The Lord, our God, is a Father like no other. His word is always true. His love never fails. His promises are never broken. What he says is done.
There is a homey, earthy comfort in this blessing prayer. It is intimate and personal in tone. It has the sense of familiarity in it. The English word ‘familiarity’ has not changed much from its original Latin root. The Latin word, familiaritas, meant: friendly relationship, a close acquaintance, or intimacy. This prayer has all of that in it. Here we see the Lord asking Moses to tell Aaron and his sons, “This is how you should bless the Israelites.” (verse 23) In these two verses we are hearing God’s familiar (family) blessing towards us.
First we hear his blessing and his desire to “keep” us, that is, to keep us safe, to support us like a father. The Lord, our God, is a Father like no other. His word is always true. His love never fails. His promises are never broken. What he says is done. Do we not long to look upon the Lord’s face to see its shining love poured out on us? Does not our heart yearn to see him face to face, eye to eye? It is a mystery, but our faith tells us that his love for each and every one of us is this personal, this intimate. He knows and loves us individually, as we are. And he invites us into that personal, intimate, friendly, close relationship with him. It is stunning to apprehend this idea. It is the truth about God.
When we are in the presence of our beloved and he, or she, lifts his, or her face up to us and looks us in the eye with all of the power of their love for us shining from their eyes into our own, does it not fill us to overflowing with joy? To know that God loves us infinitely more powerfully than even our beloved, is a source of great peace for us. For, in faith, we know that God’s love is unconditional. His love for us is perfect and eternal. It is not diminished by our failures, rather it endures our frailties, our fallibilites, our frustrations, patiently. His love for us never fails.
In this blessing we see what the Lord’s wishes for us are. He wants us to know that we are under his blessing, that he keeps us in his heart at all times. He want us to look toward him regularly, and when we do, to see that his face is always shining upon us. He wants to dwell in that intimate space of our prayer with us as our loving Lord and Father. He wants to give us the peace that our hearts desire. He is that peace. So, in other words, he wants to give himself to each of us, personally, at all times. Shalom, the Hebrew word for peace, includes within it the ideas of happiness, good health, friendship and general well-being. So, when we hear this blessing, “The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace,” we are to hear that it is his desire to give us all of these things.
Lord, fill our hearts with an ever deepening desire to be in your presence. Let us come to sit with you in the intimate space of our hearts more regularly each day. Help us to come to know the familiar love that you have for us. Fill us with the peace that only you can give. And help us to bless others in the same manner. We pray this in the name of Jesus, the Christ. Amen!
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