Don’t Leave Before The Benediction
And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them. Number 6:22-27
My brothers and sisters, the text calls our attention to an important fact, one that is relevant to us today. For we have gathered together in the house of worship. And since we’ve been here we have heard the Deacons pray. We have sang praises. We testified of God’s goodness. We have given in tithes and offerings. Now we are about to share in the shared word. But wouldn’t it be strange after the sermon is ended and we would stand and go home without the benediction. Wouldn’t it be strange at the close of the singing, praying, testifying, the giving, preaching and there was no benediction. Our father tried to impress upon us, the significance of the benediction. Our fathers of old stressed the thought to the people the importance of receiving the benediction. They tried to tell us that there’s a blessing staying for the benediction. They tried to tell us that the benediction is not just a formality, it is not a gesture of show or showmanship, but there is a distinct and uniqueness in the benediction, a blessing come from the benediction, and that we are in fact bless by the benediction. Can I get a witness?
Now I don’t mean to worry you, but come a little closer and lets look at this benediction. The words I’ve read in your hearing, were the words of a benediction. It was here that the Lord comes to Moses and instructs Moses to tell Aaron, to call the children of Israel together and say these words to them. The Lord bless them and keep them, the Lord make His face shine upon them. And be gracious unto them. The Lord lifts up His countenance upon them and give thee peace. Now every benediction will have a three fold prayer. In this benediction there is also a three fold prayer. The first prayer is for protection. The second prayer is for divine providence and the third prayer is for peace. Now come a little closer and lets look closely at this benediction. These were the words of the Lord instructed to give Moses. Moses in turn was to tell Aaron.
Now the Lord told Moses to tell Aaron, to bless my people, Aaron was the priest, and the priest must come, and they had to come in those days from the tribe of Levi, for the tribe of Levi was the priestly tribe out of which the Levites came. The Bible says the Lord tells Moses, tell Aaron to bless the people and he told Aaron because Aaron was a priest, bless the people. The first part in the benediction was the prayer of protection. Listen at him. May the Lord bless thee and keep thee. That was protection. Am I right? Notice here the emphasis that is put on the Lord. Everyone of these prayers began with the Lord. That the Lord’s blessing and keeping. Then the Lord makes His face shine upon thee. And thirdly, the Lord be gracious unto thee, and give thee peace. It seems here that Moses is aware of the petition of the Lord. The Lord is the one who gives the blessings. If you want to be blessed, you’ve got to come through by way of the Lord. Can I get a witness?
Now there are two kinds of blessings that I’ve discovered in my study of the word of God. One is found over there in Matthew when Jesus went upon the mountain and said, “Blessed are the pure in heart. Blessed are the meek. Blessed are the peacemakers.” Oh brothers and sisters that blessed has been interpreted to mean happy. Another blessing is broken down to mean spiritual enrichment or spiritually endowed, meaning blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. You are endowed with a blessing when you are humble before the Lord. You’re endowed with a blessing when you thirst for righteousness. You may be amazed but there are folk who thirst after everything but the Lord. They want more of everything but the Lord. They want an increase on their job. They want to increase this and increase that, but very few want more of Jesus. And that blessing is the only kind God can give. Blessings come to you all the time that only come from God. Can I get a witness?
The second type of blessings that you’ll find is over in Psalms, where it says, “I’ll bless the Lord oh my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name.” That’s the kind of blessing that we can do. Bless the Lord oh my soul. I will speak to my soul and I will say unto my soul, soul speak well of the Lord. Now brothers and sisters, there ought to come a time in each of our lives when we address our souls, our own souls and say to our souls, speak well of the Lord, bless the Lord, meaning exalt the Lord, lift the Lord, speak well of the Lord, share the Lord with others, lift up the Lord, that’s the kind of blessing that we can do. Don’t you ask God to let you suffer, because He will, can I get a witness? Is it alright if I teach a while? Yes, that’s the kind of blessing we can do. So here the Lord tells Moses to tell Aaron to bless the people. Bless them like this, “The Lord bless thee and keep thee.” Now don’t leave before the benediction. For he pronounces the benediction in praying for the Lord to take care of each one.
Now don’t turn up your nose, because he who prays this prayer is praying for you. We’ve been in the sanctuary, we’ve been praying and singing and reading the scriptures and testifying and giving and now we are about to walk out of the door at a dangerous time. We are about to go into world that is filled with danger seen and unseen. We are about to leave the church and go out into a world where there are murders, rapists, killers, drugs and other things that will cause us to doubt the safety of God’s love. We are about to go into a world filled with all types of hatred, a world filled with malice and meanness, don’t leave before the benediction. Because he who prays the prayer of benediction is praying these words; Lord we have been here in your name, we’re getting ready to go back our yonder where there is danger, Lord keep us. The Lord bless thee and keep thee. Brothers and sisters, I think I ought to tell you that we can’t keep ourselves.
