Grace For Your Day August 14

According to The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, the term “benediction” is defined as “the utterance or bestowing of a blessing, especially at the end of a religious service.” It is a statement of worship that is used at the close of a spiritual ceremony in order to commit the people into the Lord’s care. The encyclopedia states:

From the earliest times the records bear testimony that pronouncing the benediction or giving the blessing was a common practice. In the temple service, this duty was assigned to the Aaronites and was made an impressive part of the service. . . .  After a time, minute directions were given concerning it and careful preparation was made for this part of the service. All Aaronites, of proper age, were entitled to perform this service, except those who by previous conduct or on account of physical defect were disqualified. One who had killed another, whether intentionally or otherwise, or who had violated the marriage vows, had given himself excessively to wine drinking or other excesses, or indeed had been guilty of unrighteous conduct or life, was not only prohibited from pronouncing the blessing, but was required to withdraw before this part of the service was performed. If one was blind even of one eye, or had a defect in his hands or speech, or was a hunchback, he was also excluded.
Before the priest could engage in this service he was required to wash his hands. Then, with uplifted hands, while the people stood, he uttered the words of blessing. The main idea was that thus the name of Yahweh was put on the people.

The encyclopedia then quotes Numbers 6:22-26 as a good example of an Old Testament benediction:

‘Thus you shall bless the sons of Israel. You shall say to them:

The Lord bless you, and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine on you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance on you,
And give you peace.’”

The reason I mention this is because the Book of Hebrews ends with a benediction. After writing 13 chapters, the writer now comes to the final portion of the letter which says in Hebrews 13:20-21:

Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

As you can tell, this benediction emphasizes several key subjects such as “peace” and “the great Shepherd” and “the eternal covenant” and “every good thing.” However, it concludes with the key theme of the Book of Hebrews and that is Jesus Christ.

Why? Because all of these things come to us “through Jesus.” We are able to enjoy peace with God and know Him as our shepherd and experience the covenant that He gives on account of what He did for us on the cross. Our salvation is not based on our works but it is based on His meritorious sacrifice which is why the author can close on this subject. The Lord does not pardon us through the death of sheep and goats like He did under the Old Covenant but through the death of His Son which is what we are going to talk about this week at Grace Fellowship Church.

This Sunday, we are going to have our last sermon on the Book of Hebrews. After studying it for a year and a half, we now come to the final verses and they are some of the most beautiful ones in the entire book. It should raise our hearts in worship simply to read them out loud but we are going to do more than that because we are going to carefully examine them word-for-word. It will provide a good opportunity to put the Gospel on display one more time before we close this series.

If you are interested in learning more about that, please join us this week. Our service begins at 9:30.

– Jeremy Cagle