Freedom, then peace
Torah Portion: Naso (Take) B’midbar (Numbers) 4:21-7:89
Haftorah Readings: Judges 13:2-25
Tonight we read and study the longest Torah portion of the year. It contains many subjects we could spend hours studying. However, tonight we will only look at two or three topics that I think will give all of us a deeper insight into spiritual principles that can help us in our life.
First, I want to start with Numbers 5:6-7. In these verses we read the process to be taken when we have sinned. In verse 7 we read, “Then they shall confess their sin which they have done.” Let’s talk about this for a moment. We are to speak out loud our confession to G-d. Why do we have to verbalize our words of remorse and confession of guilt before G-d? He knows our every thought and action. So why are we to speak it out loud? Maybe the point of speaking our confession out loud is for our own benefit. When we speak the words out loud they become more real to us, more intense. The sin is no long just in our memory but the words have been spoken. I believe when we speak the words out it cannot be easily swept under the rug. We can’t pretend it didn’t happen. The sin becomes more real to us. It causes us to consider just how we could have done such a thing. Our actions are out in the light. We can look at our actions more clearly.
So one of the main benefits or purposes of confession is to see ourselves more clearly. We face the fact we have lost our way. We have not only sinned against a person but also lost our way as a believer. We see the same process in Romans 10:9-10. There is power in the spoken word.
Now, I want us to look at the priestly blessing found in our portion in Numbers 6:24-26. This blessing is still in every synagogue in the world and several Christian denominations as well. I would like us to take each of these verses and look at the words used. I have given each of you a hand out with these three verses in both Hebrew and English. We will look at this as we work through the verses.
This blessing is one of only two prescribed blessings in the Torah. The other being part of the Passover story used every year found in Deut. 26:10-14. G-d is mentioned in each of the three verses as the source of the action taken. In the Israel museum in Jerusalem there is a small silver scroll dating from over 2,700 years ago that contains the priestly blessing exactly as I have given you today. This small silver scroll was rolled up and worn as a necklace by some wealthy person in Jerusalem. I mentioned this so you can understand the importance of these verses. They have inspired and comforted people for almost 3000 years.
Now, back to the verses themselves. I would like to look at each one separately and concentrate on the Hebrew words used in each verse. Think of what these verses mean to you. Let them speak to you tonight. First, verse 24, “The L-rd bless you and keep you.” When you look at the Hebrew on your sheet you will see this is the shortest of the three verses. In fact, you will see that each verse builds on the one before. In each verse G-d’s holy name is mentioned as the one doing the action. So here in the first verse we read G-d’s intention is to bless us. That blessing may take many forms such as strength to get through a difficult time. G-d’s promises His comfort and nearness. The important thing is G-d’s desire is to bless us. We have no need to seek the blessing of men or anything else. The Ruler of the universe wants to bless us and not only bless us but to watch over us, promising to never leave us. The word used here is to guard us, to protect us. So, in those three short words much is promised.
Verse 25 increases to five words, where again G-d’s name is used as the source of what follows. “The L-rd makes His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.” How wonderful it is that G-d’s face shines upon us. We read in scripture what happens when G-d hides His face from us. In Ezekiel 39:22-27 we read what happens when G-d hides His face and also what happens when He restores the relationship that had been broken. The time when G-d shines His face upon us is put beautifully in the last word of the Hebrew in verse 25. When G-d is shining His face upon us, He smiles. The relationship between us and the Father is unbroken and He smiles.
Finally in verse 26 we reach the climax of these blessings. G-d will pay attention to you. He will look at you and show you mercy and grace. The result of which will be peace. Peace like no other, deep enduring peace between G-d and each of us. G-d will grant you peace. The Hebrew word for peace is shalom. It means deep abiding peace in our lives, a wholeness of our relationship with the Father.
So wrapped up in these three verses are some of the deepest promises of G-d to His people, to His children. I would ask you to meditate on these verses and let the words feed your soul and spirit. Our father loves us!
One last thought, in Numbers 6:1-21 talks about the Nazarite vow. Do you know anyone in scripture who took the Nazarite vow? Here are a few verses that will give you answers. Judges 13:4-5, I Samuel 1:11, Luke 1:15 and Acts 18:18, Acts 21:23-26.