Numbers Sermon chapter 6:22-27 “The Lord Bless You” Nov. 4, 2012
22 The LORD said to Moses, 23 “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: 24 “ ‘ “The LORD bless you and keep you;
25 the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
26 the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace. ” ’
27 “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”
“God bless you.” This phrase can be very trivialized, such as a response when someone sneezes.
Or how about the word “Benediction?” For you it may signal the end of a church service, the parting words of a pastor with lifted hands sending forth the congregation in the grace and love of Jesus Christ. The word comes from two Latin words meaning literally “good speaking” and is most often translated “blessing.” Benediction is the act or pronouncement of divine blessing upon another person. But what’s behind all that?
I. The Lord loves to bless you.
A. The Lord is the source of all blessings to his people.
Three times in this passage it is stressed: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.” And notice in verse 27 what God says again: “So they shall put My name on the sons of Israel…” and then the emphatic “I then will bless them.”
Five times in this short passage the Lord makes it amply clear that He and He alone is the one who is capable of blessing His people. The Lord is the great and ultimate giver; He alone blesses. He alone is the generous giver. Though Aaron and then the priests proclaimed the blessing, the Lord alone could bestow it.
Is this how you view the Lord? Do you go to Him alone for your blessings? How are you tempted to get blessed through your own performance or by “luck” [think about how people use “luck” instead of “being blessed- by God,” and the difference that makes.
B. The Lord has always loves to bless His people.
The blessing of God upon His people is a central theme from Genesis to Revelation, climaxing in all that His Son, Jesus Christ, is for us.
Gen. 1:22 God blessed the living creatures: “Be fruitful and increase in number”
Gen. 1:28 God blessed the man and the woman: “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Gen. 2:3 God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
Gen. 12:2-3 God blessed you and me in Abram: “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
Rev. 19:9; 22:7 9 Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ ” 7 “Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.”
It is crucial for us to understand that God’s basic attitude toward us is that He wants to bless us.
In Christ, He is for us, not against us; He loves to smile at us, not frown at us!
But though God always desires to bless us richly, sometimes we are not willing to accept His blessings. That tension is evident in Numbers. Sinful, rebellious, and idolatrous people have a difficult time receiving and running with God’s blessings. But as God will fill the whole earth with His glory, His blessings will not be given out in vain; they will achieve their desired purpose in the end.
II. The Lord loves to bless you with the best blessings.
- A. The Lord loves to bless you with the best blessings, ever deepening and expanding.
Even the structure of this blessing emphasize God’s multi-layered and ever-deepening and expanding blessings to us:
The three Hebrew lines contain 3, 5 and 7 words;
There are 12, 14, and 16 Hebrew syllables in the three lines;
There are 15, 20, and 25 consonants in the three lines.
This gradual escalation conveys in a literary fashion the sense of God’s multiplying and expanding gifts to us. The Lord’s blessings are literally expanding and compounding as they go on from the first to the second to that third blessing.
So for us, in Christ, the initial blessing of knowing Jesus as Lord and savior expands to a growing awareness of all His mercies to us, which are compounded and deepened through life’s experiences, as we taste more and more of His blessings to us. Have you found that to be true?
B. The Lord loves to bless you with the best blessings by giving you what you really need
You might have expected God to have commanded Aaron to lead in an intercessory prayer before the children of Israel left on the journey, requesting God to supply their needs. And that would have been a perfectly legitimate thing to do; but here, before God’s people’s needs are ever laid forth, God precedes those needs with blessing. Rather than vocalizing what the people wanted, this benediction expounds what God is giving to them.
Rather than God’s people asking for the blessings which they thought they needed, here God
Himself tells us how He is going to bless us… and His blessings are far superior!
Illustration: a child may ask for lots of cheap trinkets for her birthday, but a good mother knows what she really needs, and gives it to her instead. So what did the Lord want to bless His people with?
What do these blessings refer to?
“The LORD bless you (general blessings: land, children, health, etc.)
and keep you; (Our omnipotent defender; our protection and safety; Ps. 121:7-8)
25 the LORD make his face shine upon you (A shining face indicated supreme pleasure)
and be gracious to you; (He is gracious and compassionate to us in our weakness)
26 the LORD turn his face toward you (Think of the opposite: God turning his face away from
you! Instead, He looks toward us; “May He pay attention to you and your needs.”)
and give you peace. (His Shalom/ wholeness)
27 “So they will put my name on the Israelites, (His ownership of us ensures His constant care)
and I will bless them.”
Note: although the framework of these blessing is in the plural, the words themselves are in the singular: The Lord bless you (each individual); so these are personal in nature.
Let us remember: The Lord always blesses you with what is best for you, at the right time.
III. The Lord loves to bless you with the best blessings in Jesus Christ.
- A. The Lord loves to bless you best in Jesus Christ, as the pinnacle of His richest blessings.
When Jesus walked this earth, He blessed His disciples from the beginning to the end:
He blessed them from speaking the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-12) to blessing His disciples as He was ascending into heaven (Lk. 24:50-51).
John 1:16 “From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.”
Romans 15:29 “….I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ.”
Gal 3:14 “He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.”
Eph. 1:3 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”
Every blessing we need or want is ultimately found in the person and ministry of Christ.
B. The Lord loves to bless you best of all in the gospel of Jesus Christ, as you trust Him to bless you.
I would suggest, in light of all the grumbling and unbelief in the book of Numbers, that if the Israelites had understood just that one truth – about His blessing them – it would have totally changed the story of the book.
So let’s not imitate the Israelites here. The story of our lives would be different if we understood that God is the only one who gives the only blessing worth having. There is nothing worth having that He withholds from us. And everything that we need, He gives.
(2 Peter 1:3 “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness”
And if we really believed that the Lord loves to bless us, then how dramatically different our lives would be. We go through life so often thinking that our satisfaction will come from this pleasure, from this job, from these possessions, from people liking us, and so forth. We are running around constantly trying to stuff our hearts full of life and satisfaction somewhere else other than from the blessing of Almighty God, and if we could simply understand that God is the giver, He is the source, He is the author of the only blessing worth having, and so only God can fill us up, it would dramatically change our lives. The Lord blesses and no one else can, and no one else can undo the Lord’s blessing. No one can take the Lord’s blessing off of His people.
And the greatest way to see that truth is to consider the meaning of the Lord’s Supper.