The Aaronic Blessing

Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace” (Num. 6:23b–26).  

- Numbers 6:22–27

Following his blessing of Ephraim and Manasseh, Jacob blessed his twelve sons, as recorded in Genesis 49. We will begin our study of this important chapter next week, but in the meantime we will spend two days looking at some important blessings in Scripture, in order to understand better the significance of these words of favor.

Today we will look at perhaps the most famous blessing in the Bible — the Aaronic blessing found in Numbers 6:22–27. God’s people treasure these words for they have been used in worship under the old covenant as well as the new. Unfortunately, because these words are so familiar, it is easy to miss their theological depth.

Structurally, there is much that can be said of the Aaronic blessing in the original Hebrew. If we were to remove the three instances of “the Lord” (Yahweh) in the blessing, we would be left with twelve words in the original language, an intentional reference to the twelve tribes of Israel. Furthermore, this threefold repetition of the name Yahweh is not required; one usage of God’s name would have sufficed. But the Lord has His priests repeat His name to emphasize that He is the source of all goodness in life (James 1:17).

One of these good things is peace (Num. 6:26), which in Scripture refers to far more than just the cessation of conflict. It includes prosperity, children, security, land, happiness, health, and a host of other good things (Deut. 28:1–14). The emphasis on the Lord as the source of all these things, as noted above, is very powerful. Basically, God is saying, “My people, when you enjoy health, remember that My grace has given it to you. When you succeed, do not forget that I am its source. Recall that no good gift is possible without Me.”

Dr. R.C. Sproul turns to the Aaronic blessing as an expression of the hope that the Lord’s chosen will one day see His face (Essential Truths of the Christian Faith, p. 282). Our supreme longing is to experience the beatific vision — to see the Lord face-to-face as He shines His smile upon us (Num. 6:25). In like manner, John Calvin writes that “nothing is more desirable for the consummation of our happiness, than that we should behold the serene countenance of God.

Coram Deo

Matthew Henry comments on this passage, saying that “we may take the blessing to ourselves, as if our names were inserted.” Think about it, the Lord our God, the Creator of all that is seen and unseen, seeks to bless His people. Everything good that comes your way comes from His hand, and one day, all in Christ will enjoy the splendor of His face. So, do not doubt that the Lord desires to bless you and tell others that His blessing is available to them in Christ.

Passages for Further Study

Ps. 103:1–5; 116:12–14
Hag. 2:19
Luke 7:23
1 Cor. 13:12

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