The Lord commands Moses to communicate a three-fold blessing to His people.
“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” (Numbers 6:24-25).
The blessing is directed to the entire congregation, rather than to any individual. It consists of three parts. The first phrase of each blessing announces God’s good intentions toward His people; and the second clause declares the benefit each blessing.
“The LORD bless and keep you.” - Bless (material wealth) and keep (protection from all that could oppose fullness of life). The Lord’s disposition toward His people is one of love, benevolence, and generosity. He is obligating Himself to the good welfare of His people.
“The LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you.” - Make His face to shine (indicative of pleasure) and be gracious (unmerited favor). The Lord’s temperament toward His people is one of joy and pleasure. Israel has God’s full and undivided attention. He moves toward them to show them unmerited favor.
“The LORD turn His face toward you and give you peace.” Lift up his face (an act of intimacy and affection) and give you peace. His love promises to overcome any hostility (cf. Lev. 26:40) His people may present to Him.
God’s name upon Israel was their honor, their comfort, their safety, their identity, and the assurance of God’s covenantal relationship with them. He is not ashamed to be called their God.
Who God is for Israel is who He is for His church. Benevolent. Protective. Intimate. Like Israel, the church is blessed by God and blessed for God.
He is good. He only does good.
Selah’s song communicates the precious truth of God’s love for His people:
"Then the LORD said to Moses, "Speak to the Israelites and say to them: 'If a man's wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him by sleeping with another man, and this is hidden from her husband and her impurity is undetected (since there is no witness against her and she has not been caught in the act), and if feelings of jealousy overcome her husband and he suspects his wife and she is impure—or if he is jealous and suspects her even though she is not impure—then he . . . " (Numbers 5:11-15a)
Can you imagine being at the mercy of a husband's jealousy and suspicion when you've not committed adultery—especially when your life is on the line, since the punishment for adultery is death? How do you prove that you are innocent?
In order to prevent women from being killed or punished because of jealousy or suspicion, without any proof of adultery, the Lord provided a way to test a woman's veracity. Imagine with me how nasty the tabernacle floor must have been as general dust mixed with the blood droppings from the various sacrifices. Add holy water to this and require the woman drink it. One of two things will happen: nothing or her abdomen will swell and her thigh waste away. Researchers conclude that guilty people produce stress enzymes which will interact with the concoction and will sicken the guilty person. Those who are innocent won't produce those enzymes and will therefore remain unaffected by the drink.
So, what does this mean for men? It means that men motivated by feelings of jealousy must be careful before they make any unmerited accusations. And what does this mean for women? Innocent women don't have to worry about being falsely accused and then punished. They can drink the concoction without fear. Guilty women, however, need to be very afraid!
This regulation protects women from baseless accusations. And this regulation teaches man that he must guard against acting on feelings alone; he must be very careful before he accuses his wife of adultery. Any accusations made must be made based upon facts/evidence. So this regulation is both weird and wonderful.
Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
What does the numbering teach about individuals?
Why does the Lord require that those with infectious diseases be quarantined outside of the camp?
What does adding the one-fifth to the restitution teach about sin?
What purpose does the Nazarite vow serve?
Why does the Lord require those taking the Nazarite vow to do certain outward things?
What does this blessing teach Israel about God? About the Levites/priests?(Numbers 6:24-26)
Turning truth into prayer:
Ask the Lord to make you more aware of when you accuse or judge someone falsely based upon feelings alone and to help you live a life free of suspicion toward others.