Numbers 6 – Aaronic Blessing
I have a confession to make. For many years I have maintained a perspective on God and His relationship to mankind that was not just wrong, it was unscriptural. Now I’m wondering if “unscriptural” is a strong enough word? No, it definitely is not. This wrong perspective I’m referring to is actually the exact opposite of the picture scripture paints about the relationship between God and mankind, which means it is a lie. I have wrongly believed that God was this perfect and yet perfectly rigid authoritarian establishing a long list of do’s and don’ts and just waiting for one to mess up so He can punish him. If I would have put it to words I might have said it this way, “God doesn’t really love me, He’s just waiting for me to screw up so He can toast me. Maybe if I don’t mess up then He’ll love me”.
Simply reading Numbers 6:22-27 causes that wrong perspective to dissolve in the simple solution of truth.
22 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying:
23 “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them:
24 “The LORD bless you and keep you;
25 The LORD make His face 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 children of Israel, and I will bless them.”
I talked about verses twenty-two and twenty-three last time but look at the last part of verse twenty-three. God says to Moses, “This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel.” Do you see that? Why is Aaron supposed to speak these exact words from God to the Nation? So that they will be blessed! That doesn’t sound to me like God is plopping down a list of do’s and don’ts to test them. YHWH intends to bless, not curse.
Maybe at some point, I’ll stop mentioning this every time we encounter the word translated LORD in the Old Testament. But that time is not now. All four times the word LORD appears in Numbers 6:22-27 it is the personal, covenant name of God YHWH or Yahweh. It projects the meaning that God is the self-existent One. He is the only all-powerful being of the universe. Truly Holy and perfectly unique.
Why do I mention it here? I think it is important to understand that it wasn’t some pronoun blessing the people but rather a real, living God with a personal name. The covenant God of relationship, Yahweh, is blessing the people.
Moses didn’t make up the words of the blessing. Aaron and the priests didn’t sit around scratching their heads and wordsmithing verses twenty-two through twenty-seven. God told Moses who told Aaron and the priests exactly what to say. Why is that significant?
It’s significant because sometimes what man comes up with is born out of the counterfeit to faith, presumption. We sometimes pray like we are rubbing the Genie prayer lamp instructing the sovereign of the universe to give us what we want. We too often attempt to work some formula with God instead of enjoying the benefits of being in relationship with Him. We call Jesus Lord while living our lives as if we are!
The words of this blessing are from the very lips of God Himself, which means that every word of the blessing will indeed be fulfilled by the very One who commanded the blessing to be pronounced.
The blessing itself is found in verses 24-26. Don’t let familiarity rob you. Slow down as you read it. Meditate on each of the components of the blessing.
There is so much more I could say about these verses, but I’ll just make a few observations about verse twenty-seven. The first thing to notice in verse twenty-seven is the antecedent for the pronoun “they” is Aaron and the priests. By blessing the people thus Aaron and the priests are putting the name YHWH on the people. What does it mean to put God’s name on the people? Well for starters it means, “…and I [Yahweh] will bless them”.
What does it mean if I put my name on something? It means it’s mine, not yours. Or it means I created it or authored the thing being named. If I paint a compelling seen in vibrant colors it might not mean much, unless of course, my name is Rembrandt, Michaelangelo, or someone like that. What did it mean to the original biblical audience and what would it mean to you to have God’s signature on you?
Look at the blessing one more time as rendered by the Lexham English Bible.
22 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,
23 “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘You will bless the Israelites: You will say to them:
24 Yahweh will bless you
and keep you;
25 Yahweh will make shine his face on you
and be gracious to you;
26 Yahweh will lift up his face upon you,
and he will give you peace.’
27 And they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”
Harris, W. Hall, III et al., eds. The Lexham English Bible. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012. Print.
God is so worthy of praise and worship! He is so full of Love and Grace…I don’t think we will ever comprehend how loving and gracious.
How would we as a people several thousand years removed from this Numbers passage have God’s name applied to us? Become a believer in Jesus Christ the Messiah.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture Quotations from The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982. Print.