Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Numbers 4,5,6 God Bless You

The Great Auditorium, Ocean Grove, New Jersey ...Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday, I had the privilege of worshipping with my husband’s relatives from Texas in the Great Auditorium, in Ocean Grove, NJ.  Though Phil Smith, principal trumpet of the New York Philharmonic, played trumpet solos during worship and a magnificent choir regaled us with rich voices, it was the very last benediction that reverberated most powerfully through the enormous building.

Dr. Mitch Glaser, president of ChosenPeopleMinistries.com, chanted the parting benediction, first in Hebrew and then in English, Numbers 6: 24 – 26:

            “The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
The Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.”

In Hebrew, this blessing poured over my heart like anointing oil.  Even though I only actually understood the very last word, “shalom”, this benediction just felt sacred, holy, and powerful.  Now, even though I’ve heard this blessing before, I didn’t clearly remember where the text came from.  So, I was greatly surprised to see it in today’s readings and I really do feel led to reflect on those words.

So, what dos “bless” mean?  Webster’s dictionary begins the definition of the word  bless by indicating its origins in an Old English word blōdisōian, meaning to be consecrated by blood. Again, in Webster’s, the most common current usage of bless is to make or pronounce something holy; the second meaning is to confer happiness; other meanings include to guard, to protect, and to praise or glorify.

According to Strong’s Concordance to bless, in Hebrew בָּרַךְ (barak), is associated not only with abundance and prosperity but also with the ability to kneel before God in worship and adoration.  That creates a compelling dimension.

When Aaron and his sons, the only Levites who were permitted to serve as priests, recited this blessing dictated by God to Moses ( Numbers 6: 22 – 23), they were not only invoking God’s beneficial attributes upon the people, but they were also invoking the spiritual sight Israel needed to glorify God; to praise Him for His works; to thank God for His hand in their lives; to kneel before Him in awe; to know that there is no god like the God of Israel.

The blessing invoked prosperity as well as the ability to humbly kneel before God and the ability to gratefully receive His favour.   I think that it is amazing that God Himself told Moses how Aaron and his sons, were to bless Israel.  With the blessing, God taught Israel what to desire and how to receive it.

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