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April 4, 2008

Numbers 6:23-27   “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.”

A few days ago there was a brief discussion in the Boar’s Head Tavern about whether the word “bless” is now irrecoverably emptied of meaning.  Shortly thereafter I read this highlight from the book I mentioned yesterday:

“Thus, the man who had put the names of the Israelites on his breast as he went into the Holy of Holies then came forth and through his blessing was the means by which the Lord put his name onto all Israel.  Invoking the name of the Lord in this benediction transferred the name, the identity and presence, of God onto his people.  The blessing was a kind of branding.  The people who had had their sins, the defining mark of separation from God, taken away from them now received in return a defining word of acceptance….

“So Jesus in his ascension took the offering of his blood into the true Holy of Holies, the presence of His Father.  In our name and on our behalf, he offered his perfect life of obedience.  In our stead, he offered his sacrifice.  And it was accepted.  Unlike Aaron, however, Jesus has not yet returned to his people waiting outside.  He remains ‘inside the inner sanctuary behind the curtain’ (Hebrews 6:19).  There he continues to intercede for us, and though he has not yet returned in the flesh to bring the time to consummation, he still blesses us.  For the ascended Christ receives the Holy Spirit from His Father and pours Him out upon the disciples.  This blessing, the Spirit, imprints the name and identity of God upon us in an even more potent and dynamic way than the wonderful Aaronic blessing ever could.” 

Amen.  The Lord bless you and keep you.

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