Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Aaronic Blessing Is Highly Suggestive of the Doctrine of the Trinity

22    The LORD spoke to Moses, saying,23 "Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them,
24    The LORD bless you and keep you;
25    the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
26    the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

27    "So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them."
-Numbers 6:22-27

This passage records the solemn benediction which God appointed for dismissing the people at the close of the daily service. The repetition of the name “Lord” or “Jehovah” three times, expresses the great mystery of the Godhead - three persons, and yet one God. The expressions in the separate clauses correspond to the respective offices of the Father, to “bless and keep us”; of the Son, to be “gracious to us”; and of the Holy Ghost, to “give us peace.” And because the benediction, though pronounced by the lips of a fellow man, derived its virtue, not from the priest but from God, the encouraging assurance was added, “I the Lord will bless them.”
- Jamieson Fausset and Brown Commentary on Num. 6:23-26

The Lord bless thee - There are three forms of blessing here, any or all of which the priests might use on any occasion. The following is a verbal translation: -
1.    May Jehovah bless thee and preserve thee!
2.    May Jehovah cause his faces to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee!
3.    May Jehovah lift up his faces upon thee, and may be put prosperity unto thee!
This is a very comprehensive and excellent prayer, and may be paraphrased thus: -
1.    May God speak good unto thee, by giving thee his excellent promises! (See the note on Gen_2:3). May he preserve thee in the possession of all the good thou hast, and from all the evil with which thou art threatened!
2.    May the Holy Trinity illuminate thy heart, giving thee the true knowledge of thyself and of thy Maker; and may he show thee his graciousness in pardoning thy sins, and supporting thy soul!
3.    May God give thee communion with the Father, Son, and Spirit, with a constant sense of his approbation; and grant thee prosperity in thy soul, and in all thy secular affairs!
This I suppose to be the spirit and design of this form of benediction. Others will doubtless interpret it after their manner. Several wise and learned men believe that the mystery of the Holy Trinity is not obscurely hinted at in it. God the Father blesses and keeps his followers. God the Son is gracious unto sinners in remitting their offenses, which he died to blot out. God the Holy Spirit takes of the things which are Christ’s, and shows them unto genuine Christians, and diffuses the peace of God in their hearts. In a word, Christ, the gift of the Father by the energy of the Holy Spirit, came to bless every one of us by turning us away from our iniquities.
1.    Every genuine Christian is a true Nazarite. He is separated from the world, and dedicated solely to the service of God.
2.    His life is a life of self-denial; he mortifies and keeps the flesh in obedience to the Spirit.
3.    All this enters into the spirit of his baptismal vow; for in that he promises to renounce the devil and all his works, the pomps and vanities of this wicked world, and all the sinful lusts of the flesh - to keep God’s holy word and commandments, and to walk in the same all the days of his life.
4.    The person who is faithful has the blessing of God entailed upon him. Thus shall ye bless the children of Israel, etc., etc. See the notes on Num_6:5-7 (note).
- Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible on Num. 6:24

Numbers 6:24
The Lord bless thee,.... Jehovah, Father, Son, and Spirit; the word "Jehovah" being three times used, and a different accent put to each word, denoting three distinct persons and one Jehovah, according to Deu_6:4; who are each of them concerned in the blessing of the Lord's people, the spiritual Israel of God; Jehovah the Father blesses with all spiritual blessings, with electing, adopting, justifying, and pardoning grace, with regenerating and calling, and persevering grace, and with eternal life: Jehovah the Son blesses particularly with redeeming grace, and has a concern in all the other blessings; the saints are blessed with them in him, they are all in his hands, they are procured by him, come through him, and are the gifts of his grace: and Jehovah the Spirit blesses as a spirit of regeneration and sanctification, as the spirit of faith, as a comforter, as the spirit of adoption, and as the earnest and sealer of the saints unto the day of redemption:

and keep thee; from, the evil of the world, from the evil one Satan, from the evil of sin, and the power, prevalence, and dominion of it, and from falling totally and finally by it, and keep in a state of grace unto everlasting salvation.

