Summary: God blesses by giving 1) His Proclamation (Num. 6:22-23), 2) His Presence (Num. 6:24-25) and 3) His Peace (Num. 6:26-27)
Year’s end is a period of reflection and expectation. It is a time where people reflect on the events over the past year and look forward in expectation to what is to come. If we come to the opinion that our experience over this year is due to human work, good or bad luck, then there is little to be learned or assured of for this coming year. But if our reflection sees God’s hand and learns from His direction, then we can properly move forward in wisdom and hope.
Numbers 6 transitions a section of individual blessing to collective hope. It recognizes God as the source of direction and blessing and recommits the people of God to following His direction. Through confidence in His word and faithfulness to it we can be at peace, assured of His gracious presence and being in His will. This section is a benediction. In the liturgical tradition of Israel (and of the Church) the blessing (or benediction) concludes the service of worship and serves as a promise of God’s blessing on the worshipers as they go into the world (Ashley, T. R. (1993). The Book of Numbers (p. 149). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.)
As we head into the world of 2017, Numbers 6:22-27 is a fitting conclusion to 2016 and it offers for us A New Year’s Blessing showing how God blesses by giving 1) His Proclamation (Num. 6:22-23), 2) His Presence (Num. 6:24-25) and 3) His Peace (Num. 6:26-27)
God blesses by giving:
1) His Proclamation (Num. 6:22-23)
Numbers 6:22-23 22 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 23 “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, (ESV)
The only way we can proceed into the future assured of God’s blessing is to have an external source of direction. God does not merely wish us well for the future, but gives us a word of direction that we can learn from and base our actions on. That is why our text records that “the LORD spoke to Moses”. As the people of God left Egypt and journeyed to the Promised Land, they needed to know that God was with them.
• Best thing to realize heading into 2017 is that we have a sure word for direction from God in His word as we move forward.
Please turn to Genesis 12 (p.8)
The thrice-mentioned LORD (YHWH), …serve to heighten the emphasis that the God of Israel is the source of all grace, blessing, hope, and peace. This passage reiterates the great covenant blessing of Genesis 12:1–3, thereby providing continuity with that Pentateuchal foundational element.
Genesis 12:1–3 12 Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”(ESV)
• This divine speech sets the agenda not only for Abram’s life but also for his descendants. This explains how divine blessing will be mediated through Abram to all the families of the earth. The repetition of the verb bless (vv. 2–3) underscores the hope that through Abram people everywhere may experience God’s favor, reversing the curses from sin found in Gen. 3–11.. God’s invitation to Abram challenges him to abandon the normal sources of personal identity and security: his family and country. To obey, Abram must trust God implicitly; all human support is largely removed. The promised outcomes are conditional on Abram’s obedience.
• Although Abram is called to be a blessing to others, much rests on how they treat him. Those who are positive toward Abram will experience God’s favor; the one who despises Abram will know God’s displeasure. The world community though the United Nations has just pronounced a curse on the nation of Israel. Wars, famine, environmental calamity and poverty exist though universal disregard of God’s ways. Yet God desires to bless. The inclusion of all the families of the earth anticipates the spread of the gospel and salvation in Christ to the ends of the earth (Matt. 28:18–20; Acts 1:8; Gal. 3:8). ( Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 71). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.).
• Those who learn from and head God’s word will be blessed (Dt. 28:1-14). Those who disregard that word, following human wisdom for human approval will experience his cursing, culminating in His wrath (Dt. 28:15-68)
To understand how to move forward, we need to learn how to learn from the past. The conclusion to the first cycle of the Book of Numbers, and the purification and priestly section of the cycle, is an anticipatory benediction to be pronounced by Aaron and his sons over the people of Israel. In contrast to the preceding context of the Nazirite vow which was is a rite restricted to individuals, the words of the Aaronic Benediction are expansive and gracious, and they are inclusive of the whole community. (These are God’s words to Moses to be pronounced through Aaron to the people) (Allen, R. B. (1990). Numbers. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers (Vol. 2, p. 754). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.)