My pastor is taking us through the book of Numbers in the Bible. I know…, right…? Numbers…
I thought the same thing when he told us which book would be next after we finished Leviticus—a great book exalting His holiness and communicating His call for us to also be holy. To my pastor’s credit, he jokingly acknowledged that the book of Numbers isn’t typically considered one of the most exciting books of the Bible.
I know I’ve read through the book (ok, skimmed…) at one time or another, but it’s not a book I’ve ever given any time to deep study as a whole. I recently did go through parts of it while doing a study on the tabernacle, and I learned a few amazing things from Numbers in that study which I had never known. With the exception of the pieces I studied, I think my overall impression of Numbers was that it was…, dare I say it? …boring?
I no longer think that way about the book. We’re just a few chapters into it, and, as we wrap up one week’s lesson, I can hardly wait until next week’s lesson gets here.
I want to take you to one section of Numbers and just share a few verses with you. Chances are, it’s a passage you’ve probably heard at one time or another…in a church at the end of a service, at the end of a wedding, perhaps even at a funeral.
Numbers 6:24-26 says,
“The LORD bless you and keep you;
The LORD make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.”
Sound familiar? To me, too!
I grew up in a very small town in central Pennsylvania. My parents attended a Presbyterian church there, so I did, too. Each Sunday at the close of the service, our pastor—clothed in a rustic grayish-white robe tied with a bold cord—would raise his hands, stand before us and recite these words before walking down the steps from the chancel, down the aisle of the church and out to the lobby to greet each church member before they made their way home.
I like familiarity, so when my current pastor read these words, memories of church as a child just flooded back. I could see my childhood pastor with his salt-and-pepper beard wearing that robe saying these words to us. He said them every week, and it became a ritual I expected to hear.
Perhaps, some time in the future, we can dig into the deepest of meanings of this blessing, but, for now, I just want to share a few things with you based upon my initial feelings on the surface of this passage… no study, no word origins, no commentary…just how it speaks to me and quickly captures my thoughts as I read it without studying the depth of it yet…
First, this blessing is FROM GOD and it was given by the LORD to Moses for Moses to share with Aaron and his sons to bless the Israelites throughout the generations to come.
“The LORD bless you and keep you”: Remember, the LORD spoke these words, so when the words were to be conveyed to His people, the words were spoken through the priests, but they were directly from God. This verse tells me He is saying He is here to walk with me, to kneel beside me to serve me, and to be with me as I walk with Him and serve Him.
“The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you;”: This verse tells me that HE has every intention of illuminating my life with His gracious and blessed presence, walking with me as I walk, and offering me his grace-filled forgiveness.
“The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.”: This verse tells me that not only is He going to do everything he’s already said he’s going to do in the previous two verses, but He’s going to watch me, give me his personal attention and—through whatever I have to go through—He’s going to give me His peace with it.
What awes me about our God, is how He plants seeds in our lives and then
tends to those seeds,
waters those seeds,
nurtures those seeds,
breathes life into those seeds and
grows those seeds.
He then watches those seeds sprout, helps them to bear fruit and takes care of every detail necessary for the seeds to reproduce in abundance for the future.
YOU are that seed! I am that seed!
Despite times of drought, poor soil conditions, hibernation and a failure to produce on our part, He still ALWAYS does His part for those who love Him. He doesn’t let His children go despite our foolish efforts or stubbornness in relation to our obedience to Him. And, when we do mess up or when He does allow us to be tested through trials, He promises us over and over again in His Word that our good and His glory are capable of coming from all of it.
It’s no coincidence I am sitting in a church in the todays studying these words, recalling times from the years-ago yesterdays when the words were planted into me, and walking through a life where His promises and His blessings are carrying me through the tumultuous trials, yet still revealing His amazing grace through it all.
There are no coincidences. I’m seeing another seed sprouting from His Word. Praise be to Him!