I think so many times that’s why many of us end up with the problems that we have because we try to keep ourselves. You can’t keep yourself, the Lord must keep you. Listen at the prayer that he prayed here. The Lord bless thee and keep thee. I can’t keep you and that’s another problem with some of us. We are trying to keep other folk. We try to keep somebody else when we can’t keep our own selves. I can’t keep anybody. I try to keep you, I turn my back and you get away. I try to keep you then you get angry with me. I may let you go. So he prays here, The Lord bless thee and keep thee. Yes, the Lord keeps you. I don’t know about you, but that’s my daily prayer, Lord keep me. When I’m sick, Lord keep me. When I’m well, keep me. In my weakness, keep me. In my strength, keep me. Keep me in my ups. Keep in my downs. Keep me in the morning. Keep me in the evening. Keep me at night. Keep in the daytime. Keep me on the highway. Keep me on the road. Keep me up. Keep my faltering footsteps.
Oh brothers and sisters, he tells the Lord, if you pull back the skirts of eternity and declare time that has been, won’t be no more, keep me until I get home. I can hear him saying the benediction prayer. Oh, brothers and sisters, I can’t say it like I want to. The Lord needs to be your God. Since He rescued us from destruction, we ought to surrender to Him and He being
Lord, we ought to make Him ruler of our lives. I don’t know about you, but Thursday evening I surrendered. He’s not just God now, He’s the light of my pathway, I surrender and now He’s Lord. Can I get a witness? Oh brothers and sisters, here the Lord tells Moses bless my people and tell Aaron to bless them on this wise; The Lord bless thee and keep thee. Yes, we are hear this morning because He kept us throughout last week. You see for some folk, everyday was not a good day. Then on the other hand every day wasn’t a bad day. Oh brothers and sisters, somebody here knows that the Lord will protect you. That’s what the songwriter was meaning when he said, “Through many dangers toils and snares, somebody was keeping me, because I have already come.
So he said, “It was grace that brought me, so he says the Lord bless thee and keep thee, yes I need the Lord to guide me everyday as I travel along this narrow way.” And he goes on to say, “I got to have Jesus, for I just can’t make it by myself. Caused I prayed, I prayed, I prayed and ask the Lord, don’t leave me by myself. Every second, every minute, every hour of the day, every week, every month, through the years come what may, I got to have Jesus, for I just can’t make it by myself.” Oh brothers and sisters, don’t leave before the benediction, because that’s what it’s all about. The Lord bless thee and keep thee; a prayer of protection. In the second part of the benediction, he was praying also for divine providence. Now listen come a little closer and look at what he says’ The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee. Now brother preacher what does that mean, the face of the Lord? It meant the presence of the Lord.
The face of the Lord denotes the presence, the closeness of the Lord, now don’t leave before the benediction, because he who announces the benediction and prays the benediction is saying Lord they are about to go out, walk with them. Lord they are about to go out into the streets, drive with them, Lord go with them and guide them safely, the face here denotes the presence of the Lord. It’s not just enough to have the Lord close to me, I want to know what kind of presence it is. Is it an angry presence or is it a thankful presence or a shining presence. God’s presence is our benefit. I don’t want the Lord close to me and be against me. I want Him close if He’s for me. I want Him close to me to help me. In other words what he’s saying here and what he mean is that the face for the Lord, His presence for us is helpful. Oh brothers and sisters, I don’t know about you, but I need the Lord’s help. I have some situations to deal with. Each of you have some dilemma and sometime you come to church looking for peace, because you don’t have any at home.
I think we ought to have service this morning, a whole lot of folk are in depressing situations at home, and they’ve come here to have their spirits uplifted. They come here to have joy put in their hearts. They come here to put joy in their feet. Joy in their souls. Now don’t leave before the benediction, because some of us even though we escape trouble at home for a few hours, it’s waiting on you when you get back. You need to stay for that last prayer. The Lord make His face to shine upon you. Are we listening to me? Listen because I see a breakthrough coming in. The Lord make His face to shine upon you. Come on and walk with me saints, yes, His face is a shining face and His face is a gracious unto us. By the mere fact that the Lord is gracious to me, make me grateful. I’m grateful because the Lord is gracious. You ought to be grateful this morning because the Lord is gracious,. I maybe lied on, but the Lord is smiling. I may here my name ringing on the wings of morning, but the Lord is smiling. Don’t leave before the benediction because you need the Lord for you.
