Today, we will be looking at the blessing of God as seen in the blessing pronounced by the Aaronic priesthood, found in Numbers 6:23–27, upon the people of God in the Old Testament. It was a national blessing – one that was tied into a covenant that the LORD made with the nation Israel, which included both blessings and curses– blessings for covenant loyalty, and curses for covenant disloyalty. At its heart, this covenant arrangement was more than a political agreement between a Sovereign and His subjects. It was relational, and it was based upon mutual love and respect. It was somewhat more like a domestic arrangement between a husband and a wife, and a parent and child. God, in loyal love, like a husband, who pledged to protect, provide for, and cherish his bride. He also was like a father to his children, in nurturing, teaching, and equipping them for life. Faithful love is not a theme that was first introduced by Jesus in the New Testament. God’s love was expressed in many Old Testament passages and Israel was to love the LORD their God with all their heart, soul, and might.
In love, God would reward His people and many of those benefits were material and temporal (see Deuteronomy 28) Think about that! God would bless his people with material objects. True piety is not ascetic and otherworldly but rejoices in and thanks God for His good gifts, including earthy good gifts, enjoying them, and using them for others. It was this wholesome view that was so much a part of the early New England work-ethic. Power and wealth, the fruit of their labors, were viewed as being God-given, and were to be enjoyed and used to serve others. Unfortunately, power and wealth, even in so called Christian nations, can be misused, and in love, like a good father, God disciplines wayward nations who forget God and replace Him with other lovers.
Our puritan and pilgrim forefathers knew all about this and sought to create a society, the seedbed of our nation, based upon this Old Testament model. I cannot help but think that God’s blessing upon our nation was the result of the earnest labors and prayers of these forefather’s.
Today we will examine a benediction that I pronounce upon our gathered church each week at the close of our worship. It is found in Numbers 6:24–26.
May the LORD bless thee and keep thee.
May the LORD make His face shine upon thee and be gracious to thee
May the LORD lift up His countenance upon thee and give thee peace. Amen