Monday, February 4, 2019

God In the Torah #4: The Blessing of God Num 6:22-27

God In the Torah #4: The Blessing of God

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Numbers 6:22-27
 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,  Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them,  The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:  The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:  The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.  And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them.

Joke: A young pastor agreed to perform the funeral of an indigent transient who had no family or friends. The man was to be the first person buried in the new potter's field deep in the back country. As misfortune would have it, the pastor got lost and drove around until finally, more than an hour late, the pastor spotted a backhoe and crew in the middle of a field. The hearse was nowhere to be seen, the county officials were gone, but he drove up to the site and peering into the grave. He realized how late he really was because they had already put the concrete vault lid in place, capping the grave.

Without delay the pastor went into his funeral service, saying prayers and giving the backhoe crew an inspired talk about the fragility of life and the power of the resurrection and giving them a blessing for the unrecognized but important work they do.

When the pastor was driving away, one of the workers turned to the other and said, "That's the strangest thing I've seen in 20 years of installing septic tanks."

The Israelites were given a form of blessing that along with the other rites and rituals was to be performed by the High Priest.

The High Priest according to the Jewish writers would stand upon a hill or a rise, raise his hands, spread his fingers and lift his voice with the blessing of God. – Gill

Within the words of the blessing there are three times that the name of Jehovah is called out.

Matthew Henry said, The name Jehovah is three times repeated. The Jews think there is some mystery; and we know what it is, the New Testament having explained it. There we are directed to expect the blessing from the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of the Father, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, each of which Persons is Jehovah, and yet they are not three Lords, but one Lord. -MHCC

Jamieson, Fawcett and Brown state, “This passage records the solemn benediction which God appointed for dismissing the people at the close of the daily service. The repetition of the name "Lord" or "Jehovah" three times, expresses the great mystery of the Godhead—three persons, and yet one God. The expressions in the separate clauses correspond to the respective offices of the Father, to "bless and keep us"; of the Son, to be "gracious to us"; and of the Holy Ghost, to "give us peace." And because the benediction, though pronounced by the lips of a fellow man, derived its virtue, not from the priest but from God, the encouraging assurance was added, "I the Lord will bless them." – JFB

This is a beautiful blessing and I want us today to plumb its depths, to learn of God through his blessing upon His people. To listen and learn not just what it is being said but also the truth of the words and the promise they give to all those who know God.

Blessed In His Protection Numbers 6:24

 The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:

Jehovah bless thee and keep thee
Always notice when the letters of the word LORD are all capitalized for it means Jehovah’s personal name. I have been sneaking in a lot of theology in this series so let me sneak some in here. This word for the name of God is called the Tetragrammaton, which means four letters. These for YHVH. (tetragrammaton was not was in my spell checker as you can imagine.) It stands as a symbol for the personal name of God which the ancient Jews would not pronounce and even when writing it down in scripture the vowels were removed to make it unprounceable. The actual pronunciation of the word has been lost. Over time the vowels form the world for Lord (Adonai) were used to make the pronounceable and we say it Jehovah, yehovah or Yahweh today.

We would read Yehovah Adonia bless thee and keep thee.
This first of three uses of God’s personal name would convey His power and protection is given to his people.

His people, who were in the midst of the wilderness, surrounded by desert and their enemies needed the needed to believe they had the protection of God. Everything they had known was gone, everything they now were experiencing was alien, strange and dangerous, everything they would face in the future was uncertain.

Except one thing, they could be certain that they would have the blessing of Jehovah. When they needed something to cling to, something to believe in, someone to protect them. They would remember they had been given the blessing of God.

Still Needing God’s Protection

Are we in any less need of God’s protection today?
I think we can relate, as God’s people today, with God’s people then. Look where we are in relationship to what is around us.

Are we in friendly territory, with well wishers on every side in our society and nation today? No, today we also stand in the midst of enemies not friends. We better realize that we are fighting daily against ignorance, apathy and sinfulness. We are being attacked by hatred, lies, and sometimes outright violence.

Whether we realize it or not every day brings more attacks to our community, to our church, our families and our selves. Beliefs, traditions and practices we though were solid ground under our feet are now becoming dust in the wind. The future may seem dark and uninviting. It may seem that we don’t know where we are and we’re scared o find out where we are going as a society.
We truly need to believe in God’s blessing of protection.

Scripture: John 17:15-23
 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.  As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.  And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.  Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.  And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:  I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
This prayer is a blessing from our High Priest Jesus Christ given to those disciples left behind when he would ascend back to His throne in Heaven.
Look at what it promises.  I need to believe that I am in this world but not of this world. I need to know that by the word of Jesus Christ I have been sanctified, set aside, chosen for a special purpose, by truth. I need to exult in the reality of the glory of God which has been given to me at all times and in all circumstances.  

Scripture: John 10:27-29
 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:  And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.  My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.
This is the protection of God, given to us not only in a promise but also in a challenge. Jesus says, “No man is able to pluck them out of my father’s hands.” No man! I need to hear that, I need to believe that and I need act in that belief. I am a child of God, purchased by his shed bled, kept by his promise and protected from all by the covering of His own hand!
Illustration: Billy Yates, unable to believe the promise.
Billy was a former drug addict and now present member of a cultic charismatic Church run by Robert Tilton. Billy couldn’t believe in eternal security so one day talking to him I read him this passage and then I asked him. Do you believe what Jesus said? Sure, but that doesn’t mean I can’t jump out of God’s hands myself. Really, I asked in other words you are telling me, you can do what Jesus says no man can do. In other words you think you are greater than God?
It is apparent that Billy didn’t really believe the promises of God about eternal security but how many of us are just as guilty of refusing to believe in God’s blessing of protection in our life every single day?

