"Birkat Kohanim" What does it mean to be blessed by God?
By now, you know that I love to teach with a worship song, or perhaps a worship song provokes me to teach! These two songs provoked me today and I am attaching the links to them both. The first is by Messianic Jewish Artists (Father and Daughter) Marty and Misha Goetz, called the "Aaronic Benediction." (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xW4YB6fVvJo) The second is called “The Blessing” by Christian Artists Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zp6aygmvzM4). Please listen. Find a quiet place at home and close your eyes and receive the blessing. I know you will be blessed as you listen to each of these worship songs.
We started His Highest Harmony Ministries, Inc. in 2001. Wow! And in all the time we have ministered, we have not written actual teaching material on the Aaronic Blessing! Hard to believe, huh?
In Hebrew, the blessing is called the “Birkat Kohanim.” Every time I hear it, I cry! Imagining all the benefits God has in store for us can be overwhelming.
We find the priestly blessing in Numbers 6:23-27 and Deuteronomy 28:2 ESV [i]
"23 Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, 24 The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; 26 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. 27 “So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.” "2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God."
Let me provide some background on this Scripture.
Aaron (a Levitical Priest) was commanded to speak these words over the children of Israel. This benediction is a reminder of God’s heart toward the children of Israel. Verse 27 places the power in the Levitical Priest’s hands to bless the children of Israel. Let’s not miss that! (Because today, we have that same power as sons and daughters of the Most-High God). With this blessing, the high priest placed God's name upon the people, along with His character and nature.
Let’s explore what it means to be blessed by God for Believers today:
1 Peter 2:5 You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house—a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Messiah Yeshua. "TLV "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." 1 Peter 2:9 TLV [ii]
God is the only source of all blessings. Although often referred to as the priestly or Aaronic blessing, these are God's words spoken through His Levitical Priests to His people. God is a God who blesses. In fact, when God created Adam and Eve, the first thing He did was to bless them (Genesis 1:28). And what was the last thing Yeshua did? He blessed his disciples. As Yeshua was taken into heaven, he was blessing his disciples. (read Luke 24:50-51). While these words are often spoken as a prayer or petition, there is no "will you" or "may you" found here. God has proclaimed this blessing and has commanded that it be spoken over His people. So be it!
God blesses us personally and corporately. Six times, these verses repeat 'you,' and each time it is in the singular and plural form (Israel). Our God blesses each one personally. God sees you. God knows you intimately, cares for you individually, and blesses you personally. God blesses all of Israel, His chosen people corporately, as well.
God bends down to benefit us. The Hebrew word for bless (barakh) means to kneel. Used metaphorically here, it shows that God bends down to give us Himself and with that, all of His benefits – His faithfulness, mercy, forgiveness, grace, love, comfort, joy, hope, guidance, redemption, adoption, acceptance and more. Ephesians 1:3 tells us we have every spiritual blessing through Yeshua. Because God is infinite, we can never reach the end of His blessing. That's great news!
God blesses as a father to his child. How can God lift His countenance upon us if He is in heaven, and we are on earth? Doesn't he look down upon us? In the Hebrew, the words in verse 26 are a picture of a father lifting his child in his arms - above him. Just as that father lifts up his beaming face to that child, God shines His full pleasure, His full goodwill, and His full joy over us as His children.
God's blessing brings shalom (peace). Who doesn't want shalom? But God's shalom is more than the absence of strife. It's the Hebrew word for peace. Shalom/Shalam, stems from the word which means restoration back to the original state. God's peace means more than simply harmony, but also completeness and wholeness, rest and welfare, soundness and safety.
Take heart today.
Take heart today. In these unprecedented times, where fear is often present, God speaks these words to bless us personally. The God of infinite benefits — gives them to us liberally. And though the world may frown, God's beaming countenance is upon us. Today, each of us can walk in the fullness of our Father's extravagant blessing. Now THAT is a BIG DEAL!
Love in Yeshua,
[i] The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. [ii] Tree of Life (TLV) Translation of the Bible. Copyright © 2015 by The Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society.