Category Archives: Aaronic Blessing

Whispers of peace

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons to bless the people of Israel with this special blessing: ‘May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. may the Lord show you his favour and give you his peace.’

(Numbers 6.22-26)

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on my behalf…then at last his fellow countrymen will return from exile to their own land. And he will stand to lead his flock with the Lord’s strength, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. Then his people will live there undisturbed, for he will be highly honoured around the world. And he will be the source of peace.

(Micah 5.2-5)

Our world has been tormented and scarred by warfare and disharmony between individuals and nations ever since the beginning; we are incapable of living peaceably together. But the kind of peace which is being promised all through the bible narrative is much more than simply that absence of conflict for which we long. The Hebrew word which we translate as peace, is ‘shalom’, and it has a much richer meaning including a sense of completion; health; thriving and fulfillment. All the barriers to fullness of life will be gone, and every created being will be able to rejoice without fear or restriction in what and who God made them to be.

The story of how the people of Israel should have entered and conquered the land promised to them is for us a picture of the unfettered, fruitful living which God desires for all his children. If the people had obeyed and driven out all the nations living in the land, they would indeed have dwelt in peace, receiving all the blessing God intended for them. Instead they compromised, chose to live alongside the other nations, and in time, were led away from worship of the living God into idolatry, with its disastrous consequences of destruction and exile. It is a warning to us to be aware of those things in our lives which we know pull us away from God, and which we yet cherish. Where then will our peace go?

This side of the winding up of time, we cannot hope for complete peace, the power and consequences of sin in our broken world are too much present. But as followers of Jesus we can trace this promise of peace, of wholeness and freedom to thrive, with confidence that it ¬†applies to us. We live between the first coming of the one who – as Micah said – is the ‘source of our peace’, and his triumphant return, when all the opposing forces will be finally swept away.

In his letter to the Roman church – which experienced appalling persecution and had little hope of ‘peace’ in the sense of being free from assault – Paul writes these incredible words:

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.

(Romans 5.1-4)

We have peace, that freedom from grinding fear, because we are already regarded by God as right with him – no longer at enmity with him – all through Christ’s redeeming work on the cross. None of the the things that ultimately matter can be damaged or stolen from us – our Saviour has made us secure for ever and we will share God’s glory.

And not one of the difficulties which yet lie ahead, or which have dogged our lives for years, can undermine that peace. In fact, Paul seems to be saying that because we are safe in Christ, our very difficulties can be received as sources of blessing because God is at work through them to make us more like Christ – more like the glorious original he had in mind when he conceived us!

We need not worry, or fret that our struggles or sufferings will endanger our relationship with God because NOTHING can do that, and so we can accept each one with a peaceful heart. What a wonderful reason for celebration as we look forward to celebrating again the birth of the Prince of Peace, and praying once more with fervour for his speedy return!

Daily blessings

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them.

Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy; they will sing before the Lord, for he comes…

(Ps 96.11&12)

I have a great delight in trees, and my family and friends are accustomed to my stopping in the middle of a conversation to point out some particular specimen of notable colour, size or shape. Do you ever stop to consider how wonderful it is that God designed one of our primary sources of oxygen, in this way?! These amazing plants can live for hundreds of years, reach high into the sky, weigh hundreds of tons, and as well as being very efficient in recycling carbon dioxide, they are beautiful! God is such a marvellous designer, never sacrificing the form of his creations to their function, and so often leaving us in awe at the multitude of ways he varies the basic form to produce new patterns and structures! In every way, our trees testify to the greatness of their maker, they give glory to him who imagined and realised them, and continually direct our thoughts to worship and give thanks.

Living in a land where there are four distinct seasons is an extra blessing where appreciation of our trees are concerned! In winter, we can rejoice in the forms and patterns created by bare branches and trunks; in spring, the fresh greens take our breath away, and the delicate new leaves enchant us; in summer, the great heavy canopy of green provides welcome shade – from sun or summer showers! – and then comes autumn, like the triumphant conclusion to a great symphony, as the colours riot across the spectrum and the winds scatter the leaves across the streets and parks to create vast carpets of bronze and gold.

I was privileged recently to spend a day on the hills in Deeside with a friend; it was a perfect day, with not a breath of wind, not a cloud in the sky, and the sun hot on our backs. We rejoiced in the strength we needed to climb the hills, the eyes which enabled us to see the panorama of hills, the ears to hear the stags rutting across the glen, and thanked God for so many gifts poured into our lives all in one short day. And as we returned to our car, there came what felt like a special extra blessing.. We were standing among tall birches, motionless and silent, reluctant to leave this glory, when there was a slight rustling sound, and a few birch leaves fell around us – flakes of golden bronze, fluttering down gently to our feet. It was like a benediction, like the kiss which a fond parent gives a beloved child at the end of a long happy day, and we were overflowing with quiet joy.

I believe in a God of justice; a God who cannot live with the blight of sin and who will one day wipe it out of his creation for ever, making all things new, so that the little taste of heaven which I had that day will blossom into a whole new life, beautiful beyond my imagination.

I believe that I will have a home in that perfect place not because of my own efforts after holy living, but because in Jesus, I have one who has made me clean, and through whom I have a certain hope of deliverance from death.

I believe that this God, who loves me through Jesus, loves me as a beloved child, knows me intimately and has made me to know and delight in him. He has revealed his love through Jesus, but every day in so many ways, he chooses to give me personal assurances of his love. The trees are one of the ways that I often feel my Father’s loving touch and hear his song of love – but for each of us it will be different! He knows your heart, and knows how to nourish your spirit if you will let him. The words of the blessing spoken by Aaron over the people of Israel tell of God’s face shining upon his children – glowing like that of a loving father who is filled with delight simply in the presence of his own. Let this light and warmth bring great comfort and strength to our own spirits, grounding us securely in our faithful God.

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 towards you and give you peace.

(Numbers 6.25)