People of God’s Blessing
In Numbers 6, God spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai. This passage takes place in the second of 40 years of wandering in the wilderness after the Israelite exodus from Egypt. God told Moses to take a census, gave him instructions on how each of the different Levite clans and families should serve, laws on purity, restitution of wrongs, and marital unfaithfulness, and he instructed Him on how people could be set apart by taking a Nazirite vow.
God concluded by instructing Moses to tell Aaron that he should bless the Israelites with these well-known words, known by many as the Aaronic benediction: “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”’ (Numbers 6:24-25).
Remember, the Israelites had already been disobedient and given in to idolatry through their construction of a golden calf, but God still wanted them to know that they were his people. He had chosen to be present with them, to provide, for them, to be gracious to them, and to give them peace in spite of their sin.
This benediction assured the Israelites that they were people of God’s blessing.
Psalm 67 sheds a new light on the Aaronic benediction. This Psalm extends Aaron’s blessing to show the purpose of that blessing. God blessed Israel not only for their benefit, but for the benefit of the whole world. “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us—so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations” (Psalm 67: 1-2).
The psalmist captures how it was not God’s intention to make Israel the only people of His blessing, but a people that He blessed in order that they might bring His blessing to the nations.
This has always been God’s intent for his chosen people, beginning with Abraham. (See Gen. 12:1-3)
This same dynamic carries over to us as the church today. We are chosen in Christ to receive God’s grace that we might extend His grace to the world. Participation in the mission of God is the purpose for which we were saved and it is in engaging God’s mission that we truly come alive.
“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us—so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations” (Psalm 67: 1-2). This Psalm is a helpful reminder to praise God for the blessing of his presence, provision, grace and peace, but not to stop there. God’s blessing has to move us to mission.
God has blessed us in Christ so that we might share his blessings with the world and that all the nations might come to know his salvation.
“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” (Numbers 6:24-25).