24 “The LORD bless you and keep you; 25 the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; 26 the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”
This beautiful passage of scripture is integral to worship in liturgical denominations. It was adopted from the standard blessing as given by God to Moses and used by Israel’s priests.
But as with many often repeated Biblical texts, the meaning can be lost. It’s like driving your car. When you first learned, you had to think about each step of the process, but in time you could brake, switch gears, check your mirrors, and change lanes without thinking about what you were doing.
Many of our hymns and worship songs have been sung so often, we can sing them while thinking about something else, like what we will have for lunch or a problem at work.
So it is with our focus text. The rich meaning of this prayer for God’s blessing can be lost. It must be spoken consciously and meaningfully.
Just a word about the difference between a prayer, a greeting, and a blessing. A prayer is 2-way communication between you and God. A greeting is a 1-way statement of kindness offered to someone. But a blessing is 3-way communication involving you, God, and someone else. Our focus text then is used as a blessing in which you are calling upon God to help the hearer(s).
- “The Lord bless you and keep you.” (v 24)
In other words, God bless this person and keep on blessing them. Keep them in our continual provision and care.
- “The Lord make His face shine on you…” (v 25)
A friend of mine is going through a rough patch in his life. Recently he asked me to pray for favor, which begs the question, “Does God play favorites?” The answer is YES. ABSOLUTELY. As His children adopted into God’s forever family through the shed blood of Jesus, we can expect the scales of justice to be divinely tipped in our favor. When we ask for the Lord’s face to shine on someone, we are requesting His favor in the life of another.
- “… and be gracious to you…” (v 25b)
God is in the business of grace. The greatest example of his generosity is the gift of eternal life through Jesus.
You want to give good gifts to those you love. God can bestow gifts to your loved ones that exceed anything you could ever give them.
“…the LORD turn his face toward you…” (v26)
This part of the blessing calls upon God to be attentive to the concerns and needs of someone. The worst thing that can happen is for God to turn His back to us.
- “… and give you peace.” (v26b)
God’s peace transcends all understanding, exists despite turmoil and unrest.
Now, it would be wonderful if we could offer these sentiments to everyone we meet. But that’s just not practical. However, there is a condensed version that can be used daily.
When someone sneezes we reply, “Gesundheit,” which means good health. Or we say, “God bless you.” The only problem with these expressions, we most often speak them reflexively, with little thought.
In antiquity, “God bless you,” was spoken in earnest because it was believed that when a person sneezed their soul left the body, and ill health was eminent. Well, you and I don’t believe that, but the expression adequately captures the essence of the Numbers 6:24-26 blessing.
“God bless you” or “Have a blessed day,” are suitable quick and easy blessings to offer to anyone.
When spoken from the heart, with a genuine desire for God to help and tend to the needs and concerns of others, we are effectively offering intercessory prayer on their behalf, while giving a simple expression of our concern.
Think of these mini-blessings as 3-way communication. You — God — and the recipient. Just don’t forget to mean it when you say it.
A while back in The Forever Notebook I shared thoughts on continual prayer. Well, this is one more tool for making continual prayer a reality in your walk with God.
For more on this topic, check out this article: How to Pray Continually
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 2 (April – June) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.