The BenedicitionBy Rev. Yolanda Davis
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 upon 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 6:22-27 (NIV)
You woke up early one Sunday morning and ‘decided’ to go to church. You’re sitting in the pew taking in the service with an ear to the word and an eye on the clock. The choir team has sung; the offering has been taken and the preacher begins to preach a word and you mustered an amen and a hallelujah all along keeping an eye on the clock. You sense the preacher is coming to the end of the sermon and you strategize your exit, choosing not to stay for the benediction; for the blessing.
QUESTION: If you came to church and heard the ‘Word’, then why leave before the blessing?
The ‘benediction’ also known as a ‘blessing’ is the English term that reflects the Latin benedicto - literally meaning ‘a pronouncement of well -being (weal)’. It is the pronouncement of the favor of God upon an assembled congregation.
God instructed Moses to assign the ‘blessing’ to the Aaronites, who preserved the ‘benediction’ of Numbers 6:24-26. All Aaronites of proper age were entitled to perform this service except those who by previous conduct or on account of physical defect were disqualified.
Before the priest could engage in this service he was required to wash his hands. Then, with uplifted hands while the people stood, he uttered the words of blessing. The name of Yahweh was thus put on the people.
In the priestly blessing in Numbers 6:24-26, ‘The Lord bless you and keep you’ emphasizes concrete gifts of blessing and security (or guarding). ‘The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you’ stresses the hope that God’s will be well disposed towards the person (or to lighten or shine upon the worshipper) and thus temper judgment with mercy (or to be gracious). ‘The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace’ emphasizes that God will pay attention to you (or lift his face), this providing fullness of life (or completeness,peace/shalom). It is important to note that the peace of God in the priestly ‘blessing’ or ‘benediction’ embraces even more aspects of life - good health, security, inner harmony, wellness, material prosperity, and a long life.
Today, the ‘benediction’ or ‘blessings’ is often regarded merely as a ritual of dismissal, but it is actually a pronouncement of God’s gracious favor, to be given only by God’s ministers on the authority of Holy Scripture to the faithful believers. In this action, we are assured that the grace of God the Father, the love of the Son, and the communion of the Holy Spirit are with us.
Do not be like Judas who left before the ‘benediction’ but instead - stay for the ‘benediction’ and receive your ‘blessing’.
This is your Food For Thought
Rev. Yolanda A. Davis