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022 - Achoo, God Bless You

More Than Ink / Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin
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December 26, 2020 1:00 pm

022 - Achoo, God Bless You

More Than Ink / Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin

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You pick up your Bible and wonder, is there more here than meets the eye?

Is there something here for me? I mean, it's just words printed on paper, right? Well, it may look like just print on a page, but it's more than ink. Join us for the next half hour as we explore God's Word together, as we learn how to explore it on our own, as we ask God to meet us there in its pages.

Welcome to More Than Ink. Bless you! Oh, thanks! Why do we say that? What does that mean anyway? And we just say, God bless you, real lightly.

What does that mean? Does that have any real importance in our lives or just happy talk? What is blessing? Let's find out what blessing is today.

What does the scripture say today on More Than Ink? Well, good morning on this wonderful Saturday after Christmas. It is the day after Christmas. Yeah, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. And now you're kicking back and resting in a slower pace in this holiday season.

So with that slower pace in mind, here we are sitting around the kitchen table with our coffees, and we'll talk about something a little bit slower than the hecticness of Christmas. And it's been a very different kind of Christmas season, hasn't it? A lot of the social events that we've been accustomed to haven't happened. And perhaps you didn't even meet with your family yesterday or the day before.

Excuse me. And so it's been a season of contemplation for me personally, I think. So we're going to turn our attention today to something that maybe you haven't thought about much, and that is the blessing, the season of God's favor that comes to us in Christ. And it seems that this is a good thing to kind of wrap up 2020 and turn forward into 2021 with this passage. So we're not going to talk about Christmas? Well, actually, we sort of will.

Oh, okay. Well, why don't you take us from Christmas to where we're going today? Well, and before I do that, I'm sure that many of you have heard that song that just swept the internet in the middle of the year called The Blessing that was based on this number six passage, The Lord Bless You and Keep You. And I think the reason that that thing lit fire the way it did is because we just had this sense of needing to know that God was seeing us. Yeah, we were shut in.

Yeah. And so since we are, we're still, you know, your Christmas tree is still up and your lights are probably still lit and you're still cleaning up the debris if you are a gift-giving family. I want to start this morning with the angels' message to the shepherds. Remember when the angels appeared, they said to the shepherds, glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace among men. Your translation probably says with whom he is pleased, but it really says peace among men on whom his favor rests. God has given something that has said he is favorably disposed toward humankind.

And that's the same thing he said to Mary, right? You found favor with God. I am disposed favorably toward him. Not a word we use in that context. You talk about favor, about giving someone a favor.

You owe me a favor. If you get a good gift, then you're in their good favors. But this is in a broader, more pure sense. This is in the context of the best gift of all, right? When Jesus opened his ministry, and both Mark and Luke talk about this, when Jesus was in Nazareth and the first time he opened the scroll in public to read, he read from Isaiah 61, which says, The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because he's anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He's sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden and to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord. So Jesus is saying, God the Father has sent me to make his favor toward you known. And what a good deal that is to be in God's favor, be in his good favor.

Oh my gosh, yes. And that was his announcement from Isaiah 61. Yeah, the season of the Lord's favor. So that's kind of where we want to start today with understanding that we in Christ are living in the favor of God.

He has opened this whole new season when he has given himself to us. And so that's going to pull us from Christmas into this blessing from way back in Numbers 6, which I'm sure you all are familiar with it. Numbers 6. Numbers 6. And you know, I was reading Numbers this week, and this blessing kind of feels out of place in Numbers.

It very much is. Because Numbers is sort of like, well of course it's called Numbers because if you start reading Numbers, all they're doing is counting people. They're counting people and they're enumerating services. And they've just recently gotten out of Egypt.

They're in the Sinai, they're not even in the land next to Israel, they're in the Sinai. And they're just sorting themselves out, really. And in the sorting out, they have to find out how many people there are. They need to figure out how they're going to run a tabernacle with a Levite, all that kind of stuff.

So they're in the midst of really just sort of getting their act together. So Numbers is all about kind of forming how we're going to live life from day to day, now that we're out here in the desert, and we're out of Egypt, and whose responsibilities, blah blah blah blah blah. And God had already said to them, back in Exodus and in Leviticus, listen, I'm your God, you're my people, you're going to be known by my name, and I'm going to dwell in your midst. And so this blessing comes as He gives it to Aaron, who is the high priest, who is His representative, essentially, along with Moses, God's mouthpiece, and He mediates the covenant between the people and God.

Yeah, and so in the midst of five previous chapters, almost five and a half, of housekeeping, in a sense, housekeeping of living in the desert where God is King, this little thing pops in to encourage them. So let's just read the blessing, and I want you who are listening, listen for what's repeated here, because there are some repeated ideas, and that's a good study skill, listen for what's repeated. So, beginning in number 622, Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to Aaron and to his sons. So that means this is in perpetuity, this is a continual blessing, not just Aaron, but on and on. Thus you shall bless the sons of Israel, you shall say to them, The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up His countenance on you and give you peace. And so they, Aaron and his sons, shall invoke my name on the sons of Israel, and then I will bless them.

