Monday, April 23, 2012

120420 - Numbers 05-06 - Threefold Levitical Blessing

Friday SOAP: In today's reading, the Levitical (priestly) blessing is explained. Putting the name of the LORD on the people required a threefold blessing, like Jesus' three-in-one baptismal formula.

S: The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them,
The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
“So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”
(Numbers 6:22-27)

O: I have read and heard this blessing many times, but today is the first time it occurred to me that it is essentially trinitarian. In fact, it is called the "threefold" or "three-in-one" blessing, in harmony with 2 Corinthians 13:14:

"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all."

A: When the priests invoke this blessing, by tradition, they hold each hand in a splayed, three-pronged position to represent the Hebrew letter Shin. Shin stands for Shaddai, as in "God Almighty," (Gen. 17:1) meaning all-sufficient, abundant provider. But what is even more interesting is that the hands are angled together so that a triangle is formed in the negative space.

Tradition, of course, is just that - tradition. But some things in the text make me think that the Lord may be hinting at something greater:

  1. God designates the blessing - He doesn't leave it to the priests to invoke their own blessing.
  2. The name YHWH is invoked three times.
  3. The conclusion of the revelation says, this is how they shall put my name upon Israel.
  4. "I will bless them," God says, if this pattern is followed. The priests aren't really blessing, only invoking the blessing.
  5. God concludes by saying this is how they shall put His name upon the people of Israel.

I would not venture to try to suggest which Person is being referenced in which statement, but I do think this compares to Jesus baptismal commandment in Matthew 28:19

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 28:19)

This is very definitely not the "names" of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but the "NAME" (singular). Grammatically, I could not say, the "name of Peter, James and John," but it is the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. God is one and has one name. Likewise, when God's NAME was put upon the people of Israel, it was done in a threefold blessing.

P: Lord, how true it is that every detail points to you. Like Job, help me treasure your Word more than my necessary food.


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