It proclaims God's blessing upon the use of His means - The first words of a triune God to those gathered together to worship Him in the way He has ordained are, "Grace be unto you and peace."
It is a proclamation, not a wish - The salutation is God's Word; it is certainly true - it is not to be doubted. As God's servant, the minister is to pronounce God's blessing upon His church - His people. To portray this truth, the minister will raise his hands to place them over the people as he places God's blessing upon them, as the High Priest did in the Old Testament and Christ did in the New Testament, when blessing the people (Leviticus 9:22; Luke 24:50). While God's blessing upon the congregation is given to all in an external sense, this is not true in an internal sense. The essence of the promise is for true believers only.
When visiting, Mark's uncle made the following comment: "I wish the church service would just start with the preaching. All those preliminary things to the service are the same every time and they just add to the length of the service."
Mark ran to get his Bible doctrine book. From it, he showed his uncle the importance of the opening votum and salutation.
"I never thought of it in this way before, Mark," his uncle replied. "I see now that there is an entire 'sermon' in the first two sentences spoken by the minister!"
What did Mark's uncle mean when he said, "There is an entire sermon in the first two sentences spoken by the minister"? Why is this statement true?
And Aaron lifted up his hand toward the people. and blessed them, and carne down from offering of the sin offering. and the burnt offering, and peace offerings.
- Leviticus 9:22
And He led them out as far as to Bethany. and He lifted up His hands, and blessed them.