When I make this prediction. But I reckon it might just be possible that everyone in this room loves the notion of being blessed. I'm I'm just pointing it out there. Like, I know it's an extraordinary assumption, but I'm gonna go with it. I reckon all of us in this room, share that impulse of that desire to be blessed.
I've chosen this text because not only is that our hope, But actually, it's the Lord's hope as well for you and for me. Does the Lord want blessing for you? Yes, he does. But the other great thing about this passage is, it also defines what the blessing is or what that means. So is blessing financial prosperity.
Is it good health? Is it the absence of trouble? Is it being able to go back to the pot? Maybe it is. A few tinnies, you know.
Is it hooking a loved 1? Is it getting out of lockdown? Is it a lot being able to have back in your home. Is that what blessing is? Maybe it is.
I don't know if that's what you think, blessing is. Because lockdown isn't blessing, is it? It cannot be. We cannot say lockdown isolation, and all of that stuff is blessing. Surely not.
What is it to be blessed? Here's here's our tact before us because it teaches us what it is. It comes up 3 times in these verses, verse 23. This is how you are to bless the Israelites. The Lord bless you verse 24.
They will put my name on the Israelites. And I will bless them. Verse 27. Blessing is all over this passage, and to be blessed. And I mean really blessed.
In the highest sense of the word. The highest of all human experience is to be known by God. It is to be noticed by him with favor. It is to be known by the try you an eternal God with pleasure, with joy in his heart. That is what it means to be blessed.
Blessing is not finely in circumstances, it's not in possessions. No, it's in the quality of one's relationship with the Lord. It is when he knows you and me with favor and pleasure. Gonna you go go through these verses with 3 points. We've got a how, we've got a what, and we've got a who.
We're going to begin with the how, 0.1, how God's people are blessed in verse 22. It's easy, isn't it to lose the gravity behind just what a blessing is? You think about every prayer. Ever uttered, it goes along something along those lines of, oh, bless this person, bless that person, bless Johnny, as he as his job interview. Bless Harry as he goes shopping kind of thing.
You know, we we we say the words so often, that perhaps it can become a phrase by which we lose the enormity of what is being said. A blessing from the Lord, right? It's so important, it's so exalted, it's so mighty, that he actually gives you a set of instructions on how it is to be done. Verse 20 first 23. The Lord said to Moses, Tell Aaron and Moses, this is how you are to bless the Israelites.
That's the set of instructions. How are God's people gonna be blessed by him? Well, he sets up a channel. If we can put it that way. Set up a channel to show favor to his people.
It's an exclusive act, and the channel is Aaron and Aaron's sons. Who were they? Well, they were the priests. They were God's chosen priests in the family of Israel. That's why this is called the priestly blessing as I've got it here in my NIV.
God's favor goes through them. That's the channel. We use a really fancy term to mediate. Fancy term in it. Technical term.
You mediate the blessing. Mediate the blessing to the people, through the priests. This is the set of instructions to follow, that means God people receive blessing from him. Why though? Gocker just do it without anyone.
Can we? Why set up a channel? Why use the priests? Why do it that way? I think it's got to be because of who the Lord is.
Who is he? Is the Holy the eternal God, the perfect Almighty creator, the sinless 1, pure in his being, and a blessing involves his entire character as he pours out his pure being, on his favorite chosen ones. So there has to be this set of instructions in order that it is carried out. Appropriately. Now we're not old testament, Israel, last time I looked.
Are we? But we are blessed, and we are showered with favor from the most high God, not through the mediator of Aaron or his chosen ones, no, our mediator is Christ. That's why the author to the Hebrews calls him our great high priests. He's a great high priest, and he channels every day into your heart, every spiritual blessing, from God himself to us. As his people, and he is the only way, he's the only way in how we are to accept blessing from God.
We only know the favor of God in all of his character, through his goodness coming to us, and the channel is Christ. He mediates the presence of God to you to me. It's how we are blessed. To the channel of the cross. That's how you are forgiven.
It's how you are cleansed from sin, the channel of the resurrection of our Jesus. That's how we're given hope for the future. The Lord Jesus. Isn't he? He's our great high priest.
He is how his church is blessed. That's the how, verse 27. That is how you're gonna be blessed, or will be blessed. We've got a what though, don't we? From verse 24 to 26.
What God's people are blessed? With. Read those verses again. The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you.
