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A benediction is a declaration of blessings from God upon His loved ones. Benedictions are sometimes found at the close of some New Testament epistles (e.g., 2 Corinthians 13:14 and Ephesians 5:23-...
When I was a pastor for 7 years, I loved the form of the benediction given in Nu 6:22-27, and the most common form still used today in 2 Cor 13:14. I would say at the end of a church worship service, “The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. And then at the end of another service, I’d say, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.” I also loved and used the one in Hebrews 13, “May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Heb. 13:20-21) Numbers 6:24-26 6:24 “The LORD bless you 1 and protect 2 you; 6:25 The LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; 3 6:26 The LORD lift up his countenance upon you 4 and give you peace.”’ 1 The short blessing uses the jussive throughout, here the Piel jussive with a pronominal suffix. While the jussive has quite a range of nuances, including wish, desire, prayer, or greeting, the jussives here are stronger. The formal subject of the verb is the Lord, and the speaker pronouncing the blessing is the priest, notably after emerging from the holy of holies where atonement has been made. The Lord says in this passage that when the priest says this, then the Lord will bless them. The jussive then is an oracle, not a wish or a prayer. It is a declaration of what the Lord imparts. It is as binding and sure as a patriarchal blessing which once said officially could not be taken back. The priest here is then pronouncing the word of the Lord, declaring to the congregation the outcome of the atonement. 2 The verb “to keep” concerns the divine protection of the people; its basic meaning is “to exercise great care over,” “to guard,” or “to give attention to” (see TWOT 2:939). No doubt the priestly blessing informed the prayer and promise that makes up Ps 121, for the verb occurs six times in the eight verses. So in addition to the divine provision (“bless” basically means “enrich” in a number of ways), there is the assurance of divine protection. 3 Whereas the first line of the blessing had three Hebrew words, the second has five, and the third has seven. In this second line and the following third, the blessing takes the form of an emblem followed by the truth. For the Lord to make his face shine on them would mean to be gracious to them. M. Noth rightly calls this image of the shining face “a figure of speech for benevolence and favour” (Numbers [OTL], 59); see, for example, Pss 4:7; 31:17; 44:4; 67:2; 80:4, 8, 20; 119:135; Dan 9:17). The image may have its inspiration in the theophanies. The picture is of divine favor – the beaming face of a parent for his beloved. 4 The last line of the blessing also has first the image and then the parallel interpretation – for God to lift up his face is for God to give peace. The idea of the fallen face is one of anger (see Gen 4:6,7); and the idea of the hidden face is that of withholding support, favor, or peace (see Deut 31:18; Ps 30:8; Ps 44:25). If God lifts his face toward his people, it means he has given them peace – peace, prosperity, completeness, health, safety, general well-being, and the like. Or sometimes we’d conclude a service by singing, The Lord Bless You And Keep You The Lord bless you and keep you The Lord lift His countenance upon you, And give you peace, and give you peace; The Lord make His face to shine upon you, And be gracious, and be gracious; The Lord be gracious, gracious unto you.
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