The LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. 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 turn his face toward you and give you peace.”‘ “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.” – Numbers 6:22-27
What can one say after the many lost lives in Joplin and throughout the world in these past few months? Natural disasters seem to be weekly. Platitudes have no comfort. It is like giving a band-aid to someone who needs a major bandage. I find it best to turn to God’s holy Word. There is life in the Word of God. God brings us comfort that is more than just a platitude. It has power to heal and uplift. One passage that comes to mind is the Benediction.
You hear it almost every Sunday as you stand at the close of the worship service and start to think about heading home. At the end of the service, the pastor speaks the blessing that God wants his people to have. You realize that God is once again putting his name on each of us with this 3400-year-old benediction before we go out the door.
God himself told Moses to teach Aaron and all the priests to use these words as they blessed God’s people. When Moses had gone up on Mount Sinai with the second set of stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, he took the risk of asking God to show his glory. God agreed to do that by passing in front of Moses while declaring his name, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God…” (Exodus 34:6-7). You have learned to love that name, “LORD”, because it tells us so much about God’s heart toward his creation and especially toward his believing children.
In the blessing, you hear that name, “LORD”, three times, as if he really wanted to make sure you know how much he cares about you before you go out into a harsh, uncaring world.
You also clearly see a reference to the Triune God as you hear our LORD telling what he intends to do for you:
• “The LORD bless and keep you.” A blessing is always a gift. Our Heavenly Father wants to give you this special gift for your life, a reminder of his love. He promises to keep you, which covers everything from providing for your daily physical needs to keeping you from spiritual harm and danger because he wants you to join him in heaven some day.
• “The LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you.” Immediately your thoughts turn to Jesus because he is the strongest, most beautiful evidence of God grace to you. You look at the cross above the altar and are reminded yet one more time before you leave that Jesus has paid for your sins and made you holy. You are forgiven!
• “The LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.” He wants you to know that he hasn’t turned his back on you, but is favorably looking at you and so happy that you received the Holy Spirit who has given you saving faith in Jesus. Your sins are forgiven, and you have God’s gift of peace deep in your soul. You are assured that you are one of God’s favorites!
What a gift God has just given you! No wonder you look forward to the rest of the week with such joy. Our LORD has his name on you!