Blessing the People - RR181E10

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Contents

Lesson

Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: Blessing the People
Course: Course - Numbers; Faith, Law, and History
Subject: Subject:Pentateuch
Lesson#: 10
Length: 0:26:38
TapeCode: RR181E10
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Numbers Faith, Law, and History.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission


Let us worship God. Thus saith the Lord, Ye shall seek me and find me when ye shall search for me with all your heart. Jesus said blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled. Let us pray.

O Lord, our God, we give thanks unto thee for all our yesterdays and our todays. We thank thee that thou art He who dost take everything in our past, everything in our present to make these things work together for good in thee. Make us joyful, therefore, in thy providential care, thy purpose, and thy plan for us. Give us grateful hearts. Teach us day by day to walk in the blessed assurance that thou art God, and it is thy will that shall be done and not the will of ungodly men. We thank thee that we can come into thy presence, and unburden ourselves, knowing that thou dost undertake for us. Our God, we thank thee. In Christ’s name. Amen.

Our scripture is Numbers 6:22-27. Our subject: Blessing the People. Numbers 6:22-27. “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.”

We have, in these verses, the priestly benediction ordered by God through Moses, for use by Aaron and his sons. The Hebrew word for benediction comes from a word meaning “to fall on one’s knees.” Benedictions are pronounced by persons in authority in terms of God’s word, and under God’s authority. Thus, no man can bless evil. No man can bless anything condemned by God without incurring His judgment.

A common form of blessing, or benediction, is by a parent to a child. We don’t see that as often but it used to be commonplace for parents and older relatives to put their hand on a child’s head and bless him or her. [00:03:35]

When a benediction occurs in a ceremony, setting apart

When a benediction occurs in a ceremony, setting apart a building or some aspect of its furnishings, then the benediction is called a consecration. There are a number of examples of benedictions in the Old Testament. We find them very commonly from Genesis through the Psalms. In many of these cases, men are blessing God. The reason for this is that benedictions are also a form of gratitude and thanksgiving. The meaning of the Hebrew word, “To fall on one’s knees,” indicates that the one blessed receives a blessing with thanksgiving, so when the one who receives blesses the giver, it is to give thanks. So, to “bless the Lord, O my soul,” as the psalmist declares means to give thanks for all His benefits. Of course, the two magnificent psalms of blessings are Psalms 103 and 104. They joyfully enumerate all God’s blessings and declare, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name.”

In 1 Chronicles 29:10-20, we have David’s prayer of thanksgiving, a long ascription to God. In Psalm 119:12, we have both a giving of thanks and a petition in one sentence: “Blessed art thou, O Lord. Teach me thy statutes.”

Now, a basic aspect of the benediction was and is the ascription of absolute sovereignty and kingship to God, and this is the necessary prerequisite to being blessed. We receive from God when we give Him all the glory, when we confess His absolute sovereignty and his unfailing righteousness or justice, as well as His grace and His mercy.

It was a requirement of faith very early in Israel to bless God for all things, including disasters. This means recognizing God’s hand in all things. There were, in Israel, formal blessings to be recited for both good and bad tidings. The biblical precedent for this was Eli, the High Priest. When told by Samuel of God’s coming judgment on his family, Eli said, “It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth Him good.” Normally, only those capable of learning from their failings and disasters can thank God for them. This benediction, in our text, is echoed and expanded in Psalm 67, which is a song of benediction. It declares, “God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us; Selah. That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations. Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee. O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. Selah. Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee. Then shall the earth yield her increase; and God, even our own God, shall bless us. God shall bless us; and all the ends of the earth shall fear him.” [00:08:15]

Now, these verses of Psalm ...

Now, these verses of Psalm 67 are, as I said, an expansion of the benediction of Numbers, and they help us understand what a benediction means. The people are to rejoice in God and His prospering benediction. It shall be known to all the earth, and thy saving health to all nations. All the peoples, all the nations shall praise God because He shall judge all with justice, and govern the nations upon earth. When this happens, then shall the earth yield her increase and men shall prosper as never before because of God’s blessings. All the ends of the earth shall fear Him. The ancient title written above this psalm reads, “Prayer for the enlargement of God’s kingdom to the joy of the people and the increase of God’s blessings.” It is clear from everything that this psalm declares and everything it has meant to people over the centuries, that it is a post-millennial psalm. It celebrates the certain victory in history of God’s kingdom, and this is, of course, at the heart of the meaning of all benedictions. We cannot reduce it to something that’s purely personal and private. It is total in scope. God blesses us as individuals. He blesses our families. He blesses the church. He blesses the earth, whenever there is faithfulness, and the purpose of his blessings is the final triumph of His kingdom. This is what the psalmist tells us.

The benediction is Numbers is also basic to another psalm; Psalm 121, which was apparently a pilgrim song about the benediction of faith. The psalms again and again, of course, reflect this benediction, but these two in particular; 67 and 121. In Numbers 6:25, the benediction declares: “The Lord make his face shine upon thee.” That is, look upon you with favor and peace. In verse 26, we read, “The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.” To lift up one’s face towards someone is to recognize them. It means to be favorably inclined towards them. To hide one’s face from someone means to ignore them out of a dislike for them. So, verse 26 of our text speaks of being blessed.

