As we have been adventuring through the Bible together it has been difficult to preach all the sermons that are available in each book of the Bible. Recently, having preached from Numbers it was difficult to narrow the message down to just one major focus and ignore so much of the great material in the rest of the book. I was particularly impressed by a familiar portion of the book that I was forced to exclude from my sermon. At the end of Numbers 6 the Lord gives instructions to the priests of Israel. The instruction is to bless the people of Israel with a specific blessing, and by pronouncing this blessing on the people the Lord says the priests will put the name of the Lord upon the people of Israel, and He will bless them.
My mind wandered immediately to the New Testament theme of the priesthood of all believers as I considered this passage. Peter says, in 1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” In this passage Peter is encouraging gentile Christians to be so holy they look marvelous to the world around them, and he gives them the responsibility of being royal priests, mediating between God and the world. Peter’s understanding was that priests were models of holiness to everyone they came into contact with. Priests were the ones who mediated between God and people, but they were so holy in their own right that a person would feel closer to God by just having a conversation on the street with a priest.
I believe these words from Peter are for Christians today. We are called to be priests, so holy that people feel like they are encountering God when they hang out with us. I also believe the Lord a major expectation for the priests in Numbers 6 when he tells them to bless others. Christians should be about blessing others, and as it turns out Numbers 6 offers us a great example of the type of blessing we should give:
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.
And the promise comes with this blessing from the Lord himself: “So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”