Have you ever though about how to bless another person? We use that word bless rather loosely. Sometimes we mean it when we do something nice or thoughtful for another. However, it can have a deeper meaning, For instance, to bless can mean to make or bestow holiness on someone. Think about that for a minute. Which is eternally more valuable – doing something nice/thoughtful for another or having holiness bestowed upon them? Now I know what you’re thinking and you’re right, we can’t bestow holiness upon anyone. We who are unholy by our own efforts cannot make someone else holy by those same efforts. The catch is that the One who bestows holiness on us can be petitioned to bestow holiness on another. In other words, we can go to God in prayer asking for a blessing on another. For instance:
“Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, ‘Thus you shall bless the sons of Israel. You shall say to them:
The LORD bless you, and keep you;
The LORD make His face shine on you,
And be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance on you,
And give you peace.’
“So they shall invoke My name on the sons of Israel, and I then will bless them.”
– Numbers 6:23-27, NASB
This is the “priestly blessing.” Note that Moses is being told what Aaron and his sons are to say upon the Israelites. The priestly cast were to proclaim this blessing, hence the name. But what is most interesting is that last verse, “So they shall invoke My name on the sons of Israel, and I then will bless them.” Did you see that? That applies to us, too, for we are a “royal priesthood.” Now here’s the catch: look at what is being included in the blessing. Note there’s nothing about job interviews or healthy retirement plans or athletic success or even healing, which are some of the typical things we hear prayers for. This blessing asks God to give the person holiness (bless you), protection from evil (keep you), satisfaction and joy in God (shine on you), mercy (gracious to you), fulfillment and encouragement in God (lift up His countenance on you), and peace. But when you think about it, what earthly thing can measure up to any of those? So why don’t we conclude our services with this priestly prayer? For that matter, why don’t we seek to speak this prayer over one another whenever we are in our prayer time?
Now there is a second catch, and it’s one Matthew Henry brings to light in his commentary. The person for whom this prayer is spoken must be prepared to receive such a blessing. Why does he say this? He says it because the priestly tradition was to deliver such a blessing after morning sacrifice. In other words, people approaching God to offer worship. In other words, people prepared for God’s will to be done, people acknowledging His Lordship of their lives. Such people were spiritually prepared and ready to receive such a blessing. Contextually, this benediction comes immediately after the expectations of being a Nazirite and right before the sacrificial offering of the leaders of Israel for the completion of the Tabernacle. This is no coincidence. The Nazarites were to be holy and set apart. The leaders were bringing a sacrifice to God, one which was accepted (Numbers 7:5). So what does this say of us and to us? Are we ready to receive such a blessing from God? Are our hearts to receive it? Do we have a sacrificial spirit towards the Almighty?
May our hearts be right with the Lord and ready for Him to deliver such a blessing upon us. Let us focus on Him and Him alone and trust Him with all the other concerns and worries in our lives. Let us seek to find peace, joy, contentment, and fulfillment in Him, putting aside the material and social and worldly things that often overshadow what He simply offers us each day. Things not of God cannot compare to the things of God. And may He bless us according to this prayer, as we seek to honor and glorify Him in all that we do.