"This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them: "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."
"So they shall put my name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them."
The blessing is ancient, and has been used as a benediction to countless worship services as we implore God to look favorably upon us. It is a masterpiece of poetry, speaking of God's face shining gloriously as he gazes upon us benevolently, and is arguably the most commonly used blessings in Jewish and Christian history. So when I noticed the conclusion of this blessing, I was startled. Through these words God stamps his name on his people, claiming them for himself in order that he might bless them.
It is instructive that our words of blessing trigger God's act of blessing. The text tells us that when we offer our word of blessing, God responds by actually blessing his people. Our words bring God's action, and that action comes in the form of God's placing his sign of ownership upon us.
We often act as if our words were merely words; nasty or nice, but that's as far as they go. This is but one place in Scripture where it is asserted that our words have power to shake heaven and earth. I am grateful tonight for the power of words. May ours be words of blessing and encouragement, and of prayers of intercession for others. Our most powerful words might just be the ones we offer to God on behalf of those in need.