Aaron’s Prayer

“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)

My father would close each service with this prayer from the High Priest Arron. I liked it as it sounded good and certainly encouraging. Other than that I liked it for all the wrong reasons. It was the signal that the long hour of worship service had come to an end for that Sunday service. That I now could escape from the entrapment of the starched shirt and heavy suit jacket I was made to ware. That the rumblings in my empty stomach would soon be silenced with mom’s fried chicken. Every Sunday we had fried chicken, so much so that today it would be the last thing on the menu that I would chose to eat. In my biblical knowledge of that day I thought this these wonderful words were something that my father had written since he always repeated them at the end of each sermon. I have read commentaries on these verses and they found meaning that I have over the years failed to see and now I think it time to explore deeper into these words of God.

It is obvious that this is a blessing for the people that God had chosen, the Israelites. A blessing is when one asks God’s favor and goodness to be placed upon others. Something that each and every one needs. I bless a lot of people every time they sneeze but that is just being polite. But praying a blessing from God for others is a tremendous act of love for one another, as God has the power to make these blessings come to be for those whom we ask. It is of course God’s discretion as to the coming of the blessing, as He knows, but we can be sure He that hears our prayer. “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.” (1 John 5:14-15) Our prayers for another to be blessed by God is a selfless act of love for one another.

God can bless men and He can curse men. Remember the example from the Garden of Eden when God cursed the man and the woman for their sin. He also cursed Satan and the earth as well. (Genesis 3) The blessings from the Lord will rest upon those who are faithful to Him. “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you listen to the commandments of the LORD your God, which I am commanding you today; and the curse, if you do not listen to the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside from the way which I am commanding you today, by following other gods which you have not known.” (Deuteronomy 11:26:28) The choice is ours because of our free will. Do we obey and receive a blessing or rebel and earn a curse?

There are many blessings that God pours out upon people. All are good and deserve our praise. “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” (James 1:17) Quite correctly some are critical to us and we will look at just a few.

We receive the blessing of forgiveness from God. Without the forgiveness of God we will stand in the court of Heaven and be judged guilty and face eternity without His love. “How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit!” (Psalm 32:1-2) We have this blessing and we also have this assurance from His Word. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

When we accept Jesus as our personal Savior and follow Him in faith He gives us His righteousness. God then sees us through the righteousness of His Son Jesus. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) This is the only way that God can admit us into His Heaven. I would say that is a wonderful blessing from God. “He shall receive a blessing from the LORD And righteousness from the God of his salvation.” (Psalm 24:5)

Through the righteousness of Jesus we can receive salvation. There is no other way as not one of us can live a perfect life as He did. We are admitted through His salvation and not our own. It is a gift through God’s grace and an eternal blessing. “Salvation belongs to the LORD; Your blessing be upon Your people! Selah.” (Psalm 3:8)

Through Jesus we have a path to life everlasting in the Kingdom of Heaven. He is the door and all must pass through Him. “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6) Because sin entered into the world all life faces death. Those who place their faith in Jesus will be spared the second death, which is the destruction of the spirit. And live eternally in a place that He has prepared. “It is like the dew of Hermon Coming down upon the mountains of Zion; For there the LORD commanded the blessing–life forever.” (Psalm 133:3)

Let us now turn our attention to our text. In this prayer of Arron the Lord gave three blessings to His covenant people. He blessed them with material prosperity, the spiritual blessing of knowledge and inspiration through His Word, and the blessing of God’s compassion for His people.

The first part of this prayer is a blessing for material prosperity. “The LORD bless you, and keep you.” When we think of material blessing we naturally think of wealth and possession. When we think of what wealth and possession we have it all depends on who we are, where we are and what our purpose is. The Lord has never failed to provide me with all that I need. My purpose is to glorify the name of my Heavenly Father and in that I have all that I need. I think the key to this wealth that I have is, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33) I have an abundance of what I need. I do not store up treasures as that would be accounted to loss. My treasure is safe in the hands of my Father. “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:20-21)

If we are good stewards of the blessings that the Lord has desired to bestow upon us then certainly He will keep us. If we seek God’s protection He certainly will protect that which He has given us. Another point is that the Scripture reads ‘keep you” and not it. We are to give to the needy out of the abundance that the Lord has blessed us. This does have an effect on how much we will receive. “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure–pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” (Luke 6:38)

The second blessing is the blessing of spiritual knowledge and inspiration. “The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you.” When we seek the Lord’s face we are seeking His instruction. Here the blessing is that the Lord causes His face to shine on us. The Word of God is often referred to as light. The light that illumines the hearts of men. His light reproofs us in the teaching of His Word that we know how we should live. “For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching is light; And reproofs for discipline are the way of life.” (Provers 6:23) When we are on the path of our life here, His Word is a guide that we might not stumble. “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

All knowledge and wisdom comes from God. The world has twisted God’s knowledge and wisdom to fit the popular mood of the day. Nothing is absolute truth except the Word of God. Therefore, our fear of an Al-mighty God is the beginning of all knowledge. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7)  Man has not come near to understanding the creation of God and yet he believes that his knowledge and wisdom is superior to God’s.

Through faith in Jesus we can know God. Most men cannot except faith as men cannot believe in what they cannot know through their senses. Still, they have no excuse for not knowing and believing in God. His creation is all around us, that very creation that is beyond their knowledge. “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20) Yet the very thing they refuse to believe on faith is the very doorway to faith. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17) By faith in His word we gain the knowledge to see the unseen things, the mysteries of God.

The third blessing is God’s compassion upon us. “The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.” As we read through the Old Testament and learn the history of God’s people the nation of Israel, we learn that they were a disobedient people. They constantly forsook their God and went their own way only to be punished and return to Him. When they worshiped the golden calf God was so angry that He wanted to destroy them. Moses offered his own life in exchange for theirs. God never did destroy His people, as He was a loving Father. No one has seen the face of God but Moses was allowed to see His glory. When God was giving Moses the Ten Commandments He testified to the motives of His love for His people. “The LORD descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of the LORD. Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth.” (Exodus 34:5-6)

His love for mankind is so deep that God’s plan was to send His Son to be the Lamb of God and be sacrificed for the sins of the world. Jesus came and through Him we could see the compassion of the God we adore. “Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36)

We have seen fathers sacrifice their lives to save their children. We have seen soldiers in battle take the bullet so a brother in arms could live to continue the good fight. We see people all over the world that sacrifice themselves for others whom they had compassion on. And, we have honored the memory of these people throughout history. Yet on a warm spring day outside of the City of Jerusalem a little respected innocent man was crucified before a jeering crowd of people. He died that men might be free from the wage of their sin. Free without cost because He paid the debt that we all have created. And this man, Jesus, offers to anyone who will accept His sacrifice for them forgiveness of their sin. Lay aside that few honor Him, lay aside that many hate Him, and care not that He loves them just as much as He loves the ones who have. The world cannot grasp the full meaning of love because it cannot accept the God of Love. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, June 5, 2016

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