A Blessing to Receive and Give

“The LORD bless you, and keep you; The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)

In the first six chapters of the book of Numbers we find the Israelite people preparing for their journey to the Promised Land. They are organizing themselves and learning of their expected duty during the long journey ahead. The Lord God spoke to Moses and gave him the words to give his brother Aaron. Arron was the High Priest and it was he that would represent the people and their concerns before God. The words that Moses gave unto Aaron is known as Aaron’s prayer. This prayer of blessing was used at the close of every meeting of the Jewish people when they came to worship and praise their God. This blessing is still used in the Christian Church and the Jewish Synagogues to this day. The Priest and Pastors offer this blessing to the people from God with hands lifted high to the Most High and stretched over the people.

What does it mean to bless? What is your thoughts when someone says “God Bless You? If we live our lives feeling blessed for the abundance of small but important things that we receive each day, then we see blessing as a gift. The gift of a good job, a home, family, clothing, and the food we eat. The truth is because of the uncertainty of our life each breath we take is a blessing from God, a gift. The root Hebrew word that we translate into bless is “Barak.” It means to kneel. So that when we bless God we kneel and also refers to a gift. We bless God when we kneel and give Him the adoration He justly deserves. When we say “God Bless You” we are asking God to humble Himself and kneel to offer us a gift. When we are given the gifts of a job, home, family, and food and clothing, God has humbled Himself and given us these gifts.

In this prayer first offered by Arron each line begins with “The Lord. When we look at verse 24, The LORD bless you, and keep you, we see the word for keep. In Hebrew this word means to “hedge about.” When we are asking the Lord to keep you we are asking the Lord to put His hedge of protection around you. We are the children of God and are precious to Him. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12)

In the book of Job this was Satan’s ploy that if God would remove the hedge of protection from Job he would abandon his worship of God. “Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. “But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.” (Job 1:10-11) When we pray that the Lord deliver us from evil we are asking Him to bless us with His hedge of protection. Which is what Aaron was asking the Lord to do for the people to bless them with His hedge of protection.

The second line of the prayer, The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you. To understand what it means for the Lord’s face to shine upon us we must look at what it means when God hides His face from us. When we provoke the Lord’s anger by becoming sinful in our words and deeds He will hide His face from us. We will feel the uncertainty that comes when our God has abandoned us. When we have lost the protection of the Lord the evil adversary, who seek to destroy us, will come and attack us. “Then they will cry out to the LORD, But He will not answer them. Instead, He will hide His face from them at that time Because they have practiced evil deeds.” (Micah 3:4) When we turn away from God He turns away from us.

As we travel through this world we are to constantly seek the face of the Lord. “Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually.” (1 Chronicles 16:11) The Lord God is our strength and our refuge in an evil and wicked world. Without the face of God we are powerless to fight against the evil spiritual forces that come against us. King David knew the overwhelming value of God’s Command to seek His face. “When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, O LORD, I shall seek.” Do not hide Your face from me, Do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my help; Do not abandon me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation!” (Psalm 27:8-9)

The second part of this verse is that the Lord will show His grace towards us. The Hebrew word for gracious is that the Lord will stoop or bend down to us and show His kindness. The Lord will show His mercy towards us all of our days. It is as when we stumble and fall and cry out to our loving Lord He stoops down and wraps His loving arms around us and we find our comfort in Him. When we keep are communication open between ourselves and our God we need never be anxious for anything. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

In the third verse of Aaron’s prayer he asks, The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.” Again to understand the countenance of God upon us we need to see what it is meant by having a low countenance upon us.

A good account of a fallen countenance is found in Genesis where Cain had to give a proper sacrifice to the Lord. Cain did not give his first and best, neither did he give a blood of life sacrifice which left sin between him and God. “But for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell.” (Genesis 4:5) Cain became angry with God and jealous of his brother Able. Because of this Cain’s countenance fell and he was scowling and had a frown. Frown is the opposite of smile. Cain lost the same kind of peace that Jesus gives to each of us. “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (John 14:27)

To have God lift up our countenance is to have a heart that is not troubled nor is it fearful. We have a heart that is in tune with our Lord and Savior, a heart that is in fellowship with God. A heart that has no fear nor distracted by trouble and in fellowship with God is a heart that lives in peace.

The last word to take notice of is the word you. God is a big God. Big enough to have a personal relationship with each and every one who dwells above the earth, on the earth, and beneath the earth. Our God is big enough that when He was on the cross of Calvary He was paying the debt of your sin and mine with each one of us in His mind. God is big enough to know and love each one of us. When the blessings of this prayer are recited it is not recited to the congregation but to the individual who sits in the congregation. He is your God and He is my God personally.

The power of this prayer is that the receiver will live with the name of God upon him. It is as it was when I worked for my earthly boss. I performed my duties in the power of his name. As we have the name of the Lord on us we perform our service to Him in the power of His name. “So they shall invoke My name on the sons of Israel, and I then will bless them.” (Deuteronomy 6:27)

In the book of Revelation Jesus spoke these exciting words to those who overcome and join Him in the Kingdom of God. It is a promise that He made to His Church. “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.” (Revelation 3:12)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, February 17, 2016

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