Blessings in the New Year

Based on:  Numbers 6:22-27

Now that one more year has passed and a new one has begun, wouldn’t it be nice to know how this new year is going to go.  Wouldn’t it be nice to know what is going to happen in this coming year.  Actually, you already know.  I told you last Sunday in the worship service.  I also told you on the Sunday before that.

We hear about what will happen to us in this coming year in the words of our first lesson for today.  Today, as we look at the name of our savior, we look at the name through which our Savior God made himself known in the Old Testament.  As he revealed himself to the Israelites in the Old Testament, he used the name and Yahveh, which in our NIV Bible is written as Lord in all capitals.  This is the name that communicates to us God’s unchanging Love.

We hear in this first lesson held God placed his name on his Old Testament people as the priests pronounced this blessing over them.  These words are of course very familiar to you.  While the translation is slightly different you hear these same basic words at the end of just about every worship service.  "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace."

When I say these words at the end of the worship service, they’re not just some desire on my part, asking that God would please bless you.  No, they are a promise from God.  Listen to what God says to Moses, "so they (the priests) will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them."  When I say these words at the end of the worship service they are God’s promise to you.  In these words you hear what will happen to you in this coming year.

In that first section, "the Lord bless you and keep you." The Lord promises to do for you what he has always done for you in the past.  He will continue to bless you with food and with home and with all that you need for your earthly life.  And not only will he bless you with material things, but also with spiritual things as he gives you opportunities to hear his word and receive the sacrament.  His promise to keep you also includes protection from physical as well as spiritual harm that he knows will be too much for you to handle or will not serve for your ultimate good.

The next part of the blessing is this.  "The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you."  Here we see that God will continue to smile upon you, continuing to show that love for you he has and his son, Jesus Christ.  God is promising to you that even though last year you made mistakes and your life was not one of perfect devotion to the one who has already blessed you with so many things, and even though the same will be true in the year to come, God promises to show you grace, to show you that undeserved love that he gives you through your savior, Jesus Christ.

The third part of God’s promise to you in this lesson is "the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace." Now that you have everything you need for your earthly life and you have forgiveness for all your sins, you can see that God has not turned his back on you, but he has turned his face toward you.  God has promised that you will continue to be at peace with him for the coming year.  This peace flows into our daily lives no matter what troubles appear to threaten us in the year to come.

So now the next time and every time you hear this blessing pronounced over you, remember that the Lord has placed his name on you and promises to continue to give you material and spiritual gifts and protection, he promises to continue to show you his grace in his son Jesus Christ, and then also he promises to give you peace.  That is God’s promise.  It is not a prediction it is a guarantee of things in your future.

Amen.

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