And he who pronounces the benediction is praying that the presence of the Lord be with
you and for you. Oh my brothers and sisters, you need that because somewhere in this world is against you. Somewhere in this world, somebody wants to see you fall. Somewhere in this world, somebody wants to catch you like an old rag and wring you out. Don’t leave before the benediction, because the man who prays the benediction, is praying that the presence of the Lord is with you. He prays that the Lord will walk on your side. I don’t know about you, but I need to feel the Lord with me. Oh, it’s a worrisome journey when you don’t feel the presence of the Lord. You don’t know which way to turn, you don’t know which step to take, you are undecided, and you’re shaky when the presence of the Lord is not with you. Can I get a witness? So here the second prayer is the prayer of divine providence. Prayer for the presence of the Lord. The third part of the prayer is a prayer of peace and my brothers and sisters, peace is what we all want.
Oh Loving Peace, he closed the benediction by saying, “The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.” I think I ought to tell you that we have men and we pay them thousands of dollars to seek out peace. There are men hired by the President, taking money that could be feeding the hungry children, searching for peace, and I want to tell you that God is the source of peace. God is the source of lasting peace. If you want peace in the valley, you got to make peace with the Lord. Can I get a witness? So here he closes by saying, “The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee and give thee peace.” Oh brothers and sisters, I think I ought to tell you that peace only comes when the Lord gives it. Peace only comes when the Lord ordains it. Peace hear means the absence of conflict and the absence of confusion. Peace here means the assurance of God’s divine protection. It means the assurance of God’s divine presence. And peace only comes when we go down in prayer.
Well, don’t leave before the benediction, because the man that stands here and raises his hands and prays the benediction prayer is praying for you to have peace. Oh Loving Peace, confusion is in our homes and we need peace. Some folk are running to Sister Mary’s house. Some folk are running to Ms. Cleo, because they can’t find peace in their homes. Everybody is concerned about peace. Can I get a witness? But listen here at what the Lord says. “The Lord, the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” Now I heard the songstress, Sis. Vanessa Bell Armstrong sing a song that says when the Lord says peace, there will be peace. Oh the world is filled with swift transitions and none on earth who can stand, build your hope on things eternal and hold to God’s unchanging hand. Don’t let go, but hold to God’s unchanging hand. Oh brothers and sisters, I thank God today that He don’t change. We change, but that God of ours don’t change.
* As I hurry on to a close, every Sunday morning I pray for the Lord to give me some peace. Yes, I pray every morning as I get ready to go out and start another days journey, for peace in every place. I look up toward heaven way and tell the Lord, “Lord I need you to give me peace.” Now Loving Peace don’t you leave before the benediction, because some of our families have members against one another. There is no peace in our home. You can hardly have a family reunion without confusion getting in the way. Some of us have confusion on our jobs. Can’t find peace in the community. Neighbor against neighbor. Husband against wife, father against son. Mother against daughter and even confusion among of our own selves. Yes, don’t you leave before the benediction, because some of churches are not even at peace. There’s confusion in a lot of our churches. So, don’t you leave before the benediction, because he who prays the benediction is praying for peace.
Don’t you leave before the benediction, because he who prays the prayer, prays for your protection, and he prays for the Lord’s presence. I’m going home when I tell you, I’m reminded of the day when the Lord spoke to my soul. I’m reminded of the day when the Lord spoke peace to my heart. Is there anybody here that has peace with the Lord? Ain’t God alright? When you got peace with the Lord, you don’t have any trouble having peace with your fellowman. The reason there is so much confusion is you got a lot of folk that haven’t any peace with God. Now when you got peace with God you can wear a smile. When you got peace with God, you don’t set up dead and dry, you can wear a smile. When you got peace with God, you can shake hands with your neighbor. You can shake hands with your sisters and shake hands with your brothers. Say good morning to your friends. Ain’t God alright? I don’t know how you feel, but I feel good because I have peace in my soul. I’m not worried. Oh, Loving Peace, I use to be timid.
I use to walk from place to place trying to trying to find peace. I was looking here and there. I was looking for a way to find peace, Instead of finding peace on my own, I found the Lord. I heard Jesus say you’re looking for a way to find peace, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the light. Any man come to the father except by me. When I heard His voice, when I heard His voice I saw the door. I heard Him say I am the door. If you come any other way, you come as a thief and a robber. I say the door. I took a step to go through the door. But Satan looked at me and he said, if you go to Jesus somebody is going to talk about you. If you go to Jesus, somebody is going to put you down. If you go to Jesus, somebody is going to try to stop you. I don’t how you feel about it, but I decided to that I was going through. I going on, I going through. Yes, I’m going to go on. I’ve come too far to turn around. I don’t believe He brought me this far to leave me. Ain’t He alright? I stepped out. I stepped out. Don’t leave before the benediction. Step on God’s word. He’s able. He’s able. Anybody here know that the Lord is able. Say yeah, say yeah. Oh yeah.