When I was in jr. high and high school, every youth group gathering closed with what I was told was “The MYF Blessing.” As it turns out, it’s a blessing found in Numbers 6:24-26. Here’s how we said it:
“May the Lord bless you and keep you; may the Lord make his face shine upon you, and be gracious unto you; may the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.”Numbers 6:24-26
You can imagine that after saying this Scriptural blessing every week for six years, it holds tremendous meaning to me. Personally, I can’t think of a better blessing with which to close a gathering of God’s people. In my school years, it’s closed our weekly meetings. I often use this blessing at the close of a graveside service. From time to time I use it as the benediction at the end of worship. And now I offer it as I draw my 6-year “gathering” with you to a close.
What is God’s blessing? The common understanding of what it means to be blessed by God is that he gives us good things. We’ve all heard someone say, “I’ve been blessed by God,” usually in relation to success, health, family, wealth, or a job. While it’s true to say that God does bless us with these types of good things, the divine blessing I seek for you goes beyond that.
Genesis 12:3 contains the “Abrahamic blessing.” It’s the blessing Abraham received from God when he was first called to take his family, leave his homeland, and head out to where God would lead him. The actual blessing is set up by verse 2 in which God tells Abraham, “I will make of you a great nation and will bless you. I will make your name respected, and you will be a blessing.” Then comes the blessing:
I will bless those who bless you, those who curse you I will curse; all the families of the earth will be blessed because of you.”Genesis 12:3
When God tells Abraham that all the families of the earth will be blessed because of you, it could be interpreted that they would be given the good things of life – wealth, health, etc. But if we look at Galatians 3:13-14, Paul explains what it means to be blessed.
“13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us—because it is written, Everyone who is hung on a tree is cursed. 14 He redeemed us so that the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, and that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”
Verse 14 makes clear that the blessing of Abraham is comes through Christ Jesus. From this, it’s easy to conclude that the blessing God wants us to receive isn’t material things, but something far greater—the promise of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the is God Himself processed in his Trinity through incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, and descension (the indwelling of the Spirit within each of us) that we may receive him as our life and our everything. This is the focus of the gospel of God.
To be blessed of God through Jesus Christ is to on the receiving end of God’s holy smile! It’s to be bathed in grace. It’s to be given an abundance of peace of heart, mind, and spirit. In short, it’s to be filled with his Spirit so that our lives exude the fruit of his holy presence: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This is the blessing I seek for you in the years ahead.
May God richly bless you in all you do.
p.s and may you be blessed Kari Job’s musical version of the Numbers 6 blessing.