The Lord Bless You and Keep You [Part 1]
By Alan Wright — October 02, 2018
Are you ready for some good news?
Your life is not defined by how committed you are to blessing God, but how much God is committed to blessing you.
Today’s Text: “The Lord bless you and keep you;” (Numbers 6:24, ESV)
Years ago, I had the privilege of living for over a month in Israel. Housed between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, my fellow students and I were blessed to visit ancient Biblical sites and receive in-depth teachings from Christian and Jewish scholars. Of all the moments of insight, one touched me most deeply.
The Jewish rabbi guiding us to a very important archeological site (Ketef Hinnom near the old St. Andrew’s Church in Jerusalem) described the ancient burial plots that were discovered there in 1979. The dig was extensive in and around the caves that comprised the old burial ground. Archeologists uncovered a variety of interesting artifacts at the dig, but one find arrested everyone’s attention. They found two tiny, silver scrolls – the kind that a Jewish girl in ancient Israel would have worn as a pendant around her neck. The carbon dating of the little scrolls revealed the artifact to be about 2600 years old.
For fear of the artifact disintegrating if handled improperly, researchers spent three years delicately unfolding the tiny scrolls. Once the silver scrolls were opened, the scholars verified that the inscription on them was indeed Hebrew. As our Jewish guide continued explaining, his voice broke with emotion. He explained that it was our guide’s professor who was called upon to translate the little fragment on the tiny silver scroll from 700-600 B.C.
As our rabbi guide fought back emotion himself, he described what happened when his professor saw the words on the scroll. The professor began to weep and declared: “These are the words that I speak over my daughter every week. They are the blessing Aaron was given to proclaim, ‘The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face shine upon you and give you peace.’”
Previous to that archeological find, many scholars had assumed the Bible wasn’t written before the 2nd or 3rd century. The little silver scrolls became the oldest piece of evidence outside the Bible itself of just how early these words had been written.
I’ll never forget that moment in Jerusalem, hearing the story of the little silver scrolls, because I speak those words every week at every service. The Aaronic blessing (or the priestly blessing it is sometimes called) was God’s proclamation of the blessedness of His people. The entirety of Jewish life was built upon this premise, that God would not turn His face away in disgust, but would make His face shine upon His people. Through this blessing, Numbers 6:27 declares, the Lord would put His name upon the people. God’s people then and now are defined by the commitment of God to bless them. It’s who you are. And that’s the Gospel!