Numbers 6:25
The Lord make his face to shine upon thee,.... Cause himself, the sun of righteousness, to arise and shine upon them, and give both spiritual light and heat unto them; grant his gracious presence, the manifestations of himself, communion with him, clearer discoveries of his love, of interest in him, and an increase of spiritual light and knowledge of his Gospel, and the truths of it, and of his mind and will:

and be gracious unto thee; by granting larger measures of grace out of his fulness, by leading more abundantly into it, and making fresh and frequent applications of it; grace is often wished for from Christ as well as from the Father.

Numbers 6:26
And the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee,.... Show his face and favour, look cheerfully on his people, declare himself well pleased with them in Christ, and appear as smiling upon them through him, indulging them with visits of love, restoring to them the joys of his salvation, and upholding them with his free Spirit; and so causing them to walk pleasantly and comfortably in the ways of God, expecting eternal life and happiness, as God's free gift through Christ:

and give thee peace; all outward needful prosperity, internal peace of mind, through the blood and righteousness of Christ, the peacemaker, and peace giver, and eternal peace in the world to come.
- John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible on Num. 6:24-26

...In these three blessings most of the fathers and earlier theologians saw an allusion to the mystery of the Trinity, and rested their conclusion, (a) upon the triple repetition of the name Jehovah; (b) upon the ratio praedicati, that Jehovah, by whom the blessing is desired and imparted, is the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and (c) upon the distinctorum benedictionis membrorum consideratio, according to which bis trina beneficia are mentioned (cf. Calovii Bibl. illustr. ad h. l.). There is truth in this, though the grounds assigned seem faulty. As the threefold repetition of a word or sentence serves to express the thought as strongly as possible (cf. Jer_7:4; Jer_22:29), the triple blessing expressed in the most unconditional manner the thought, that God would bestow upon His congregation the whole fulness of the blessing enfolded in His Divine Being which was manifested as Jehovah. But not only does the name Jehovah denote God as the absolute Being, who revealed Himself as Father, Son, and Spirit in the historical development of His purpose of salvation for the redemption of fallen man; but the substance of this blessing, which He caused to be pronounced upon His congregation, unfolded the grace of God in the threefold way in which it is communicated to us through the Father, Son, and Spirit...
- Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament on Num. 6:22-26

And one called to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!"- Isa. 6:3 [cf. Rev. 4:8]

I pointed out elsewhere regarding the Aaronic Blessing, the triple use of "Holy" in reference to God [Isa. 6:3; Rev. 4:8], and the triple reference to God (despite using different words) in the Shema, the following:

By the way, it's often pointed out that the use of triples in the above passages doesn't necessarily allude to the Trinity since the same grammatical repetition is used of other things in the Old Testament and in the Hebrew language in general. That's true. But we have to ask ourselves why three rather than two or four or five is the number of times to be used for the full, complete and highest degree of absolute emphasis? Might it be that God Himself implanted, directly or indirectly by His providence, in the historical development of the languages and Semitic cultures of that time a 
subconscious echoing knowledge and understanding of the Absolute, the ultimate reality? That is, of the reality of  God as a Trinity? Might it be the other way around? That rather than the use of triples in reference to God MERELY being a hinting at and pointing toward the Trinity, might it also ultimately be the case that the Trinity itself is the very source and grounding of that linguistic feature found in various Semitic cultures?

See also the following verses:

O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name."- Dan. 9:19

For the LORD is our judge; the LORD is our lawgiver; the LORD is our king; he will save us.- Isa. 33:22

4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the SAME Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the SAME Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the SAME God who empowers them all in everyone.- 1 Cor. 12:4-6

It's interesting that Paul uses the word "SAME" three times.

It's also interesting that the Shema refers to God three times regardless of how one translates it1.

