Tuesday, February 19, 2013
The Aaronic Blessing
Num. 6:22 ¶ The LORD spoke to Moses, saying:
Num. 6:23 Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the Israelites: You shall say to them,
Num. 6:24 The LORD bless you and keep you;
Num. 6:25 the LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
Num. 6:26 the LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.
The Lord had given all kinds of instructions for worship and sacrifice to Moses but now we come to this moment where Aaron and his sons are told how to bless the people. These are God's people and he loves them dearly. He wants his people to understand that walking with him is not just about sacrifice and right living, but about his blessing upon them. This blessing follows in the same line as the patriarchal blessings. Remember when Isaac and Jacob placed their hands on the eldest children and blessed them? There was great significance in the blessing for it foreshadowed the life of the child who received that blessing. The same is true here for the Israelites. They are to receive this blessing of God which will signify the kind of life they may enjoy in him.
Three times they are blessed by the Lord, and there are those who say this is a foreshadowing of an understanding of the Holy Trinity. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are blessing the Israelites. The LORD will bless them and keep them. As long as they keep God's commands, God will bless them and he will keep them safe. This was his promise. The LORD will make his face shine on them, and in this he will be gracious. This is a promise of redemption for God never turns his back on his people. We may turn our backs on him and lave him but he doesn't leave us. His prevenient grace is constantly reaching out to us. God is always facing in our direction, reaching out to his people. Finally, we are told that the LORD will lift up his countenance upon his people and will give them peace. In essence we discover that God smiles at us. He looks with joy upon his children and literally smiles. The result is his peace which flows out over the life of his child.
This blessing is a relational blessing. This is a blessing from a God who is calling his people back into a relationship with him and telling them that it can work! The Israelites constantly struggled with fidelity to their relationship with God. He knew that this would be their struggle and yet his blessing is one in which he says that this relationship is possible.
Sometimes we fail to understand the very depths of the love of God. I believe sometimes he is standing before us and saying, "Here I am -- I have everything you need" -- and yet we go off in a different direction looking for things that have a temporary understanding. We seem to value things that we can have in the here and now and forget about the depths of the love that God has for us.
Think about the temporary nature of things! Just a few years ago a plasma or flat-screen TV cost $10,000. Today you can get the same television for under $1000. The things of this world come and go so quickly that the things we value today may be worthless tomorrow. Why do we put our trust in a world like that? God stands the test of time and he is always there and is always available for us.
The Lord wants to bless us today and keep us within his love. He provides for us the "keeping power" of the relationship which we have with him -- as long as we stay in that relationship with him. He makes his face shine on us -- when we seek his face. We are the ones who so often turn aside and look the other direction. He doesn't! Our faithful God remains faithful, ever looking in our direction, ever reaching out to us with love and grace. Can you imagine how he feels when we ignore him? What must it be like for God to stand facing in our direction and for us to go about our lives without even glancing in his direction? And yet, he loves us enough that he will not be moved. He remains rooted, facing in the direction of those whom he loves, drawing us back into a relationship with him. And when we do respond it literally fills God's heart with joy. God delights in his children. We bring a smile to his face. That's not normally the picture that we have of God, and yet that is the pure joy that exists in him. His joy is to be in a relationship with his children -- loving them in ways we can't even imagine. His promise of love includes a deep and abiding peace.
Where do we want to live these days? Do we want to be out on our own, or under the blessing of God? I want to stand in his holy presence, facing him and allowing his blessing to pour over me and my life. The promise wasn't just for the children of Israel but for all who would join into a personal relationship with God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit -- and he invites us into this incredible relationship of holy love. The blessing is an invitation. Will we respond?
Lord, thank you for the promises which come to us from this blessing. Amen.