The Aaronic blessing in Numbers 6:22-27 is often called a benediction and is considered to be the bestowing of God’s blessing. This blessing from the Lord is upon the nation of Israel, but we can learn from the NT that this benediction given to Israel is applicable to us today. This benediction can be divided into three promises.
The Father’s Blessing with Protection
The first promise is the Father’s blessing with protection: “The LORD bless you and keep you” (Num 6:24). The word “bless” really means “to speak well of,” so the simple statement “The Lord bless you” carries the truth of God speaking well of you. Blessings were bestowed upon sons by fathers, as did Isaac and Jacob with their sons. When fathers blessed sons, they divided a portion of their goods to their sons and were, in essence, saying, “I delight in you and I will help you achieve my blessing through my gifts.” As children desire their fathers to find delight in them, God knows we wish the same. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph 1:3 ESV). Our Father has bestowed on us the richness of His grace and we, as His children, have all our needs met.
Consider how our Father blesses us in Ephesians 1. First, He calls us holy and blameless; then He adopts us into the family of God and calls us children. We are accepted in the beloved, redeemed and forgiven through the blood of Christ. We know the mystery of His will, have an eternal inheritance and are sealed with the Holy Spirit. We can conclude by saying, “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” (2Co 9:15).
This blessing came with protection for Israel by placing a hedge about the nation. This same truth is confirmed to us: “But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one” (2Th 3:3 ESV). God has guaranteed us security in Him to the end of life and through eternity. We will not be overcome by the enemy because God, who is greater, has blessed us, and protects us.
The Lord’s Desire for Closeness through His Grace
Next is the promise of the Lord desiring closeness through His grace: “The LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you” (Num 6:25 ESV). The presence of God is everywhere but the face of God is the relational gateway into His holy and glorious character. The problem is that the face of God cannot shine upon man without the death of that man (Exo 33:20). Notice that this benediction is given after the tabernacle service, which involved the blood sacrifices for sin. God, through His radical grace, permits His holy and glorious character to shine upon the nation of Israel. His desire was for a relationship with His people, which He made possible through the blood of sacrifices.
For us today, God’s face shines on us through the finished work of Christ. James stated this promise when he wrote, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (Jas 4:8). We are made for a close relationship with God and God has opened the relationship path. Any human relationship that has gone wrong usually has varying blame on both sides. This is not the case with our relationship with God. If there is any difficulty, it is entirely our fault. God has made Himself available through Christ and we need to be encouraged to live in the enjoyment of this connection. How can we make sure our relationship to God is close? God invites us to allow Him to draw near, and this can occur when we strengthen our faith in His promises. Peter teaches us that during trials we have been granted precious and great promises, and if we trust in these promises we will become partakers of the divine nature (2Pe 1:4). Parents delight in their child rushing to them with their problems, and even greater joy is received when they trust their parents’ advice. Our Father grants unbreakable promises so He can draw near to us.
Through God’s Calm Countenance Comes Peace
Lastly is the guarantee that through God’s calm countenance comes peace: “The LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace” (Num 6:26 ESV). God’s longing for the people of Israel was to grant them the understanding that He was not surprised over the circumstances in which they might find themselves, but rather, He is calm. Nothing catches God off guard. He challenges the gods if they can declare things to come (Isa 41:22). In Ezekiel 12:25 the Lord says, “For I am the LORD; I will speak the word that I will speak, and it will be performed” (ESV). This makes it clear to us that God is not surprised by future events because He has planned them. For us, it is the enjoyment of God’s foreknowledge that will give us the peace of God in all circumstances. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (Joh 14:27 ESV). When our relationship with God is close, we have the peace that is better than any human understanding because He is our sovereign God. Our peace with God has been eternally established at the cross, but the peace of God is up to us to enjoy on a day-by-day basis.
If we live for blessings from others, we will always end up dry. God essentially says, “If all other faces are cast down and raining upon you, mine is shining down upon you.” We may seek approval from earthly relationships (and rightly so), but the ultimate reality is to enjoy God’s approval of us through Christ. “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (Joh 14:21 ESV).