Lord, to know you is to find joy; the joy of pardon, presence, peace, and power. I open myself to your good gifts.
Read NUMBERS 6:22–7:11
The Priestly Blessing
22 The Lord said to Moses, 23 “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:
24 “‘“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’
27 “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”
Offerings at the Dedication of the Tabernacle
7 When Moses finished setting up the tabernacle, he anointed and consecrated it and all its furnishings. He also anointed and consecrated the altar and all its utensils. 2 Then the leaders of Israel, the heads of families who were the tribal leaders in charge of those who were counted, made offerings. 3 They brought as their gifts before the Lord six covered carts and twelve oxen—an ox from each leader and a cart from every two. These they presented before the tabernacle.
4 The Lord said to Moses, 5 “Accept these from them, that they may be used in the work at the tent of meeting. Give them to the Levites as each man’s work requires.”
6 So Moses took the carts and oxen and gave them to the Levites. 7 He gave two carts and four oxen to the Gershonites, as their work required, 8 and he gave four carts and eight oxen to the Merarites, as their work required. They were all under the direction of Ithamar son of Aaron, the priest. 9 But Moses did not give any to the Kohathites, because they were to carry on their shoulders the holy things, for which they were responsible.
10 When the altar was anointed, the leaders brought their offerings for its dedication and presented them before the altar. 11 For the Lord had said to Moses, “Each day one leader is to bring his offering for the dedication of the altar.”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Count the blessings you have received.
We have come to the end of the laws and regulations that have dominated Leviticus and Numbers up until now. Before we are taken back to the dedication of the tabernacle, which we left in Exodus 40, we have the blessing that Aaron and his sons were to declare over the people of Israel. These words continue to be used in Jewish and Christian worship, as they have been down the centuries. In 1979, two silver amulets excavated from a tomb in Jerusalem and dated to the seventh century BC contained these words – our earliest copy of words of scripture. The blessing is carefully structured in the Hebrew text, with three words in the first line, five in the second and seven in the third, made up of 15, 20 and 25 letters, making the whole like a river of blessing flowing out and expanding.
It is the Lord’s blessing to all Israelites, but it is directed toward each individual (the ‘you’ is singular). The blessing is to be found in the richness of life to which is added the Lord’s protection both from losing and misusing the blessing. The second line speaks of the intimate relationship that God has with us so that we see, like Moses, the shining glory of the Lord and know the fullness of his forgiving grace toward us. For us, this is fulfilled in the person of his Son! In the third line, the face of the Lord is turned to us in recognition of who we are and will become as we rest in his peace – shalom – that comprehensive well-being that is found in dwelling with him, whose name is ‘I am who I am’.1
The rest of today’s reading shows one pattern of response to all the Lord’s blessings as the leaders of the people bring offerings for his tabernacle.
Read through the blessing several times, immersing yourself in each word.
Merciful Father, truly your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105). Your grace and blessing are the glue that holds everything together. How great you are.
1 Exod 3:14
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