Series: The Word
Numbers 6:24-26 ESV
Numbers 6:24-26 is a beautifully written (and spoken) blessing that I’ve heard many time in my life. Every time I hear it in a group setting (like church) a wave of peace envelopes the people who are gathered there.
We always have to remember that scripture builds on scripture. That makes us wonder about the context of Numbers, Chapter 6.
As it opens, we discover there is a discussion about Nazarites in the Hebrew community.
In the Hebrew language a Nazir refers to a person who is consecrated or separated from others.
Being a Nazirite was thought to be a wonderful blessing. “The vow of the Nazirite was to express one’s special desire to draw close to God and to separate oneself from the comforts and pleasures of this world. This vow could be taken by a man or woman in Israel.”
Who could be a Nazarite? Anyone, male or female could be a Nazarite. The time period of separation from society was for a specified period of time and the vow included no alcohol, no cutting of hair or no ponytails…hair had to be hand loose. They were to have no contact with dead bodies (so even going to a burial would be forbidden.) The days of separation are set aside for Holy purposes. Breaking the vow had consequences (see Numbers 6:9-12); sacrifices were made to God when the time of separation ended (see Numbers 6:13-21); and the blessings of the people will be completed by the Priest (22-23); and finally the blessing will be given from Aaron (24-26).
The blessing in Numbers 6:24-26 was, “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”
Even though I’ve heard the blessing in church, until I studied Numbers 6 I don’t recall hearing the details about the blessing or the history of the blessing.
Still, the idea of God keeping us in His mind and keeping us in His thoughts isn’t something I’d thought about until I studied the full meaning of the blessing.
Most of my life I thought I was the one who wanted God and sought God out. I didn’t think it was even possible for God to love me so much that I remain in His thoughts day and night.
Because we are human we tend to think of God in human terms. God is identified as Father, Mother Earth, Savior, and sustainer of life. While all of those things are true, God is also Holy, set apart and divine.
In Seminary we studied the names of God in Hebrew.
God is Jehovah Nissi. That means God is our banner. In a Exodus 17: 15-16 we read, “And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The Lord Is My Banner, saying, “A hand upon the throne of the Lord! The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”
God brought victory to His people when He interceded on their behalf in battle.
God is Elohim, creator. We learn from Genesis 1:1 that, “In the beginning God created heaven and earth.” Creator God did not stop there. God continues to create and recreate the cycle of life.
There are other names for God beyond this list, and scripture identifies the depth and breadth of God:
God is Adonai, my Lord. (Genesis 15:2)
God is El Roi, the God who sees me. (Genesis 16:13-14)
God is El Shaddai, Almighty God. (Genesis 17:1)
God is Jehovah Jireh, Provider (Genesis 2)
God is Yahweh, To Be* Lord. (Exodus 3:14-15)
God is Jehovah Rapha, Lord who heals. (Exodus 15:26)
God is a Jehovah Shalom, peace. (Judges 6:24)
God is Yahweh Hizqi, my strength. (Psalm 18:1)
God is Jehovah Sabaoth, God of Hosts [or in English Armies]. (I Samuel 1:3)
God is Yahweh Rohi, who sees me. (Genesis 48:15)
Of the many names of God identified in scripture the Prophet Jeremiah identified God as being our God who is everywhere in Jeremiah 23:23-24, “I am a God who is everywhere and not in one place only. No one can hide where I cannot see them. Do you not know that I am everywhere in heaven and on earth?”
We also need to understand the Hebrew word Shalom encompasses much more than an end to violence. It is a state of mind derived from the heart of God. God IS shalom. God is eternal abiding peace.
Our God who is everywhere and sees everything IS eternal abiding peace.
Spiritual Practice: God’s Peace
Take time today to receive God’s peace. When you seek it you will find it.
In God, Deborah