The word translated as peace is “shalom.” Shalom is a word greatly cheapened in recent years. The biblical meaning as a Scottish scholar, Walter Riggens, points out, carries a profound meaning of security and life from hardships and curses, of completeness and wholeness in life’s experiences, of inner harmony and balance. [00:12:18]

In verse 27, God declares, “And they shall put my name

In verse 27, God declares, “And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them.” This is an unusual statement. We need to pay attention to it because it tells us much about the meaning of a benediction. Demelo{?} said, concerning it, “In the Old Testament, the name of Jehovah is His revealed character, so that to put Jehovah’s name upon a person is to declare to him the presence and nature of Jehovah. He gives them the assurance of Jehovah’s presence and favor.” This means that a benediction has no validity, unless the word of God has been faithfully declared and without reservation. To put God’s name upon a people is to lead and instruct them into God’s truth. Only when this is done does a valid blessing follow.

Although we never talk about it anymore, unhappily, there is a theology of blessing. It presupposes knowing God’s covenant word and obeying it. Now, when a husband or a wife know and obey God’s word, they are a blessing one to another, and a blessing to their children, but if a father or a mother, a husband or a wife, do not know and obey the word of God, if they are immature, if they are childish, or even evil, they cannot bless their children. They become a curse to their children, so that blessing is not merely something spoken. It is a constant attitude. The Lord lift up His face upon thee. The Lord recognize you. Now, the word recognition has a minor meaning which comes into play here. When a father recognizes his son, he declares him to be legitimate. He declares that, “Therefore, he is mine, I honor him, I instruct him, I lead him in the way of righteousness, I become a blessing to him.” When the Lord lifts up His face unto us, He recognizes us. We are His. [00:15:24]

Moreover, benedictions usually have a triune character

Moreover, benedictions usually have a triune character. Very often, they will mention the trinity, but if not, the words whereby the benediction is pronounced will be a three-fold blessing. Paul’s benediction in 2 Corinthians 13:14 declares, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all. Amen.” Here, the trinity is mentioned. In other biblical benedictions, as I indicated, it is the Lord who is mentioned and then a triple kind of indication of how you are to be blessed. A benediction is a form of prayer. True prayer is in the will of God. It is not an effort to change God but to know Him and find our place in His plan and purpose, and when we ask for things, to say, “Thy will be done.”

Joseph Parker stated this very beautifully. “We do not pray for fine weather for harvesting,” he said, “nor for fine weather for the voyage in any sense that interposes our supposed goodness between heaven and earth, as if we were more careful about the harvest than God is, or as if we cared more for the voyager’s life than does the creator of that life and the redeemer of it. Even such prayers as these, for bright sunshine, for southwest winds today to dry the ripening corn, we conclude with this part of the Lord’s prayer, ‘Nevertheless not our will but thine be done.’” Of course, Parker there refers not to what we normally call the Lord’s Prayer, but our Lord’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Putting the name of God upon His people has very important implications. In the Bible, name means nature or character. Putting God’s name upon a people begins with the faithful teaching of His law word, then the people can be blessed. In Micah 4:5, we have a reference to this: “For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever.” To walk in the name of one’s god means to live in terms of the morality of your god; Buddha or Baal, or Zeus or whatever else may be your god. So, presupposition of walking in the name of the Lord is to live in terms of His justice or righteousness, His grace and peace. Again, this takes us back to the fact of blessing those around us. No one can be a blessing to his family, or to those who work with him or for him, unless they are walking in faithfulness to God. Apart from that faithfulness to God, we can only impact a curse to those who are round about us, and the sad fact of our world today is that all around us, people are imparting a curse, one to another, and even within the church, too many who are there are not imparting blessings. [00:19:45]

Ronald B. Allen commented on this benediction, “The prayer was a priestly function, for the priests were God’s gift to the nation to stand between himself and His people.” This is, to a limited degree, true, but it is true only insofar as we recognize the priestly function of all fathers, of all those in authority, so that wherever we have any authority, we are to impact a blessing to those around and under us. When this pastoral function is faithfully administered by the priests, whether they are called employers, or fathers, or whatever, the word of God being fully taught, then there is a unity between God and His people, and blessings follow. Let us pray.

Our Father, we thank thee that thou hast blessed us through Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, and thou hast summoned us to be a blessing to all around us, and under us. Teach us day by day to walk in faithfulness to thy word, to be a blessing, to bless thee with our constant thanksgiving, to give thanks in everything, and to convey that gratitude, and that joy, and that peace to all around us. Thou hast said that godliness with contentment is great gain. Teach us to be gainers. In Christ’s name. Amen. Are there any questions now about our lesson?

I think one of the things that came through to me in reading this scripture, was how much life has changed since I was a child, because how long has it been since you have seen anyone, a grandparent, or a father or a mother, put their hand upon a child and bless them? We have seen the dramatic secularization of our life and people no longer feel, that are adults, that they have a duty through their faithfulness and obedience to God, and their thanksgiving to God, to be a blessing to those around them, so that as I prepared for this, I felt a certain sadness at recognizing how much the world has changed. Any questions or comments? Let me add now, it’s our duty to change the world, to make it again a place where blessings abound. Yes? [00:23:52]

[Audience] {?} How should a godly wife or husband respond to {?}

[Rushdoony] The first response should be prayer. The second response is to tell them wherein they have gone astray. God doesn’t ask us to nag, just to make a witness, and Ezekiel is told that he has a duty once to tell the nation of their sins, and then he is innocent of their blood, no more than that. Then the burden is upon them, and that’s it. Any other questions or comments? If not, let us then conclude with prayer.

Our Father, give us grace to change our ways and our world, that our times again may be days of benediction, of blessing, and that the earth may yield her increase, and that we may see, in our children’s children, and in the world around us, the benediction go from person to person. We thank thee for all our todays and our yesterdays. We thank thee for the judgment which now confronts us, and we pray that it will bring men and women, and nations to their knees, knowing their sin. Bless us unto faithfulness. And now go in peace. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost bless you and keep you, guide and protect you now and forevermore. Amen. [00:26:30]

End of tape

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