  1. Yahweh (is) our God, Yahweh alone.
  2. Yahweh our God (is) one Yahweh.
  3. Yahweh our God, Yahweh (is) one.
  4. Yahweh (is) our God, Yahweh (is) one.
  5. Our one God, (is) Yahweh, Yahweh
Regarding the Shema and Mark 12:29, David H. Stern notes in his Jewish New Testament Commentary:

...Likewise, here in the Sh'ma (Deuteronomy 6:4) there are two such r'mazim: (1) the triple reference to God, and (2) the use of the word "echad," which often means a multiple unity (such as "one" cluster of grapes or "one" bundle of sticks) instead of "yachid," which nearly always excludes multiple oneness. -page 97
Notice that Stern does not make the common Christian mistake in claiming that "echad" [always] means "compound unity." Echad merely means, "one." Whether it is compound or simple oneness. By "triple reference to God" Stern is talking about the fact that God is mentioned three times in the Shema. "Hear, O Israel: The LORD [1st reference] our God [2nd reference], the LORD [3rd reference] is one."

Also compare Rom. 11:36

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.- Rom. 11:36
This might be an allusion to the Triune Nature of of Almighty God.
Same with some (not necessarily all) of the the passages in the book of Revelation that refer to Almighty God as "who was, and is, and is to come." See the footnote below.

If the Aaronic Blessing does allude to the Son and the Holy Spirit, then they are being invoked in a way that's proper only for God. While Arians and Semi-Arians would definitely reject the allusion, Nicene Monarchists might. But if they do see that allusion, that would seem to discomfirm Nicene Monarchism and lend support to Trinitarianism since it would imply that the Son and the Holy Spirit are also fully God.

There's also no question that the New Testament has statements about the Son and Spirit that corresponds to the blessings pronounced

24    The LORD bless you and keep you;
25    the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
26    the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

For example:

At Christ's transfiguration, He was shining in a way similar to what we find in Rev. 1:12-16 which includes in its description of the glorified Christ, "...his face was like the sun shining in full strength."

For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.- 2 Cor. 4:6

And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.- Matt. 17:2

And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white.- Luke 9:29

The Holy Spirit is also associated peace.

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.- Rom. 14:17

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.- Gal. 5:22-23

 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.- Act 9:31

It's interesting that the Old Testament doesn't stop at two witnesses as being sufficient. It also mentions three witnesses. Obviously, more than three witnesses would be even better in a court of law. However, the specific mention of three might be a Hebrew remez hinting at the Trinity. According to David H. Stern's Jewish New Testament Commentary:

(2) Remez ("hint") — wherein a word, phrase or other element in the text hints at a truth not conveyed by the p'shat. The implied presupposition is that God can hint at things of which the Bible writers themselves were unaware. - page 12
(1) P'shat ("simple") — the plain, literal sense of the text, more or less what modern scholars mean by "grammatical-historical exegesis,"...- page 11

In the New Testament Father, Son and Holy Spirit testify to the truth of the Gospel. Thus suggesting the equality of each person.

For a fuller elaboration of this argument see my blog:

The Witness of the Holy Spirit

Examples could be multiplied regarding how the Son and Holy Spirit bestow the New Testament counterpart blessings to the Old Testament Aaronic blessings.

See also my blogs:

All Three Persons of the Trinity Mentioned In Scripture (Directly or Indirectly)

Old Testament Passages Implying Plurality in God


The book of Revelation's use of the phrase "was, and is, and is to come" (and its variations). Revelation 1:4 clearly speaks of the Father because Christ is referred to in the next verse. However, it might be the case that sometimes the phrase hints at the Trinity rather than a specific person of the Trinity. If it does sometimes hint at and make reference to the Trinity; then I personally suspect the following in those instances:

1. The "was" refers to the Father because He is the first person of the Trinity (especially if there's any truth to the doctrines of the eternal generation/filiation of the Son, and eternal procession/spiration of the Holy Spirit.

2. The "is" refers to the Holy Spirit who is the true "vicar of Christ" (contrary to Papal claims) who takes the place of Christ while He is in heaven. This "dispensation" and Era or Age being especially that of the Holy Spirit as He convicts the world, regenerates the elect, sanctifies the saints, and leads believers into ever increasing truth. The church, along with the Holy Spirit who "arrived" on earth at Pentecost, call for the the Lord Jesus to "come" and return to earth. "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come." (Rev. 22:17a). So, it's appropriate for the Holy Spirit to be the one who "is."

3. The "is to come" refers to Christ who is the one especially expected to arrive in the eschaton at His second Advent. The Church eagerly anticipates His return (Rev. 22:20).

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