Some words have more power than others to touch us our hearts. “I love you grandpa,” not just from a young child but a grownup granddaughter or grandson. “I forgive you,” from someone we have hurt badly. “I’ll love you forever and ever,” from a spouse of 50 years.
The Bible is full of powerful words, life-changing verses, comforting thoughts, soaring phrases, and liberating concepts. “The Lord is my shepherd.” “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” “Come unto me.” “You must be born again.” “There is therefore now no condemnation.” “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God.”
Tucked into an obscure chapter in Numbers we find a wonderful benediction. “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give peace”(Numbers 6:24-26). These words were to be used by the priests of Israel to bless the people.
The inimitable commentator Matthew Henry, from whom I gathered much that follows, makes application to our lives today. First, he urges us to individually prepare ourselves to receive God’s blessing. Without some heart preparation we may not be able to recognize God’s blessing nor enjoy to the fullest the happiness God wishes for each of us.
The three-fold repetition of the name, LORD, or JEHOVAH—each of which—in the original, has a different accent, reflects a mystery solved only by the New Testament. This directs us to the blessing; “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God [the Father, KJV] and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all”(2 Cor. 13:14). Each of the persons of the godhead is LORD, and each is bent on blessing us.
Just think, all the resources of the triune God are focused on blessing us. And yet we must not forget that we live in a fallen world where bad things happen. Only Jehovah can wrest good from bad.
These are powerful promises—not just words—promises of God acting for our actual blessing. While we may speak good words to one another and mean well, we don’t have the resources of heaven to effectually change things for each other. God’s words, however, express His intentional actions toward us. The fruits of God’s favor mean protection from evil through His keeping power; pardon for our sins through His grace and mercy; and peace through His indwelling Holy Spirit.
This benediction also promises that the Lord’s face will shine upon us and his countenance will be turned toward us. As the sun shines on the earth to warm and renew it, so the Lord causes us to know that he loves us. He smiles on us as a Father smiles upon his child. Such knowledge puts gladness into our hearts.
May 2015 be a year full of the blessings of God.