Hello Dear Readers,
I had the honor of teaching the first two Sunday’s of this month. This is part one of the lesson. It was a thrill for me to get to start the New Year sharing what I love with others during our Sunday service. Enjoy!
When we think of the New Year we think of a fresh start, new beginnings, personal goals, financial goals, and family goals. But, how often do we think of God’s Blessing for His Creation, us, His children.
Today I want to talk with you about a special blessing God wants all of us to receive. This blessing is so important because it covers us completely in every area of our life. This blessing is so specific that God commanded the Priests to bless the people not using their own words, but rather using and exact formulation for the blessing, prefacing the instruction with the words: “Thus shall you bless.” This reveals that the blessing comes from the LORD Himself, the priests were a means for transmitting His gracious will. Now that we have Jesus, our Messiah, our Savior we know that He is The High Priest, and that His sacrifice made it possible for us to enter boldly before God. So today we can pray, petition, and speak blessings knowing that our voice will be heard, and our words will be fruitful before the Lord our Creator, because of Jesus.
So what is this blessing? We find it in Numbers 6:23-27 It is known in the Jewish community as the Birkat Kohanim or The Priestly Blessing.
Before we dig deeper we should understand what a blessing is, and how it is defined.
1. The act of one that blesses.
2. A short prayer said before or after a meal; grace.
3. Something promoting or contributing to happiness, well-being, or prosperity; a boon.
4. Approbation; approval: This plan has my blessing.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
God was so deliberate when He shared this blessing that his very name is made by the hands of the priest while the blessing is said, according to Numbers 6:27 “So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”
When the blessing is recited the priest raises his hands with the palms facing outward and the thumbs of his outspread hands touching. The four fingers on each hand are split into tow sets of tow fingers forming the Hebrew letter Shin, the emblem for Shaddai – which means “ALIMIGHTY” – meaning all power, or unlimited power.
This encourages me for the New Year knowing that the God of Unlimited Power wants to now only bless us, but place that very name upon us. That’s how much He loves His creation, his children. He wants us to be blessed in all areas with UNLIMITED POWER, with the POWER of the ALMIGHTY leading, guiding, and directing us everyday!
But it gets so much better. As we continue to study the Priestly Blessing we learn that the people accepted the blessing and responded. I don’t know about you, but I love to give and find it very hard to receive. I am getting better, but not without deliberate determination to accept blessings from others as I in turn love to bless others. My response to someone wanting to bless me has not always been with a full heart of welcome, because I would feel like they were going out of their way for me. Now I understand that when someone gives you something out of a heart of love and blessing we should receive it warmly, that way they too will be blessed.
So how do we receive and respond to a blessing from our Heavenly Father? We anticipate His blessing with a thankful heart, and declare that His Word is so. Here is the blessing that the priests recited, along with the response of the people.
NUMBERS 6: 23-27
PRIEST: May the LORD bless you and protect you.
PEOPLE: Yes, may it be His will.
PRIEST: May the LORD shine His face to you and be gracious to you.
PEOPLE: Yes, may it be His will.
PRIEST: May the LORD turn (or lift up) His face to you and give to you peace.
PEOPLE: Yes, may it be His will.
This blessing is recited during services and it can also be recited over children on Friday night before the start of the Shabbat meal or as a bedtime blessing. The very name of God represents love and mercy, and justice and power as our Creator. Jewish tradition considers this both material and spiritual prosperity. Pirkei Avot 3:15 says, “If there is no flour, there is no Torah,” which means that material benefits are intended to help you pursue study of Torah, or The Bible. The word “blessing” first appears in the Scriptures as “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:22). God will guard, protect, heed, as in the exercise of diligent care the blessing He has placed upon you. Only God has the power to secure the blessing and keep it from turning sour or from fading away. What good is a blessing if it is not protected? The word for “face” is considered and is thought by some to indicate God’s revealed and hidden attributes in creation. God’s wisdom is also apart of this blessing in that He would light our path and guide us with His wisdom. May God grant you grace or favor means to understand the “breadth and length and height and depth” of God’s love (Eph.3:18). Grace refers to the bestowal of an undeserved gift. The blessing is bestowed even though unearned or unmerited. Our face is an indication of our heart’s attitude, in the last part of the blessing God lifts up His face to us. The “lifting of face” pictures God lifting you up as a father might lift up his child in joy. The “showing of face” indicates spiritual intimacy. All of the other blessings are useless without God’s inner peace placed in our lives, and therefore it is the seal of the blessing. Shalom or Peace is not simply the absence of strife, but a balance and harmony between the finite and infinite, the temporal and the eternal, the material and the spiritual realms. Shalom (peace) is a gift from Sar Shalom, the Prince of Peace.
You may ask, what does a Jewish blessing have to do with me? That is the exciting part! This blessing is for everyone, and Galations 3:26-28 reveals this to us:
26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
So that means, that ALL OF GOD’S BLESSING are for us to obtain, because Jesus paid the ultimate price. Now, we have a connection to our Heavenly Father who loves and adores His creation so much that he sacrificed His ONLY son. What greater love is this? How can we not receive blessing from Him, when He so clearly wants us to live a blessed life? Here is another version of the same scripture:
Galatians 3:28 (The Message)
In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. Also, since you are Christ’s family, then you are Abraham’s famous “descendant,” heirs according to the covenant promises.
This is exciting for us because it opens up a whole new world of understanding. When we understand the God of the Jews, and we realize that this same God is our God, our father, and that everything he promised pertains to ALL OF HIS CHILDREN, it is cause for great rejoicing. When you are in love with someone you want to find out everything about them. Since our Savior was Jewish I want to know everything about His culture, and in learning, many things are revealed when we look at the whole Bible through the eyes of our Savior. The bible says: Psalms 19:11 that God warns us of danger and directs us to hidden treasure. The Bible is a treasure, throughout history men have died for the purpose of keeping the Word of God available to future generations. God wants to reveal the hidden treasures of His Word to us so that we can have a deeper relationship with Him. Just as we learn the secrets of those we love, God’s secrets have been kept and stored here in His Word for us to discover and grow from. So that our lives will be changed, so that our faith will increase, and so that we can fully understand and receive the blessings His has for us all.
So as we begin the NEW YEAR let us notice God, and His goodness. Be thankful for the gift of His Son Jesus to us, that opens up blessings not just for the New Year, but for every single day of our lives. AMEN.