whatever level he finds us,
In order that he might lift us up to where he wants us to be”
(2). The recipient of the blessing – Israel (vs 23 & 27)
• Notice that the blessing is sandwiched between two instructions.
• The instructions are given to a specific group of people.
• Verses 23 & 27: tell us who they are:
• ‘Israelites’, that is ‘the descendents of Jacob’.
Israel is the only nation in history that has entered into a covenant relationship with the Lord.
• Ill: Psalm 147 verse 20 reminds us that;
• “...He has done this for no other nation....”
• Note: The Lord did not establish a contract with Israel or with the church.