St. John’s EBCs, Everyday Bible Conversations!
EXTRA for the week of March 23rd
Always Time for a Blessing Reading: Numbers 6:22-27
Hello again from EBC EXTRA! At the start of this week, we continue our look at the “in-between” times. Many of you know the story of Moses, the ten plagues, Passover, the parting of the Red Sea, and God delivering Israel from slavery and out of Egypt. It took the Israelites about three months to get to the Wilderness of Sinai, where they set up camp in front of Mt. Sinai, the mountain on which God spoke to Moses, and from which God gave Moses the ten commandments. In the next 40 years, the Israelites camped and traveled in the wilderness.
At this point in Israelite history, there could hardly have been a people more obviously and physically blessed and aided by God. Despite God’s demonstrable presence and intercession, however, Exodus and Numbers are filled with the ebb and flow of Israel’s faith and obedience. God delivers law, and the people follow for a time, but then, as hardships mount, they forget God’s gifts. Doubt and fear lead to disobedience. God’s response is sometimes wrathful, but also oftentimes God grants renewed deliverance. And the ebb and flow continues.
Do you feel any connection to this “in-between” time of the Israelites in the wilderness? Perhaps you feel our current circumstances – uncertain though they are –pale too much in comparison to the hardships of the Israelites for us to feel good about connecting. But in the midst of what may seem (and literally is) ancient history, 3,300 years ago, Numbers 6 recounts this amazing direction straight from God:
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the Israelites: You shall say to them:
The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.
So they shall put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them. (Numbers 6:22-27)
Do you feel the connection now? In the midst of any hardship, big or small, God assures us – indeed directs us – to declare that we are blessed. And we are! God’s intimate, physical presence with the people of Israel follows us to this day in this familiar benediction.
An Action Step:
Gather your family or your friends by phone call, skype, zoom, or whatever. Say the benediction, and believe that God has put his name on you!