The כֺּהֲנִים/cohenim, the levitical priests, served God in place of the firstborn sons of Israel, called to that service after the sin of the golden calf. They would minister before the Lord and the people, as intermediaries between heaven and earth. Adopted as firstborn sons, by their service, they would raise up and continue the Father/child model of discipleship.
Perhaps the longest continually spoken blessing in the world was given by God to Aaron, and his sons. It has been spoken for some 3,500 years; in both the synagogue and the church.
Called the בִּרְכַּת כֺּהֲנִים (birkat kohanim), the priestly blessing, it is at heart, a short blessing reminding God’s people of His protection, His grace, and His fatherly embrace that lifts us up in and for peace.
יְבָרֶכְךָ יְהוָה, וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ
יָאֵר יְהוָה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וִיחֻנֶּךָּ
יִשָּׂא יְהוָה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם
“The Lord bless and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up His face upon you and give you peace” (Num. 6:24-26).
The Torah specifies that God is doing the blessing, while the priests speak it:
וְשָׂמוּ אֶת-שְׁמִי, עַל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל; וַאֲנִי, אֲבָרְכֵם
“And they will put my name upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them” (Num. 6:27).
According to tradition, a blessing increases what we already have, and the priestly blessing connects today to tomorrow. We have life today, may He increase it for tomorrow.
As Messiah Yeshua/Jesus was ascending to heaven, Luke records, “And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven” (Lk. 24:50-51).
Here we see Yeshua blessing His disciples by “lifting up his hands.” In rabbinic literature, the priestly blessing is also known as nesiat kapayim, the “lifting of the hands.”
Yeshua, our High Priest (Heb. 4:14-16), lifts His hands in blessing over “the congregation (ecclesia) of the firstborn who are written in a scroll in heaven” (Heb. 12:23), among whom He is the Prince and perfecter (Heb. 12:2), the “firstborn among many brothers and sisters” (Ro. 8:29; cf. Col. 1:15, 19; Eph. 1:10-12).
As Peter explains, “you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession …” (I Pet. 2:9). You have been chosen, adopted (Ro. 8:14-15) into heavens priesthood, to serve Him here and now, connecting heaven to today and tomorrow, to build up the lives of those around you.
Your position at birth matters not. Born-again by faith in Messiah, all who call upon His name are now adopted, repositioned, and set for ministry, priestly service, to speak words of His blessing, coupled with actions of blessing delivering His provision (Jas. 2:14-17).
If you are reading this, you are blessed. Yes, you are. You are also an adopted and renewed priest in Messiah, part of that congregation of the firstborn, now doing a priestly service before the Lord and before people (Ro. 12:1; 15:16).
In Jewish tradition, for grace after meals there should be bread on the table, as a sign that God will again increase and safeguard what we have, food.
What bread is on our tables? What bread is before us? The Living Bread from heaven, Yeshua. The source of all blessing, life, and peace. May He continue to increase His presence in our lives, so that we continue to be a blessing in the lives of others.
You have been blessed into blessing. May it be, כן יהי רצון, “according to His will.”
Be well. Shalom.