The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
Numbers 6: 24-26, ESV
Continuing my walk through the Bible, I came across this blessing. I had heard it many times and even recited it myself as a benediction sending congregations out after a service. It sounds cool. Looking back it was also the kind of thing one might call “religious”. I’m not too proud of that. My heart was in the right place, though. I truly wanted God to bless those people.
God told Moses to give this blessing to Aaron and his sons to pray for the people of Israel in order to put His name on them so that He would bless them. If I were to use this prayer again in a service, I think that I would begin the sermon with it.
Placed where it is, at the time that the Tabernacle is finished and consecrated, this blessing represents God’s love for His people and His desires to bless them but also that His blessing are to be mediated through the priests that have now been established.
That’s a lot of pressure for the priests, I think. The people are dependent upon them to perform God’s instructions to perfection. Back in my preaching days, coincidentally (or not), I was so terrified that I would say or do something wrong that I don’t know that I ever did anything completely right. That’s one of the problems with being religious in the sense of needing to do certain things in certain ways; a barrier is inadvertently placed between worshippers and the One they seek to worship.
So, today I would lead with this blessing and then continue on about God’s unconditional, eternal love for people and his desire to bless each and every one of us and to give us an infinite peace that surpasses all understanding. If we learn anything from the Tabernacle, it is the importance of drawing close to God who is the true Holy of Holies, and speaking with Him. That is not religious. That is a relationship with God made possible by placing one’s ultimate, hope and trust (faith, in other words) in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (c.f. John 3:15 and following).
I’m going to keep on reading and we will see if anything I said in this post has any bearing on the future of the people of Israel.