Whenever I picture Jesus, it’s never raining. It may be strange that I’m aware of that, but when I visualize Jesus, it’s always sunny, underscored by a clear blue sky and dotted with a few scattered, small cumulus clouds.
And the sunniest of God-moments is when I think of the Numbers 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 6:24-26, NIV)
This was the first unexpected Old Testament gem that I ever ran across. I was trudging my way through Numbers for the very first time as a new Christian. There is a lot of action in Genesis and Exodus, which slows down considerably in Leviticus. As I read through the beginning of Numbers, I started to grow weary because the text is difficult. When I came across these verses in Numbers, I read them four or five times. So beautiful! So amazing! It was the Numbers benediction that gave me the idea for the Old Testament gem series.
Let’s talk about what was going on in Numbers before these verses. Chapter six is primarily about instructions for the Nazarite vow (think Samson). This is a voluntary vow to abstain from alcohol, vinegar made from wine or beer, grape juice, fresh grapes, and raisins. The man or woman taking this vow also could not cut their hair or go near a dead body.
After this discourse, the Lord speaks to Moses to pass on a message to Aaron and his sons about how to bless the Israelites. It is here that God hides this Old Testament gem. Verse 24 discusses the blessings and protection of God. All things come from our Creator, both spiritual and temporal. I know there have been countless times that I have been under the protection of God and may have never known it.
In verse 25 we see the Lord’s face shining upon us. This verse is what creates the warmth and radiance that I feel every time I read it. “Be gracious to you…” embodies love and hospitality. Finally, verse 26 blesses the Israelites with favor, grace, and ultimately, peace from heaven. After this, the Bible heads into chapter seven discussing offerings from the leaders.
As a new Christian, when I read the verses of Numbers 6:24-26, I imagined looking up at the sun and sky, with warmth covering my face and body as God spoke His blessing over my life. And every time I have read it since, I feel the sunshine on my face. Every time.
Thank you for the encouragement found in Your Word. I am thankful for your blessings and protection. I pray that You will make your face shine upon me, treat me with favor in Your eyes, and grant me the peace of Christ.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.