The Lord turned his face towards you, and give you peace. That is what? God's people are blessed with. But I need you to remember the context of these verses. These verses are for Israel.
Now, where is Israel? Where is Israel in these verses when they are first Ritten. They've come out the land of Egypt. They've been rescued from slavery. They've gone through the sea on the dry.
Land because of the Almighty power of God. They've been rescued. They're en route to the promised land. But these promises These words come to Israel when they are in the wilderness. That's actually what the name of this book means.
We're English, so we're really boring. We just call it the book of numbers. How boring can you get? But in the Hebrew bible, it literally just meant, in the wilderness. How much better is that?
We should all just cross that out of our bibles now and just put in the wilderness. That's what That's where the book of numbers takes place in the wilderness, and you think of the wilderness, and the wilderness is a place full of trouble, the wilderness is a place full of challenges. The wilderness is a place where Israel herself was confronted with tasks concerning their own faith and unbelief Will God provide for them in such a barren place? What about the enemies? Are they gonna come and attack them?
Will they be safe? What about that hazardous journey, all the way to the promised land. That's the wilderness. It's full of trouble. It's full of danger.
It's full of hardship. It presents great challenges. It brings suffering. A land of hardship barrenness. That is where they are at.
And into that situation, God promises to keep them. God promises to shine his face in favor upon them and be gracious. He promises that he will give them peace. Surrounded by the dangers, amidst the fears, and the worries. Do you see how precious those kind of promises are in a place like the wilderness?
This then is a blessing precisely for the context of the wilderness. The Lord will help and bless them on their way. And it's more incredible when you just read how unfaithful on unbelieving Israel. They are constantly grumbling, whinging, fighting back against the character of God. They find themselves getting bitten by snakes.
They're absolutely driving God to the Tethr. And yet at the start of this book, here we have God preserving magnus efforts and promises of blessing to these people. Protection. Protection as he keeps them. They're not overcome by their enemies.
He will show grace. What's grace or grace God's gracious, and it's simply his undeserved kindness. To those that don't deserve it. He promises them peace and fulfills it, doesn't it? Because they do have from war.
They're not overcome by their enemies. This is how they are blessed. It's what they are blessed with. Now, will he not bless you in these same ways? Even more so, as you make progress on in your Christian lives to the promised heavenly rest, will he not bless you?
Will not God will not God's grace be giving you to heal you of sin and disobedience? When faced with trials and fears, and the enemies of God. Do you not do you not want to know something of the peace of God stabilizing the heart? Now, there will be war, weren't there? Spiritual war, spiritual war against the flesh, the devil, temptation, the enemy.
Hustility will come to us. Don't we want to know peace? Doesn't God promise peace? I think that's why Philippians 4 verses 7 and 8. It's so good, do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanks giving, present your request to God, and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds.
In Christ Jesus. That's a blessing of peace for you. And for me? These are the blessings that God not only promises us. He says, They are ours, and they are ours in Christ, and we will be blasting these ways in him.
No doubt about it. It's how you have been blessed. It's how you will be blessed. This is how God This is why he blesses his people with. And I want you to notice this, before we move on.
Of course, protection, that's great. Grace is great. Peace, they're all fantastic. We all love them, and we all want them. But this passage makes clear to you, and that they make clear to me that they come from God himself.
They come when God in his great delight, turns, right? Terms to notice his people. These are blessings that come directly as the Lord makes his face, shine on his people. They come in light of our God, turning his faith to notice us, to care for us, to know us, You cannot disconnect the blessings of God from the character of God. Those 2 things are wedded together, married.
A blessing from the Lord. He's a blessing from the Lord. When our Lord looks upon us in his kindness, when his face shines upon us in pleasure in Jesus. That is how his blessings become so fulfilling because we receive God himself. Do you see how he invests himself?
He invests himself into his people, by his grace, by his protection, by his peace. Do you see that? They're not just abstract, good thing that we like the idea of? No. They're bound up in who God is.
He's decided to notice you, with favor, as his face shined with pleasure. That's what his people have blessed with. We've got a how, we've got a what, We've also got a who in verse 27. Who god's people are blessed with? So they will put my name verse 27 on the Israelites, and I will bless them.
This is the conclusion of the matter, and it's a good way of summarizing verses 22 to 26 because What is finally going on in this magnificent, priestly blessing? Here's what's going on. The people of God are being owned by the name of God. The name of God in these verses is often said, Yahweh. You might have heard that when reading the bible or being taught it.
