Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Might of a Heavenly Blessing

“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.”

~Numbers 6:24-26 (NIV).

We will have often heard this or read this blessing. It’s one of the very basic fundaments of the Christian faith, on loan some might say from the Jewish faith, though surety of which—the bond of grace—through the Messiah, Jesus. It’s ours!

We have a certain affinity in hearing, reading and saying these words. They do bring us comfort; they do bring us peace; and, they do bring us the Presence of the living Lord God, and assuredly to the blessings of the Lord (Numbers 6:27).

Breaking It Down:

“The Lord bless you (a)

and keep you; (b)

the Lord make his face shine upon you (a)

and be gracious to you; (b)

the Lord turn his face toward you (a)

and give you peace.” (b)

~Numbers 6:24-26 (NIV [with A & B lines marked]).

Perhaps one way of looking at this holy Priestly Blessing is via the ‘A’ and ‘B’ lines of each verse as shown above. The A line implies something that the Lord is actively doing for us and the B line suggests, in the first verse, a response possibly, as well as a promise, and in the second and third verses, the effect of the initial and succeeding blessings; the experience of grace and peace—two qualities Paul showered on his churches through his salutary greetings in many of his letters.

Let’s dig some way deeper into those blessed B lines:

1. The Lord... Keep You

Really inherent in our faith is the object of faithfulness. Being ‘kept’ by God is very much about staying ‘in’ the ways and decrees of God. Being kept can also be seen as both a response on our parts to accede to ‘being kept,’ and a promise—that God will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5).

2. The Lord... Be Gracious to You

When someone’s face shines toward us we know we have their favour. We have won them over and they’re happy with us whether it is through something we’ve done or via some other reason. For this reason we feel the graciousness of that person; which of us doesn’t already know the grace of God through Jesus our Lord?

3. The Lord... Give You Peace

Peace is the result of living a righteous life; and righteousness flows from faith and vice versa. Those living the faith will know a peace which transcends understanding. Now peace in this most godly sense is far above that which we’d feel whenever conflict is absent.

We can expect a proper sense of the Hebraic shalom: the “quietness of heart within us, spiritual health and spiritual prosperity, adequacy for the demands of life, and the kind of spiritual well-being that rises above circumstances.”[1]

This is the quintessence of the blessing of the Lord.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

[1] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Biblical Exposition Commentary – Old Testament: Pentateuch (Colorado Springs, Colorado: Cook Communications Ministries, 2001), p. 321.


Nathan Johnson said...

Brilliant Steve! Wonderfully written, short, succinct and to the point. It brought me a bit of joy before I retire for the night.

And having a new respect for the Hebrew word "Shalom," I wish you shalom in all things.


S. J. Wickham said...

Thanks Nathan - nice also to hear from you every now and then. It's good to pray for each other's writing, and God's good and generous hand in developing us.
God bless you and the family!