The Herald Weekly Vol XVI : 17

The Benediction

Every time we say “goodbye” to someone at the end of a meeting or get-together, do you know that you are sending the person a benediction? A benediction is a blessing that is pronounced at the end of a church service like:

“The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.” (Num 6:24-26)

But how is the “goodbye” a benediction. It is the late 16th century word contraction of “God be with thee,” or “God be with you”. It was influenced by the late 14th century phrases like “good day,” “good evening,” and more ( What exactly is the meaning of having a blessing from God such as the Aaronic blessing that was said at the end of every tabernacle service (Lev 23:33-43).

What does God’s Blessing Comprise of?

The word “Benediction” is Latin for good word as “bene” means “good” and “diction” is “word”. Hence, benediction simply means “The good word.” In the Genesis creation account, it was said that “. . . And God saw that it was good” (Gen 1:10, 12, 21, 25, 31). This tells us that God was delighted with what He created. It was His way of blessing, or saying a good word about His own works.

In ancient and Biblical times, fathers bless their children when the former are on their dying bed. For example, Jacob was about to close the last chapter of his life, and he gathered all his children and grandchildren so that he could bless them. He showed his delight in each one of them, longing for their prosperity and their good (Gen 48). His blessing on them was not just wishing for their good. He actually divided his property and bestowed it on each of them in order to achieve good. He actually committed his wealth and estate to them in order to achieve that good. The original meaning of benediction has that kind of meaning – bestowing on the children for the good in the near future.

When the High Priest pronounced the benediction in the Tabernacle, “The Lord bless you and keep you…,” he was saying on behalf of God, as God would say: “I delight in you. Not only do I delight in you and wish you well, I am committed with all my powers to achieving your good.”

We need God’s blessing to give us inner peace and confidence. We do not need to run to other sources to receive any assurance that we are alright. God’s blessing on us is important to help us know that we are His children and we will get to enjoy His blessings.

The next part in the Aaronic benediction: “…the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you.” What does that mean? Do you know the difference between the face of God and the presence of God? The presence of God is everywhere but He does not have a personal relationship with everyone. When God’s face turns to us and shines upon us, we have the blessing of God’s personal presence with us. When His face shines upon us, it gives the idea of His joyous smile radiating on us, and that He will show us His favour. This can only take place if we have an intimate and personal relationship with God.

God’s blessing is vital to us because we cannot bless ourselves. The only true blessing comes from God who is above. It comes through His appointed servants who pronounce it at the conclusion of each worship service.

How Does God’s Blessing Come To Us?

The benediction in the Old Testament times came after all the offerings, sacrifices, atonement and blood sacrifices for sin were carried out by the High Priest. After that the relationship with God was renewed and restored. When the people of God are reconciled to God, then the blessings of God will be bestowed on His people.

Jesus is the fulfillment of the entire OT sacrifices as said by the writer to the Hebrews: “And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sin: But this man (Jesus Christ), after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;” (Heb 10:11-12). One Priest offered the ultimate sacrifice, that is, none other than Jesus who offered Himself as a sacrifice and the blessings come to all who trust in Him.

God’s blessings come to us through our Lord Jesus Christ. Because He is God’s begotten Son, the Heavenly Father is well- pleased: “In whom I am well pleased” (Matt 3:17). In His sacrifice, Jesus took away the curse off from the fallen man (Gal 3:13) who rests his trust in the sacrificial lamb of God. Now God can look at us with a smile in the benediction because in Christ we are clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. God the Father looks at us and takes pleasure in us with a smile because of what Christ did on the cross for our sins. John’s gospel says, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name”. (Jn 1:12). Praise God that we have the promise of God that all spiritual blessings in heavenly places are with us (Eph 1:3).

How Does God’s Blessing Reshape Your Life?

“The Lord bless you and keep you . . . And be gracious unto you.” His grace is extended to us. By grace we are saved (Eph 2:9), we are transformed by being born again in Christ. The first thing that reshapes us is our identity with the Lord. We are no longer ourselves, but we belong to Him, thus, becoming members of God’s family.

When we become a member of God’s family, we are no more alone. If we have a problem, Christ as our big brother comes to support us. He is our defence against Satan’s attacks, and He responds to our requests. He is going to be with us even to the end of the age (Matt 28:20).

In receiving God’s benediction, we also receive security. The Heavenly Father who loves us and gave us His Son to us says that no one can take us away from the Father’s hand, (Jn 10:28). It is most assuring to have this promise because in the passage of time many we know will leave us or break the friendship for some cause and reason, or in course of nature. But Jesus’ wonderful promise is that He will always stand beside us at all times.

God’s benediction grants us intimacy that reshapes our life in terms of changing our relationship with God. God said to all His children, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee,” (Heb 13:5b). That means we can turn to the Lord at any time, in all places and in all situations. We can pour our hearts to Him like the Psalmist did, and expect an intimate response from our Lord. As it is said, “God is just a prayer away.” He hears every heartbeat, listens to our inner struggle and whispers in tears.

In response to this understanding of benediction, let us curse not but bless those who say all manners of evil against us or persecute us due to our trust in Jesus. Instead, we should bless them and not return evil for evil because one day, they may turn to the Lord and be converted.

May we be glad to receive the Benediction from the Heavenly Father each Sunday.

Pastor Bob Phee

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