But it's it's shown to us, capitalized, l o r d, the name of God, appears 4 times in verses 22 to 27. Because this is who God's people are blessed with, himself, his very name. Now, The name of God takes us back to Exodus 3. Ex 3 is when Moses goes up the mountain. He sees a burning bush.
And God reveals himself from the bush. It's such a massive moment, but it's so massive because the Lord God is revealing his name. His personal, covenant name to Moses. It's a massive moment, and his name is simply a shorthand way of saying, all of my character, all of my being, all of me, all of the identity of God himself. His name is just a shorthand way of saying that.
That's why it's so significant. It's why it's so awesome. You know, it's so awesome that the Jews wouldn't even dare say the name because they thought it was too holy. And yet, when you look at this blessing, here you have the Lord himself, telling his people You are to put my name. You are to put all of me onto this people.
That is some blessing. Because the greatest. The most highest experience possible for any human being is to have the fullness of God knowing that we are owned by him, knowing we are known by him. And that is what Israel was to have when they were surrounded by the wilderness. Surrounded by their enemies with a threat of war hanging over them.
They were owned. They were owned by the divine holy name of yahweh. That is extraordinary. You cannot get a better climax than that, can you? Can you?
But then we realized, well, hang on a minute. Yes, we can. Like, I'm only on page 141 of my bible here. What about the rest of it? Because God goes to far greater lengths than number 6, to put his name onto his people.
So we get to John's gospel. Thomas, 1 of Jesus' disciples. He asked Jesus this brilliant question. He says, show us the father, that will be enough for us. Now, why does he ask that question?
Well, here's what's going on in his brain. He's thinking, what higher experience can there be, what higher blessing can there be than beholding God, Yahweh himself. That's what Moses happened what's happened to Moses, he's right to think that. But then he's blind, didn't he? He's blind to the fact that God himself It's the 1 he's asking the question too.
Because Jesus. Jesus himself is the 1 that takes the divine name on himself John 8 58. How does God ultimately put his name on to his people? In Christ. In in Christ through the person of the Holy Spirit as he comes to reside in the hearts of his church.
That's his people, that's you and me. Think about the last words that Jesus Azarotas in this world before returning to his father's presence. He tells his disciples, you're gonna go into all the nations, teaching them my word, but you're gonna baptize them in the name of the father, of the Son of the Holy Spirit. That is full divine ownership by the personal covenantal, triune, name of God. That is the divine name that shines with pleasure, and the kind of divine ownership of those that belong to Jesus.
Should blow our minds. Oh, the full triune God owns us, my friends. He owns us. That's how we are blessed beyond anything our human language can even get close to articulating. Oh, God, through the gospel he has chosen, hasn't he, to place his full name upon you, brother and sister.
It means he owns us. It means he knows us. It means he looks upon us with favor and joy. It means we are blessed and we are guaranteed to be blessed. That is what a blessing is.
But how should we live? How then should we live? Got 2 very quick lessons to help us. Wrap this up. Here's the first lesson I want you to remember this.
Our circumstances do not prove whether God looks upon us with his blessed I'll say that again. Our circumstances do not prove or validate whether God looks upon us. With his blessing. What do I mean? Here's what I mean.
Isn't it easy to think, favorable situations prove God's favor. And unfavorable situations, prove his displeasure. It's easy to think that. So lockdown means displeasure, doesn't it? It must mean that.
Surely, being separated from human community. That's not blessing. Is it? It cannot be. It's too easy to read our lives like that, but I think it's misguided.
Remember where the people of God are in, this book. They are in the wilderness. The wilderness is not a place we think the favor of God's space is found. Because we think difficulty equals God's displeasure. Wrong.
That is a distortion. The wilderness precisely is where God's blessing comes perhaps with the greatest of clarity. Has God brought you into the wilderness over this last year? Perhaps he has. Maybe he has.
You know that, miracle Jesus stores when he feeds a 5000. It's striking when you read it, because it leaves you with the notion that Jesus himself leads, leads the crowds of people into the wilderness, into the barren place, into the desolate place, the dangerous place, the unfavorable place. Jesus himself leaves them there, but why would he do that? To punish them, to show them his displeasure, no, so that they may feed on him, because he is better. Because he is the ultimate source of all blessing.