Blessed In His Revelation Numbers 6:25

25  The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:

His Face to Shine

This is the second time the name of God is used to bless His people.
There is a Hebrew saying, “When a man’s face shines it is filled with happiness and joy.”
This blessing states that God’s face, as it looks toward Israel, will be filled with happiness and joy. This is a happiness that flows from the face of God to the hearts of His people. It is an outward expression of that inward grace that will be given to them. It is a revealing of God’s true heart of love and grace toward the Israelites people he had brought and kept by power and by promise since the covenant with Abraham.

Scripture: Psalm 80:1-7
Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth.  Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh stir up thy strength, and come and save us.  Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.  O LORD God of hosts, how long wilt thou be angry against the prayer of thy people?  Thou feedest them with the bread of tears; and givest them tears to drink in great measure.  Thou makest us a strife unto our neighbours: and our enemies laugh among themselves.  Turn us again, O God of hosts, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.

His Face Is Seen In His Son

Do we need to see the face of God? Do we need to see his joy toward us? Do we need to see his grace? Then we need to see Jesus Christ. It is not the glory of Mt. Sinai that we need to see God’s face it is the sacrifice of Mt. Calvary so that we might see the God’s love through His Son.

Illustration: John 14:8-11
Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.  Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?  Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.  Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.

It is in Jesus that the grace and love of God is revealed. It is in a relationship with Him that I know God. When I come to know Jesus, I see the face of God shining upon me.

 Blessed In His Peace Numbers 6:26

The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.

 His countenance, His peace.

This third evocation of God’s name is used in the blessing of God’s presence in the midst of His people.

When the Hebrew Children were wandering for those 40 years in the wilderness whereever they might be they could look above the tabernacle where they would see the Shekinah Glory of God, a cloud by day and a flame by night and they would know that God was with them.
In that knowledge of the countenance, the presence of God, they would have peace. If God was there with them what had they to fear?

Centuries later when the God’s nation had forsaken him and been driven into captivity, they were given a promise and an assurance that their God had not abandoned them. The old Covenant of the law had failed because it depended up them but God had a new plan, a new covenant. It was first given by God’s prophets during the exile in Babylon

Jeremiah 31:31-34
 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:  …  But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.  And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

Ezekiel 36:27
 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

Joel 2:28
 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:  And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
This future promise of God’s Spirit being with them, meant God would not forget or forsake His own. That promise began to be fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost, 50 days after Jesus was crucified and resurrected.

His presence in the Holy Spirit.

Scripture: Acts 2:1-4
 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.  And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
I believe this was the same Shekinah Glory that once filled the sky over the tabernacle, the same Shekinah Glory that filled the Temple and now filled God’s new house of witness, the church. But there is a difference, for now it would fill the life of every individual believer, we as believers were the new tabernacle for the presence of God in the person of the Holy Spirit to dwell in.
Jesus had promised the gift of the Holy Spirit the night before He was taken and crucified

John 14:16-17
 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;  Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
Now on the Day of Pentecost, that promise was fulfilled. The Jewish people of Jesus time looked for this as a confirmation of the coming of the Messiah, the New Covenant written in the heart of God’s people and the gift of His Spirit to be with them.
Just as God gave a sign, a proof, of his presence to the Israelites in the Shekinah Glory, He has also given a proof of His presence to us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Just as the blessing in Numbers 6:26 states, The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. It is that presence that will give us peace.

Scripture: Romans 8:14-16
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

 This is undeniable, unassailable, peace, to know, through the presence of God’s Holy Spirit, that we are His children. That no matter what may happen, that bond of adoption can never be broken. We are His, by the blood of Christ and by bond of promise and we have peace.
The Holy Spirit stands as the proof of that blessing. With such a witness nothing can take away the blessing that we have through God every single day of our life, from now until eternity begins.

Illustration: Prayer for a beet.

Joke: A man sat down to a very small dinner. In fact upon his plate was only one thing a very a small beet. Some might wonder whow you can say be thankful to God when there is so little to be thankful for but not this man. He bowed his head and prayed, “Dear Lord… that beets all. Amen.”
And what we have in the blessings of God, really does Beat All!


His Name On His Children

The last part of the blessing
Numbers 6: 27 And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them.
In this part of the blessing His name was put upon them and in that name they were completely blessed.

I wonder, if we fully realize this final blessing of God in our lives today?

Do we understand that we have His name upon us? We are we his children. We have a blood bought relationship with the Creator and Sustainer of all, through His Son Jesus Christ.

I also wonder if we understand that there is no blessing outside of that relationship.
No matter how many times this blessing was read to the people in Old Testament times, they would not be blessed unless they belonged to the nation of Israel. No matter what you hear this morning about the blessings and protection of God, you cannot be experience it if you are outside of God’s family.

And on the other side of that, if we are members of that family, then we should do more to enjoy, cherish and live in the power of that blessing of God. Too often we see nothing but the dangers of the wilderness around us but what we need to do is turn and see the glory of our God right here with us.

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