Let us pray: Dear Savior, on this glorious day we have come to honor You, the Father, and the Spirit of comfort and truth. Accept our hymns of praise, our thanksgiving, and our homage. But especially do we thank You for honoring us and blessing us with every good and perfect gift that we need. May we never tire of receiving that blessing either. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM THE BLESSED HOLY TRINITY!
TEXT: Numbers 6: 22-27
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
Contracts. Everyone eventually will sign a few. They may be a lease, a mortgage, a school loan, or buying a new car. Sometimes they will be business related, other times personal. If you become successful, perhaps they will be for you loaning money instead of just borrowing it! In any case, reading the fine print is vital in order to avoid heartache. And if someone asks you to sign a contract with words in it like: “may or could,” I hope you’ll do a double-take. Those are weasel words and they won’t protect you from being ripped off.
Once again this Sunday, a contract will be presented to you by none other than God. At the end of this service, God will announce to you His contract of blessing. Now, you might think it goes two-ways in that you must pledge repayment in order to receive His blessing. Not so! For in the benediction, His contract of blessing has already been signed, sealed, and delivered to you via the payment in blood by Jesus Christ. Since our lesson outlines this contract, let’s now examine the fine print by considering:
GOD’S WEEKLY CONTRACT WITH YOU
“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:’” Then His contract of blessing follows. Note that God’s contract is between the Israelites, standing for the Church today, and God Himself. It is to be uttered and announced to them by Aaron and his sons, standing for the entire holy ministry today. And it is one of blessing, not cursing. It is one where God speaks, gives, hands out, and imparts great and holy gifts to them with a huge smile on His face.
Here’s the first line: “The Lord bless you and keep you.” The Hebrew word used for the Lord is: “Yahweh” throughout this contract. That is the most specific and holiest name of God because God Himself uses that name to identify Himself in the O.T. It is none other than the Holy Trinity. And each Person of the Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost is Yahweh, True God. Here God wants to announce to all within earshot that He desires and actually will bless and keep them throughout the coming week. The Hebrew word for bless literally means: “to bend the knee.” It means to give one’s all to another in a positive uplifting manner. Here God promises to do just that to and for us. Yes, when the entire Trinity seeks to give their all to us, how can we not be kept safe during the upcoming days? The Trinity has worked together to conquer all our enemies including death. The Father planned it out. The Son carried it out on the cross. And the Spirit imparts faith in us thereby making salvation, forgiveness, and heaven our certain possession. If that’s not “keeping us” what is?
“The Lord (Yahweh) make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.” Notice that throughout this contract it never says: “God may do this, or perhaps He will accomplish it.” God simply proclaims it as fact with no strings attached. Note as well that it isn’t in a future tense. God’s blessing is never a future event but is always our ever-present reality. It is instantaneous because His love for us exists right now, this very millisecond.
Here God is spoken of as having a face. The face and its expressions tell it all. And the “all to tell” is that our God Who is “light and in whom there is no darkness at all” desires to beam His light upon our lives. In fact, in this contract He’s doing exactly that each Sunday! And to make sure we know with certainty that His expressive light is truly loving, He uses the words: “and be gracious to you.”
The N.T. word for grace means: God’s undeserved love for us in Christ. The O.T. word used here means: “loving kindness.” I like that. Love can be passive, but kindness is always active. Put the two together and you have God’s active love being showered upon us and showing itself in our lives throughout the week. This is made possible by Christ, suffering, dying on a cross, and rising to life in order to win our salvation and by sending the Spirit with the gift of faith to inscribe God’s loving kindness into our very souls.
Now comes the final line of the Trinitarian blessing: “The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” If someone won’t look at you, you know you’re in trouble. Here God says: “I’m actively turning My face directly at you and I am thereby directly giving you My peace.” Peace of soul, peace of conscience, peace with God—all are made possible by Christ reconciling us to the Almighty on the cross. Note well that God, Yahweh, the Trinity doesn’t use any weasel words of ambiguity like: might or maybe. He simply says: “I am doing it right now in your time and space. Right now my blessing is your reality!”
And then comes the last line summing up the blessed result of all this: “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”
When I was a little boy, sometimes other kids got to leave church early after the sermon. Apparently they had other commitments that day, but at least they came to church. I remember asking my mother: “Why can’t we do that?” Her reply was: “The service isn’t over until the benediction is said.” Well, now you know why she said that. Yes, the sermon is the high point of any worship service. Likewise the absolution and lessons, sharing and proclaiming the work of the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ, is vital. But the crowning cap on God’s Sunday morning work of honoring us with His presence and forgiveness, that cap is really the benediction. It’s not merely a reminder of something God will give us in the future. No, it gives and works blessings from Him right then and there. He binds Himself with it to lifting up our hearts and invigorating our lives. Yes, with the final blessing something special occurs.—God honors us in that instant and its benefits continue thereafter.—So, who would want to miss out on that? Who would not want to hear God Almighty speaking direct comfort to them? And since such comfort is the reality of the Gospel, through the benediction we once again receive both the name and the reality of being called a Christian, a direct member of the family of the Triune God.
Well, there it is. There is God’s Weekly Contract With You. It’s not about your love for Him, no, it’s all about His love for you in Christ. It’s a contract that not only promises but actually gives His eternal love to you in every aspect imaginable. So in the future, when you hear the benediction announced, smile and rejoice! It’s the only contract you’ll ever be a part of that will never demand repayment, or give you heartache; but instead it always provides pure joy. Amen