Because the wilderness is the place where God's blessing himself shines the most. So lockdown must be a place of blessing. Isolation must be a place of blessing, because it's a wilderness. The lesson from number 6 there is undeniable. God's face shines in the wilderness, brothers and sisters.
It's where he blesses his loved ones, his treasured ones, those that are owned by him. You know, surely, the Lord has brought his church into the wilderness this year. Can't deny either. Any church that is told to isolate is a wilderness. You know, surely 20 20 has been a year where God has not But maybe perhaps 20 20 is a year where he's most blessed us.
He's entrusted us with difficulty. That's a great That's a great a great reason to know his blessing upon us. I think of a lady in our church. She would be horrified if she knew talking about her, which is called Wendy. She only became a Christian about a year ago.
She got baptized about a year ago. And her life since getting baptized has been absolutely rubbish. She's had terrible health difficulties to the point that she was diagnosed with cancer just a few months ago. But in it, like, Like, there's no resentment. There's no antagonism towards God, there has been a joyful submission to his ways.
A joyful knowledge of his word as she simply talks about how precious his word has been to her in those times. That is because God's face is shining upon her. In those difficult circumstances. The wilderness does not prove God's not with you. The wilderness does not prove he's withholding blessing from you.
It's the other way around. It's where the favor of our Lord, Jesus, shines the brightest. That's 1 lesson. Here's another lesson. I'll finish with this 1.
Blessing is guaranteed to you and to me. Provided we define it correctly. He does say we will be blessed. It's our hope for or it's his hope for us. No doubt about it.
But God defines what blessing is. And blessing is being owned. By him, in Christ. It's being chosen to receive him, in his son, in the gospel. Is that how you define what it means to be blessed?
Highest possible blessing we could encounter is that we are known by yahweh himself through the person of Christ. Knowing we are loved by him, that much it brings security It brings trust, it brings peace to the heart. It ensures we will be kept safe as we journey on a hazardous pilgrimage to our heavenly rest. It's the ultimate and greatest blessing any of us can know. It is, without a doubt, we are guaranteed great blessing and favor.
But it's certain provided we allow God to define it as he wishes to. Because it's not fooled them mentally tighter, things we own, possessions we have, joys we have, the desperate yearnings of our hearts that may still remain unanswered the job that we have or don't have. It's not tied to those things. It's tied to himself, because God knows. He knows there is no higher prize than him.
He knows there is no greater treasure than his eternal, glorious, triune character. His blessing is fundamentally tied to himself, and he wants to give us the best, but he knows he is the best. So being known by the Lord is how he wants to bless you, to show you his pleasure, and his beaming face in the Gospel of Christ. Of course, we sin. We do.
We ache for the treasures of this world before God sometimes. We fall into disobedience. We grumble like Israel at times. But here is the power of Christ his empowerment of the cross to turn to him, trusting him to take away the penalty of our sin, to wean us off its effect. To show us the joy of his father's face.
That would take a lifetime. Be defying blessing. As God defines it for us. Let me finish with a great quote by CS Lewis. He's got a sermon.
You should all read it called the weight of glory. Read it again after that, because it's that good. And he writes in it about just how astonishing it is to be remembered with favor by God. And he describes supreme joy being like the doorway into the character of God ourselves, and we've been knocking up this doorway, all of our Christian lives. It's a pursuit of the reality that God himself delights in us, looks on us with pleasure.
So he says these words. I quote, in the end, that face which is the delight or the terror of the universe must be turned upon of us either with 1 expression or with the other. Either conferring glory inexpressible, or inflicting shame that can never be cured or disguised. I read the other day that the fundamental thing is how we think of God, by God himself, it is not. How God thinks of us is not only more important, but infinitely.
More important end quote. He is right. Isn't he? He is right. I can increasingly know God better and better, and I hope I do.
But what about the knowledge that I am known? And cherished looked upon with favor in Christ. That is infinitely more. Important. That is the way to blessing my friends.
Let me pray. Heavenly father. We thank you for your unthinkable, incomprehensible determination to bless the sinful heart by being owned by you, taking away our sin in Christ and being cherished by the heart of you or divine, Triune eternal God. That is truly something to comprehend. We pray our heavenly father, we would know the joy.
Are being owned by you, of knowing what you think of us, not because we loved you, but our heavenly father in Christ, because you loved. Us, we pray these things in our Savior's name. Our men.