The Aaronic Blessing
Then Aaron lifted his hands toward the people and blessed them. And having sacrificed the sin offering, the burnt offering and the fellowship offering, he stepped down. Moses and Aaron then went into the Tent of Meeting. When they came out, they blessed the people; and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. Fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown. (Leviticus 9:22-24 NIV)
The LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. 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 turn his face toward you and give you peace.”’ “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.” (Numbers 6:22,24-27 NIV)
“The LORD bless you and keep you”
The Hebrew word for ‘bless’ is barak, and it comes from the root word for ‘to kneel’. The Hebrew word for ‘to keep’ is shamah, and it comes from the root word for ‘hedge about’ and ‘to protect’. Now imagine a father bending down on his knees, with his arms protecting his child and giving the child things that the child needs. The blessings we enjoy today, be it our family, our jobs, our wealth and much more, are all blessings that God bends down to protectively and lovingly give us.
“The LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you”
God wants his face to shine upon us, and he wants to be gracious to us. However, no one can see God’s face now, as He is holy. He told Moses in Exodus 33:20, “But,” He said, “You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
But we will see God’s face when we go to heaven, Revelation 22:4, “They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.”
What does it take for us to experience God shining His face upon us? 2 Chronicles 7:14, says “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
Having God’s face shining on us is not to be taken literally because God isn’t human and does not have a physical face like we do. As John 4:24 says, “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
In the Old Testament, God’s ‘face’, as used in 2 Chronicles 7:14 refers to His presence. God wants us to humble ourselves, pray to Him, seek to be in His presence and turn from our wicked ways. God does not intend to leave us alone to change on our own. He didn’t say, “Change first then seek my face.” Instead, He said “seek my face and turn” from our wicked ways. He wants to be our God and help us to change because He is our Abba. He will never let us walk alone.
“The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace”
What does that mean? To understand this, we refer to other passages in the Bible. The usual use of ‘countenance’ depicts ‘facial expression’, to describe the feeling of the person at the moment. For example:
But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. (Genesis 4:5 KJVS)
And she said, “Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight.” So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad. (1 Samuel 1:18 KJVS)
Cain frowned when he did not give God the offering with respect. Hannah’s face (‘countenance’) was downcast. When God lifts His countenance, He smiles.
And God gives us peace. This peace is not the fluffy feeling of satisfaction in our heart but the peace between God and us, ‘Shalom’. For us to be given peace, Christ died as the sacrifice for us.
Last but not least, ‘you’ in the Aaronic blessing is singular, which means God wants to give peace to each and everyone one of us. This is significant because we are important to God, each one of us.
Andy is the head of compliance for an international bank and is happily married, with three daughters. He became a disciple of Christ three decades ago, and studies God's Word passionately. He desires to be constantly led by the Spirit.