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Archive for April 1st, 2022

Today we’re continuing with the gem found in the book of Numbers that we looked at yesterday. You can find yesterday’s blog here. We’re looking at this passage:

22  The LORD said to Moses,
23  “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:
24  ‘The LORD bless you and keep you;
25  the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
26  the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.’
27  “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”
Numbers 6:22-27 (NIV)

Today I want to look at the specific elements of the blessing. Remember it is the specific instruction God gave to the priests about how to bless the Israelites. And God promised that when the priests blessed the people in this way, God would bless them. As I wrote yesterday, there’s nothing “magical” about the words, but they are instructive about how we are to bless others. So let’s look at each element.

Verse 24: “The Lord (Yahweh) bless you and keep you.”

“The Lord bless you” – may He bless you as He desires to bless you. Let’s let Him decide how to bless, rather than being more specific and praying that He would bless them with __________ (fill in the blank). God knows the needs of the person being blessed better than we do, and I sometimes think we are working against the purposes of God when we are overly specific in our prayers. I’m not saying it’s wrong to pray “Lord, my friend needs a job, we ask that you would bless her with one.” I am saying that this passage encourages us to pray “Lord, bless my friend where he or she is right now” – because God knows each of our needs beyond the obvious we may see or feel.

Notice that the object of the blessing is “you.” In the original language, it is a singular “you.” It is a personal blessing for the one being blessed. It’s not a mass-produced blessing that God just pulls off His shelf of ready-made blessings. It is a blessing unique to the needs of the person being blessed. Wow! God knows my name, He knows my thoughts, He knows my needs, He knows me – better than anyone else – and he has a blessing designed and created just for me. Again – wow! And Thank You, Lord.

A favorite verse of mine is Psalm 34:15 – The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry” (NIV). The verse says to me that He is always listening and ready to respond to my cry. He hears me. He is El Roi – the God who Sees, and El Shama – the God who Hears.

“The Lord bless you [wow!] and keep you.” The word translated “keep” comes from a root word that means to put a hedge around, to guard, to protect, and to attend to. Remember this is a blessing – we are not asking God to do these things, we are blessing the recipient with these things. We are giving them God’s hedge around them, His protection of them, and I love the last phrase – we are bringing God’s attention to them that He might attend to them. He will be attentive to those who are blessed, knowing even the number of hairs on their head (Matthew 10:30).

Verse 25: “The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you.”

Notice the third word in that verse – “make”. The blessing invokes the Lord to purposefully make His face shine upon you. Just as I want to be intentional about my walk with the Lord, He is intentional about blessing me. May the Lord make the glory and light of His countenance shine upon you.

There are some who describe prayer as holding others in the light of God. It is a phrase often used by our Quaker brothers and sisters. Light blows away darkness. Light brings healing. Light leads the path before us. Light warms our bodies. May the Lord be purposeful in shining His light upon you.

The word translated “gracious” is almost equally translated mercy or merciful as it is gracious or favor/favorable. May God make His face shine with His glory upon you, and may He be merciful and gracious to you. There is only love in that verse. There is no condemnation, there is no judgment, there is no taskmaster-like ruler or kingship. There is love and compassion and a ready desire to bless.

Verse 26: “The Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.”

May God turn His face toward you, see you, and give you peace. Again, we have God being purposeful in turning toward us, looking upon us with His glory shining upon us (from verse 25), and “give you peace.” The word “give” literally means put or set upon you. His peace transcends anything happening in our lives – it is more like a blanket that covers and protects us, it settles on us and we can wrap ourselves in it. Even though all around us there may be chaos, His peace covers us. Peace is not the absence of conflict or chaos, it is God’s light covering us and shining on the things that are most important so that our attention is directed toward them instead of the chaos. It is also knowing that He will bless us and keep us, that He will be gracious to us, and that His solutions will prevail no matter what the day looks like.

The word is “shalom” and it means prevailing peace and well-being, and is the final phrase of the blessing that with which we are to bless the people of God. And God’s promise is that when we do so, He will bless them.

Our Powerful Opportunity

Friends, as I wrote yesterday, let’s not shy away from our authority to bless others. Know that you bless others with this blessing, you invoke God’s blessing upon them.

That’s a powerful opportunity. And dare I say responsibility. Go forth and bless, friends.

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