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“The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to 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.”
Nu. 6:24-27, NIV
This is the prayer that the priests in the Old Testament were to pray over the people of Israel. It is a prayer of blessing that applies to God's people of all times.
The Lord bless you - The first thing we see is that blessing comes from the Lord. We do not ultimately have the power to bless, although being blessed by the Lord we can pass on the blessing to others. Everything good comes from God, and so we can only be channels not originators.
We tend to think of blessing in terms of finance. That is not what real blessing is. It envelopes the entire person. A blessed person is spiritually healthy first of all, knowing Jesus and developing a love relationship with Him. And then blessing overflows into all areas of life. We dwarf our thinking when we limit it to only one physical area. A person who knows God IS blessed whether there is outward physical evidence to that fact or not.
This prayer begins with the desire to have God pour out of Himself in every area of the person's life, beginning with the most important part - spiritual life and wrapping the entire person in the arms of Jesus.
and keep you; - Of course, this [and the rest of the prayer] is a part of God's blessing. God's protection is especially asked for. Again, we tend to think in physical terms first, but we should think of spiritual terms. Satan lays his traps, the enemy of our souls strings his bow, but for the mercy and protection of the blood of Christ we would be brought down in spiritual ruin. But God is on watch. We ask and seek His protection, the covering of His wings. We know on our own we are defenseless targets. As we dwell under the blessing of God, we do not fear the attacks of the enemy, but neither do we take God's watchful care for granted. Even Jesus in the Lord's Prayer said, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."
the Lord make his face shine on you - God is delighted with His people. Just like a father finds joy in his children's activities, so Jesus enjoys us. His face is beaming with pleasure - unless we are deliberately walking in sin. It can be a tough concept to realize that God actually takes pleasure in us. He wants to be with us. We live under God's joyous approval. It's time to sing, dance and celebrate in His presence.
and be gracious to you; - Grace is God's enabling power to do what He wants us to do. The grace of God is the blessing of God to live a successful life in the eyes of God. Someone has said, "The Christian life is not difficult, it is impossible." They are right - without the grace of God. We need God's grace flowing through our lives. And it is His desire to do just that. He is gracious. He never asks us to do anything that he does not give us the power to do. In the command is the grace to obey and perform.
the Lord turn his face toward you - This is a special moment. It is like standing in a crowd and suddenly you catch the eye of someone you love and they return your love. It is as if you are the only person in the world. Here God looks at us…and smiles. More than smiles, He beams with joy at seeing us. Our hearts warm knowing that God is looking on us with pleasure, that we have his attention. He is delighted that we are there.
and give you peace. - Peace is not the absence of problems and difficulties, but a calmness and trust in God in the midst of all that life can throw at us. We can live in the peace of God at all times. We do not have to be shaken and tossed. In the storm that tossed the boat and threatened to sink it, leaving seasoned fisherman scared for their lives, Jesus was sleeping. He wasn't worried. God was still in control. We, too, can experience the peace of God.
So they will put my name on the Israelites, - It is a wonderful thing to have the Name of God put on us. The amazing thing is the Jesus wants to be identified with us! We are linked to the name of God: Christians. To have a person's name is to have relationship with that person and to operate in their authority. If I come in the name of the Prime Minister, then I come in all his authority and power. We have the privilege and responsibility of coming in the Name of the Creator of the Universe, the Almighty God. Such a relationship should not be abused, but neither should we hang our heads as if we were ashamed. The Name of God is the possession of His people - who in the New Testament era are called Christians.
and I will bless them. - When God has decreed blessing, no person, no demon, not even satan himself can overthrow it. God will bless His people. There is only one thing that can divert the blessing of God. Balaam taught the secret to Balak to earn his money when he could not curse Israel because the blessing of God was protecting them. The one thing that can interfere with the blessing of God to His people, is when His people reject His righteousness and engage in willful sin.