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
God decreed what we call the Aaronic (not ironic!) Benediction not only for Aaron, his sons, and the priests to bless Israel (vv. 23-26), but also that the Lord’s name would be placed upon all Israel (v. 27). To have someone’s name placed upon you means to belong to that person. Think of when a child is adopted, and she receives her adoptive parents’ surname—she belongs to them and they to her. Or when a man and a woman get married, and she takes his surname—she belongs to him and he to her. When the priests spoke this benediction—this blessing—over Israel, according to God’s own words, He placed His name upon them. Israel is His and He is Israel’s.
Furthermore, this benediction finds its fulfilment in Baptism, through which we are baptised “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). Here also, we receive God’s name; thus, the Lord blesses, keeps, shines His face upon, is gracious toward, lifts up His countenance, and gives His peace in Baptism. Because Jesus was baptised, in which God said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17), so God speaks these same blessed words of grace to His children who are baptised into His holy name, regardless of age. The Aaronic Benediction, therefore, ought now to be thought as a baptismal blessing. Thus, when you hear your pastor speak these words to you at the end of the Divine Service, know that God is again placing His name upon you just as He’s done in your Baptism to bless you, keep you, make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you, and to lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace. This is not peace in the world, but peace with God (John 14:27).