The Aaronic Blessing

A Sermon by Rev. David Moffat

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)

I have long had a fascination for this little poem. I have memories of my father using it at the end of services, although I struggle to remember the words of the blessing itself. Somehow, they always seems to blend into one. It is because of this fascination that I have wanted to spend some time reflecting upon its meaning and message. I could do this by saying things like the first line is three words long, the second, five, and the third, seven – but it hardly seems appropriate to divide and analyse it like this. Like any living thing, tt is far more alive when one contemplates it as a whole.

So, imagine, if you will, Aaron or his sons standing before the children of Israel, blessing them with these words. Imagine how the Lord flows into the words as they are uttered, filling each with meaning. What follows is a dialogue if you like, between the priest and the Lord, as the people are blessed.

The LORD bless you and keep you

“What am I to bless you with, my child? Is it wealth, or power that you need? Is it safety and food? Is it the love and respect of your brothers and sisters? If these are not needs, they cannot truly be blessings. For any given thing which does not satisfy need is mere luxury. It is more of a burden than a blessing, requiring careful handling – responsibility even – lest instead of blessing you it becomes a trap and a snare. He who hoards his blessings will become bloated and weighed down. Surely I can only bless you when you in turn bless others.

And in what are you to be kept? If it is in perpetual safety, will you not loose your concern for the welfare of yourself and others? Laziness will overtake you. If it is in a state of satisfaction, will you not loose your hunger, and the satisfaction of having it filled? Happiness in a job well done will become as foreign to you as the effort required to achieve it. How will unending beauty serve you, except to rob you of finding acceptance in My arms?

the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;

My child, can you not already feel the warmth of My smile upon your soul? The love and grace which you ask for is already yours, as it has been from the day of your birth. It is pleasant to be asked, I suppose – but never, never think that it is lacking because you do not seek it. I know that you cannot think of Me at all times, through the everyday struggles of life. You get so absorbed in providing for your own needs, the needs of your children, your brothers and sisters. I know that you don’t always feel My presence, even when you do look for it. But surely you know how sweet it is to kiss the sleeping child. Do you need to be asked for that simple, unknown act of love? How, then, can I?

the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.

I cannot turn away, though it may seem so at times. How then can I turn towards you? Oh, I know what it looks like. Famines, wars, disasters – and then, so often through the course of your life, you feel that doors are closing before you. But, I ask you, who has turned? When you look for me in the world out there, when you plead with Me for opportunity, for riches, for safety, for satisfaction, are you not looking the wrong way? Do not look without to find Me, to feel My warmth. In that way you will only find a cold uncaring world of people trying to steal the warmth they long for from one another. Turn, look within. There you will find Me to be a source of heat so great that you in turn can radiate it to others.

This is the peace I offer you – the wholeness that without Me, you are incomplete. The more incomplete you can become, the more whole I may make you. Quietness and rest are nothing without quietness of soul. How can the active spirit ever find peace? But, oh, what activity I have in store for you! Activity far beyond your own limited capabilities. Activity in which you may find all you have ever wanted, all you could ever ask – blessing, satisfaction, warmth. And peace. A peace which is constant throughout the bustle of this busy world you have created for yourselves. The peace that with all things, and without all things, you are a child of God.

For I bless you with My Name. A Name which means being, existence. With Me you are all. Without me you are not, nor can you ever be. The greatest peace is simply to be. In the midst of fighting, anger, bitterness, pain, suffering, simply to be. In the midst of friendship, wealth, power, luxury, simply to be. For in that peace of being, you will see My Eternity beyond the moment, My Infinity beyond all distance.

What am I to bless you with, my child? My blessing upon you is My call – your prayer to Me, the response.”

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.

From this, unfolded by means of the internal sense, it is evident what “blessing” as a whole involves namely, that Jehovah, that is, the Lord, from Divine love flows in with Divine truth and with Divine good with those who receive; … (Apocalyse Explained 340.11)

Amen.

Welcoming all people to be part of a living community serving the Lord and encouraging personal development