“The Blessings of His Name” Numbers 6:22-27
New Year’s Eve – 2016 / New Year’s Day 2017
We’ve all heard store clerks tell us, “Have a nice day” / “Happy Holidays” / “Merry Christmas” / “Happy New Year.” TV and radio personalities speak some of the same wishes into microphones and cameras – we hear them from so many different sources; but does it really MEAN anything to us? And more importantly, does it DO anything for us?
In bold contrast, carefully note what God tells us about the words of the Benediction: “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them, The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you; The LORD turn His face toward you and give you peace.’ So they will put My name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.” (Numbers 6:23-27)
In this way, God places His all-important NAME on us, His people. A comparison would be that of “putting our name” upon our check. An unsigned check is void and worthless until the owner‘s “name” has been placed upon it. Our lives, our years, our purpose in living are “void and worthless” until God places His Name upon us.
What will the days of 2017 hold for us? Will the days be productive or painful? Will the nights be restless or refreshing? Will there be health or sickness? Birth or death? Prosperity or poverty? Drawing closer to loved ones or farther apart?
Looking back at 2016, there were some real surprises, both good and bad. We live in a broken world: violent crimes; international instability; uncertain economy; earthquakes, snow storms and other natural disasters; homes and marriages broken because of infidelity, addictions, gambling, selfishness; heart attacks, strokes, accidents, cancer, many without warning.
Amidst all of this, God’s Blessing is that he KEEPS us. With Martin Luther (his explanation to the 1st article of the Apostles’ Creed) we confess: “I believe that God richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life… He defends me against all danger, and guards and protects me from all evil.” We seldom see how God works “behind the scenes” protecting, preserving, and warding off danger. We sometimes hear of those who missed the flight that tragically crashed – or come upon an accident that if they wouldn’t have been delayed, they would’ve been in the midst of it! “The LORD bless you and keep you.”
The 2nd part of the Benediction: “The LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. Amen.” How frightening it would be to have the Almighty Creator angry with us; what if God “frowned or scowled” at us? And yet this is exactly what our sins deserve! But because of our Savior, Jesus; whose NAME we receive in our baptism and through “the Blessing” of the Benediction. God treats us FAR BETTER than we deserve! “(God) does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our sins. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear (love and trust) Him.” (Psalm 103:10-11)
And the 3rd part of the Benediction: “The LORD look upon you with favor and give you peace.” When someone is talking to you; if you turn your back, refuse to look at them there is certainly NO BLESSING! But God “turns His face toward us;” we always get His full and undivided attention. What a Blessing to know that in these days of distractions and interruptions; God always “looks upon His children with favor;” we can talk to Him at any time and have His full attention! And He gives us “peace.”
“Peace” is the assurance that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) It is the “peace that passes all understanding, that keeps our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philemon 4:7)
The New Year, and each new day, brings its share of uncertainties. If we had to walk through a dangerous area late at night, we would feel much safer if an armed police officer walked at our side. As God has “placed His name upon us” (our baptism, His Word, the Absolution, the Lord’s Supper, the Benediction) we have far more protection than this!
Therefor with joy and thanksgiving we eagerly continue receiving “the Blessing” of God’s name upon us as the Lord continues to bless us in this New Year.
See you this next weekend as we receive God’s gracious blessings and live as God’s dear children during the week!