Here’s the plain and simple facts: The Bible is true!
And the Bible tells us that what God has blessed, no man can curse. If you are blessed, then you are blessed. It doesn’t mean that we won’t face tribulations and trials. We will go through some testing and some persecution, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t blessed!
So what does it mean to be blessed? What is “the blessing?” So often we hear phrases like “God bless you” or “Be blessed.” But did you know God has given us a blessing in the Bible that is for us today, here and now? Take a look at this familiar passage in Numbers 6:22-26:
And the Lord spoke to Moses saying, “Tell Aaron and his sons to bles the people of Israel with this special blessing: May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.”
Common names for this passage of scripture include “The Aaronic Prayer,” “The Priestly Blessing,” and “The Lifting of the Hands Blessing.” No matter what you call it — this blessing is still undeniably relevant today! No matter what is going on around us, God has declared that you and I are blessed. That is a big deal! Especially during times like these, unprecedented and uncertain, but we can stand firm in the knowledge and understanding that we are blessed.
Fun fact: In 1979, archaeologists in Israel were digging at the Old City and they came upon two tiny silver scrolls. On those scrolls, written in Hebrew, was the blessing from Numbers chapter 6. Archaeologists say that these scrolls are the oldest known biblical text. These scrolls precede the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls by approximately 400 years. These historic artifacts prove the veracity of the Old Testament.
So, let’s break apart the blessing, line-by-line, verse-by-verse, so that we can fully understand the magnitude of what it means to be blessed — and how we can pray and declare this blessing today.
Right off the bat, we see that the Lord initiated this blessing! No one had to invent it or twist His arm. The Lord, of His own will and volition, wanted (and wants!) to bless His people. Here’s the good news: we are His people! We go on to see that Aaron is simply the spokesperson and the next few verses are instructions on how to administer the blessing.
The visual image is similar to our modern benediction: God has instructed Moses to tell his brother Aaron, the high priest, to decree the blessing over the Israelite people. Aaron would have stood in front of the people, lifted his hands high, and decreed these words over them.
As we continue to navigate our way through each piece of the passage, we see that it’s a spirit, soul, and body blessing.
Blessing #1 : May the Lord Bless You and Keep You
This blessing is a double whammy: bless you and keep you. Let’s tackle part one, first. The Lord wants you blessed. Can we just marinate in that for just a minute? I mean, this is big. I think sometimes we forget that, no matter what season we’re in, God does not change. In Malachi 3:6, God says, “I am the Lord, I change not.” Which means, if He wants you blessed then, He wants you blessed now — and always, regardless of life season. Whether you’re in a season of joy, a season of strife, a season of struggle, or anywhere in between, God. Wants. You. Blessed. Period. No matter the trial, tribulation, or persecution, we come out of it on the other side because He always causes us to triumph in Christ.
Now onto part two! The word “keep” in this verse really means “guard” and it’s actually the same word we see in Genesis 1 where the Lord told Adam and Eve to keep the garden and to guard and protect it. The declaration of “the Lord keep you” translates to “God will protect you, God will keep you, and God will guard you.” Can you even imagine anything more comforting than this promise? Wow. Even in the book of Job, God puts a hedge of protection around Job to keep him safe, and He will do the same for you, every time.
Blessing #2 : May the Lord Smile on You and Be Gracious to You
Look at that...another two-part blessing…whoop whoop! The decree of blessing here is that the Lord would light up because of you. Think about the way you react when a loved one visits who you haven’t seen in quite some time, or when you pick your kiddos up from school and they run into your arms, you light up! In the same way, God will have this joyous reaction when He sees you and interacts with you because you are His child.
Moving right along to: May God be gracious to you. Before we talk about what it is to be gracious, let’s talk about what it’s not. Words that mean the opposite of gracious include gruff, ornery, grumpy or rude. Graciousness is the extension of grace given. Being gracious is the idea that the person who is superior (boss, professor, teacher, figure of authority) bends or stoops in kindness to an inferior. Graciousness is having the power to do something nice for someone and doing it. If you’re gracious, you have an easy going and pleasing manner.
God knows you, He knows me, He knows we’re human. God knows we need His grace and mercy. So when we receive the blessing, “may the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you,” we see that God isn’t mad at us, He’s not gruff or grumpy toward us. He’s gracious. He is not as uptight as we have made Him out to be; God is easygoing, He’s got a pleasing manner. Don’t you love that!?
Blessing #3: May the Lord Show His Favor and Give you His Peace
Here’s the deal: Because of sin, God’s favor was turned against us. But because of Jesus, God’s favor is now upon us. God is no longer displeased with us. He accepts us! That is what this blessing is about. It’s not about “God is so mad! If you don’t repent you’re going to be in trouble!” It is about God’s unconditional, all-encompassing love for us. He is kind, He is gracious. His approval, His favor is upon you. He likes you!
In this scripture, “peace” is the word “Shalom.” Shalom is a huge, huge word for the Jewish people. It is so inclusive. It’s a greeting word they did (and do) use to greet one another. It’s a blessing! When you say “Shalom” to someone, you’re saying “peace”, but you're also saying that you want that person blessed in their family, with their children, in their security, in their safety, in their happiness, in their healthy and wellness, in their inner harmony, wholeness, prosperity, and long life carrying with it the implication of permanence. The purpose of this last portion of the blessing is that God wants us blessed! Through and through, He wants nothing but peace and goodness and blessings upon our lives.
If you’re in a discouraging place at the moment or you’re wondering what the future looks like or you’re filled with “what-ifs” swimming around your brain… God wants you to know in your heart that the Lord bless you and keep you. He smiles on you and is gracious to you. He shows you His favor and gives you His peace.
This is why we celebrate God with all our hearts! Because of His great love that’s been lavished upon us in Christ, we have already been given every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm, including the three blessings to receive every day given to us in Numbers 6. By accepting Jesus as our Lord, we get to partake of the blessing and become the people God has blessed and whom no one else can curse. What a powerful promise to stand on!
Are you ready to receive all the blessings God has designed for your life? Check out my newest book, “Getting a Grip on the Basics of Prayer.” It’s a practical, comprehensive, easy-to-follow Bible study to help you understand the basics of prayer and “pray by the rules” to further develop your relationship with Christ!