Friday, January 30, 2004

The Priestly Blessing

I read this last night. I have heard it many times in church before but found it uniquely refreshing this time for some reason.

"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 you peace." Numbers 6:24-26

My study bible noted last night that verse 24 in the Hebrew is 3 words, verse 25 is 5 words and verse 26 is 7 words. What beautiful symmetry. It's also interesting to me that God's face is mentioned twice. This anthropomorphic language creates such amazing imagery for me. It's as if "The Lord bless you and keep you" is the thesis statement and the next two verses flesh out just how that 'blessing' and 'keeping' happens. It seems that the blessing comes when God's face shines upon me and when His face turns toward me. It also seems that this "keeping" of God happens by the graciousness and the peace of God. His grace and peace "keep" me. Its funny to think about how Paul starts most of his letters to the New Testament churches by saying "Grace and Peace" to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. A greeting of Grace for the Gentiles in the audience and a greeting of peace for the Jews in the audience.

What is it for God to turn His face toward me and shine His face upon me? It seems to be an act of blessing just for God to turn toward me and to smile. It reminds me of Jesus as a young boy in the Temple, "And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men." Luke 2:52. And also at his baptism, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." Matthew 3:17. That is what I want to be. I long to be in the favor of God. I long for my father to turn and smile at me. And even in the smile comes blessing. In His smile comes comfort and security. His smile is his favor. His favor radiates in me and allows me to grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with men. That is where I want to be found. I want to be found in the gaze and smile of my Father. I want to be "kept" and "blessed". I want to be able to "keep" and "bless" others.

Father, what makes you smile? What captures your gaze and prompts you to grin? I want to be there. Father, I long for your face to turn towards me and to shine upon me. I long to grow in wisdom and stature and to grow in your favor. God, I need your grace and peace. More than that, I am fully dependent on your grace and peace. May I be a child you can smile at.


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