"The LORD bless you and keep you."
— Numbers 6:24
We use the word bless a lot. It's an apropos response to someone who is sneezing, or we might use it to end a conversation: "Well, it's really good to see you! God bless!" And sometimes we may hear someone who has no interest in Jesus Christ say this or that is a blessing. But they don't even know what the word really means.
Bless is a spiritual word. Jesus both started and concluded His ministry by blessing people. When children came to Him, He took them into His arms and blessed them. After His resurrection, He lifted up His hands and blessed the disciples. Jesus loved to bless people.
Then we have the Beatitudes, which are the first verses of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted" (Matthew 5:3–4). Again and again in these opening verses of Matthew 5, Jesus used the word blessed.
In the book of Numbers, God commanded the priests to pronounce a blessing on His people, a people wandering in the wilderness. He wanted this blessing pronounced on the people again and again: "The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace" (Numbers 6:24–26).
Essentially God was saying, "I want this ingrained in their brains. I want it etched into their hearts. I want them to know this blessing from memory and be able to recite it at a moment's notice." Why? Because this blessing would show them what God is like. It shows His nature and attitude toward them and, in effect, toward us.