Blessed into Blessing

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.

It reads:

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.

Foundation of Blessing

Two of the most oft used blessings in Judaism are those for bread and wine, said before meals, on Erev Shabbat, and when sanctifying the festival day, even when bread and wine are not the main entrée. Why?

Historically, for the ancient Israelites, bread and wine was the foundation of meals. Bread, usually what we would identify as a flat bread, was inexpensive and easy to prepare; wine was readily available, safe, and consumed by the entire family (Lam. 2:12).

These are but two of the 100 traditional blessings, at least, said daily. Why 100?

Saying a blessing, even an informal off the cuff word of thanksgiving reminds us, and causes us to recognize the blessing and goodness of God that surrounds us. It fosters a disposition of gratitude.

In the wilderness Tabernacle, there were 100 sockets into which support columns were set. The sockets were a foundation of strength and support holding up the place where the people of God met with Him.

In Hebrew socket is אֲדָנִים/adonim, which is a strong foundation or support. The rabbis made an interesting connection. אֲדָנִים/adonim, socket, shares a root with אָדוֹן/Adon, Lord; from which is derived אֲדֹנָי/Adonai, Lord, used in the usual construction of Hebrew blessings: בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ
‎הָעוֹלָם, “Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe…”

A blessing must include the name of God; so each day, at least 100 times a day, the name of God is spoken, and we are reminded that the foundation, and source (בְּרָכָה/bracha) of blessing is the Lord. He is the One who upholds and strengthens this earthly tent of His presence (I Cor. 3:16).

Each day, as we say blessings for life, and the sights, sounds, and miracles around us, we remind ourselves that we are connected to the socket; and in Him, we are strengthened: “I can do all things through Messiah who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).

Next time you say a blessing for food, a beautiful sight, or miracle, remember that you are set in the socket, and He, the Lord, is upholding your life. Amen.

Be well. Shalom.

Servant of Blessing

Have you ever poured a glass of water for a thirsty soul? In the natural you have demonstrated the seemingly mystical act of blessing. It’s actually not mystical at all; rather, it is life changing and life filling.

The Hebrew word blessing, בְּרָכָה/bracha, is derived from a root meaning to kneel, as in kneeling to draw water from a pool; as blessing is related to the word for pool as well.

In Romans 12:14 Paul writes, “Bless those who persecute you – bless and do not curse.” Really? Why?

A blessing, in contrast to what we are accustomed to, is a special type of prayer requiring us to draw upon all the love we have for the human other. When we bless the other, over cursing, our renewed spirit is looking into the heavens, drawing water from the heavenly pool, and asking the Lord to fill whatever is missing from their life in order to heal them.

To bless the other requires love, in fact rabbinic thought suggests that you cannot bless someone you do not love. Blessing requires you to be sensitive in order to discern and the transmit the spiritual cup of water.

In that holy moment you become a faucet, a holy conduit connecting the thirsty to the source of all supply (Phil. 4:19). The beautiful thing is that the person you wish to bless need not be in your presence; you can be a servant of blessing to them from anywhere.

Paul in his wisdom doused the flame of vengeance by telling us to kneel beside the pool, clean and cool, reaching in and drawing out the supply for the others lack. I believe he drew this wisdom from a well-known verse in the Torah, but read slightly differently:

In Genesis 12:2-3, “I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you…”

It is as if the Lord is saying, “You shall be a kneeler at the pool just as I have served you.” Yet, there is more.

Genesis 12:3 opens וַאֲבָרְכָה, מְבָרְכֶיךָ, most familiar and translated as, “I will bless those who bless you.” This can be translated slightly differently, “I will bless those whom you will bless.”

Remember, he desired to make Abraham a blessing, so the Lord now says, “I will bless those whom you will bless.”

He will fill the pool. Supply the cup. He will give the unction of love necessary for you to kneel as a conduit. As Paul writes in Galatians 5:13, “through love serve one another.”

How can we overcome our very human urge to curse those causing us pain? Messiah. Messiah alone. And in Him we witness the power of heaven to shower down blessing upon those serving the other in Him.

Servants of blessing.

Be well. Shalom.