Week of March 11 - March 17
Speak Blessing – Man as Provider

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, 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.’ So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.” - Numbers 6:22-27 ESV

When you hear the words “speak a blessing,” what comes to mind? A quick prayer over a meal? A sympathetic “God bless you” when someone sneezes? Or maybe a Southern “Bless your heart”? The blessing in Numbers 6 is so much more meaningful and rich. It should be familiar. You’ve probably heard these words prayed or sung in worship services or at weddings.

Yet these words were originally spoken by Aaron and his descendants. Can you picture the high priest standing before the people in his robes, raising his hands, and giving them this blessing? This practice goes all the way back to Leviticus 9:22, when Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people of God and blessed them, but we weren’t told the words. Here in Numbers 6, God gives us the beautiful script.

Each of the three lines of the blessing begins with “The Lord,” which some versions render in all capital letters, signifying the divine covenant name “Yahweh.” Remember in Exodus 3 when Moses asked God, “What do I tell people when they say who sent you?” And God said in verse 14, “I am who I am.” That is: “I’m the everlasting one. I was, I am, I always will be.” The inclusion of God’s personal, covenant name in each line of blessing adds weight to what is explained in verse 27: “So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.” God is the source of our blessing. Never forget that.

In addition to God’s personal covenant name, there are two blessings per line. In the first line, we have:

Yahweh “bless you and keep you” (v. 24) 

The word translated as “keep” means to guard, to protect. Like Psalm 121:7-8: “The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.”

The second line elaborates on this idea of God blessing the people: “Yahweh “make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you” (v. 25). 

This speaks of God’s smile of approval based on His unmerited favor.

Then the third and final line elaborates on the idea of God keeping His people: “Yahweh “lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace” (v. 26)

God lovingly watches over us and grants us “shalom.” That Hebrew word translated as “peace” means so much more than the absence of conflict. It speaks of wholeness and wellness, a state of flourishing and favor that fosters contentment and joy.

But that’s not all. When you look at the Hebrew text, God directed His blessing upon the individual. It is in the singular. So, it wasn’t a blanket “God bless y’all.” It was “God bless you.” This was not just a communal blessing; it was primarily an individual and personal blessing from the Lord. What’s the point? This blessing is what God desires for you personally. Why? God loves you. God treasures you. God wants to bless you. That’s God's heart. Unfortunately, many picture God as some distant deity, sternly standing, arms folded, peering down and frowning at us like He’s out to get us. No, He’s out to bless you. God wants you to feel the warmth of His smile, enjoy the blessing of His favor, and experience real “shalom.”

Notice in verse 27 that the priests serve as intermediaries of God’s blessing. In fact, it is referred to in Hebrew as the birkat kohanim, the “blessing of the priest.” After the morning and evening sacrifice, standing before the community with hands lifted high, the priest was to speak this blessing. In the New Testament, when Peter tells us that we are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9), he was pointing back to the Lord’s own words from Mount Sinai in Exodus 19:6: “you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Men, we are priests in the service of Jesus, the Great High Priest (Heb. 4:14). Although we no longer offer blood sacrifices for sins like Aaron and the priests—Jesus did that once for all on the cross—we are to offer the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to God (Heb. 13:15) as well as speak a word of blessing on others.

Did you know that the last thing Jesus did before ascending back into heaven was speak blessing on His followers? We read in Luke 24:50-51:

And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.

Jesus lifted up His hands and blessed them just like Aaron and his sons did for generations, presumably with the same words found in Numbers 6:24-26. If Jesus did that for His followers, and the priests did that for the people, shouldn’t we do the same for those we love and lead? Men, speak blessing!

- In your role as Provider, have you considered the power of your words to encourage or discourage those who look to you for leadership? As you assess your communication with them, is it more positive than negative, more “blessing” than “cursing” (see James 3:7-12)? What adjustments do you need to make?
- Have you thought about how you can provide a spoken blessing to each of your family members and Battle Buddies? Start with Scripture, like the one we read today, then tailor the blessing to the individual.
- Offer God the sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving for His undeserved blessing, favor, and peace!