There is an awesome passage of scripture in the book of Numbers, chapter 6 and verses 22-26. God had just finished giving carefully detailed instructions for the Levites who were responsible for moving the tabernacle from place to place in the wilderness. Then He talked about how Israel should make restitution for their sins and guard against sinning again. (Apparently the Nazirite vow had some connection with overcoming sin. There was something about that process that gave spiritual strength.) When all the above details so necessary to an orderly life in the desert and to their spiritual growth had been given, the LORD spoke to Moses saying (KJV) “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.”
Now, all my life I have heard these words – usually in the King James version – sung by choirs or spoken from the pulpit as a benediction. It always warmed my heart. But had it been explained to me that these were the words of God Himself, with the request that the priests were to bestow this blessing upon the “children of Israel” it would have meant even more.
“The Lord bless thee and keep thee.” What does this tell us about God? He wanted Israel to know that it is THE LORD Who blesses us AND keeps us. As modern day spiritual Israel, soon to be taken to heaven, how comforting to KNOW that He “keeps” us. Ps. 91 says that He keeps us from dashing our foot against a stone. I Chron 16:9 says that “the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him.” God wants us to peacefully rely on the strength of His promise to be alert to help those whose hearts are “perfect toward Him!”
“The Lord make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee.” Does God want us to KNOW that He does respond to our love for Him? There are times that I sense it strongly – that His face is shining on me. Although I am still far from the person I want to be, it gives me courage to not give up the fight. Perhaps I should take a Nazirite vow to further strengthen my resolve. You know, there are people who debate that our behaviour does not affect God. They say His universal principles operate on their own and we have no influence in the cosmic battles going on in and around us. According to these texts God is very much in tune with what’s happening in our lives. His “gracious-ness” is something I treasure, for when I slip and fall, he takes into consideration my “frame” and repeatedly says “go and sin no more.” Jesus took 7 times to heal Mary Magdalene of her demons and when the disciples asked how many times they should forgive someone, He gave them an answer that sounded like there was no cap on that number! Praise God!
With His face shining on me and with His gracious mercy and forgiveness, victory will be mine! – permanantly – perhaps very soon.
Sprinkled all through the Psalms David talks about the face of God shining on us. I’m so glad David wrote that way because it continues to emphasize that God showers His love on us when our “connection” is good with Him. He DOES respond to our behaviour – and I suspect all heaven does. Awesome God! Our part is just to spend time in His Word and in His presence so that God can shower His goodness on us.
“The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee and give thee peace.” God wanted Israel to know that He does consider them in their earthly existence and HE GIVES THEM PEACE. What a gift! In this complex world, peace is a precious commodity! When God looks on us and sees our need, He gives us what we need: peace within the beauty of His love for us.
In my ever-growing relationship with God, the reality of His involvement in my life becomes ever more palpable. Without His Word this kind of friendship with God would be impossible. Yes, we can learn about Him through nature. But it is in the Word that elements of His personal relationship with us come into focus and make each day sweeter. “The longer I serve Him, the sweeter He grows” says the song which you can listen to on my music page of this website. It is sung by my son Chris and I am blessed every time I listen to it.
May God bless you on this Sabbath day, and every day. Please continue to pray for those who come to this website, that there will be souls in the kingdom because of their time spent in the Word of God. Do go to www.thisislifeeternal.org and download the Bible reading calendar. God bless and keep you!