How nice. Well, you know, that begs the question, what is a blessing? It's a blessing, yeah. Because sometimes we just mean as pretty words to make you feel better.

Right, right. But biblically, that is not what a blessing is. It is the speaking of God's words, God's intent. Speaking of God's good intent for us. To communicate His good heart, His good will for us.

It speaks peace and truth from an eternal point of view, from an eternal perspective. Yeah, and in fact, I always like blessed because it not only is speaking His heart's intent to us, but in a way it's almost like a promise. It's almost like a promise saying, I am seeking for your good, and I'm blessing you by telling you this is what I'm all about. I'm telling you what my heart's all about. So in a way it's kind of a preview into what God is going to do based on His words to us. It's a blessing. Yeah, and in Leviticus 26 he had already said to them, listen, my soul will not reject you.

I want to dwell in your midst and be among you. So this is a statement of what that means for them in a very practical sense. Yeah, and you know, it's going to be extraordinarily practical in the next couple chapters because they're going to be meeting up with some really difficult things after they leave Sinai here.

I mean, there's going to be grumbling, there's going to be bad guys. I mean, there's going to be a lot of stuff that's going to make them question, well, is God really out for our good or actually quoting what they say a little bit later, or did He just bring us out here to die? So this blessing is a really big deal because through it they can remind themselves that, no, God is on your side and He is intent on bringing you good.

You need to keep this in your head despite what's going to happen and despite how you're tempted to think God's actually evil. And it hadn't been very long since God had revealed Himself by this name to Moses. It was just before Moses went back to Egypt to proclaim, you know, let my people go, let my son go to Pharaoh. Yeah, and the timeline here, it says that we're just barely into the second year after leaving Egypt.

So things are very fresh. And everyone's hot memory is the parting of the red sea. They're still figuring out who is this God and what does it mean to be His people. He sprung us out of Egypt, but now what's life like now that we're in the desert and the only thing we have on our side is God.

It's just sand, it's just death. So if Jesus our Savior, we've just celebrated His birth, came to set freedom, set free the captives, and came to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, the season of God's favor, then at this time of year we should be contemplating, what does that mean that I have entered the season of God's favor? Am I living in the day when God's attitude towards me in Christ is favorable? Yeah, and we've just been going through 2020 and in about a week or so we'll hit New Year's and we will be freed from 2020, but 2021?

Well, not really. Not any great promises is going to be much better just because we flipped the calendar, but the big deal is God has shown His favor toward us and He's not abandoned us. So our high priest, who we know from the New Testament is Jesus, speaks to us the words of God.

Now, what did you hear repeated when I read that? These three giant statements and they each begin with the Lord. Well, if you are looking at your text, the Lord, Lord, L-O-R-D, is all in capital letters, and that tells you, as we've said before, that is the proper name of God. That's Yahweh or Jehovah, as we say it in English, meaning the I Am. I Am, the present one. Really, not the impersonal God, but the present personal God who is. He's the source of all being, which is what Yahweh means. Do you want to step through the verses here?

Yeah, let's do that. Because there's some real jewels in the midst of this, which are not apparent when you just read it in English, some great stuff. It starts off nicely so with the Lord, the coming and keeping God. Yes, and kind of where I'm coming at this from is to point out how all of this blessing points to Jesus, the I Am in the flesh, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, John says. So the Lord, Yahweh, the I Am, bless you and keep you. So He blesses you.

What is a blessing? And we already talked about that a little bit, but keeping, that is a glorious word that shows up all over the Old Testament to keep. And when we run across that word applied to us, we're told to keep His covenant, keep His commandments, but it's the Hebrew word Shemar, which God keeps here. And so its primary, first primary meaning isn't always to obey, it's to guard, to put a hedge around, to keep as precious.

So the Lord, the I Am who's with you, blesses you. He stoops to bring favor to you, and He is keeping you. He's preserving you as precious. He has His eye on you.

He told them in Leviticus, you are my precious own possession. Yeah, and you know what it makes me think of from Lord of the Rings? My precious.

My precious. But you know when you see those scenes where he's actually just, he's got this ring in his hands and he's treasuring it, he's holding it, he's keeping it. That's exactly what this word is.

That's what this is. He's keeping it. So he's not actually obeying the ring, he's keeping the ring because it's so precious. Because it's precious and he's watching over it. It's a perfect application of what he's talking about here. The Lord is intent on blessing you, bringing good to you.

And guess what? When it comes to you, He is keeping you. He's got you like that in the palm of His hands and He says you're mine and I'm not letting go. Yeah, so if you haven't had that coming through 2020, that deep sense that God, the I Am, the ever present, eternal one is with you and keeping you as precious. He's holding on to you. And He has a benevolent intention toward you, then this can be a good turning place for you as you kind of bring closure to 2020 and look forward to 2021.

The Lord blesses you. Yeah, and the word's also used when you talk about guarding a prison. The guards watch it closely and they make sure that outside influences can't influence what's going on. So God in a real sense too is also the one that's not only holding you in the palm of His hands like a treasure, but He's also guarding you.

He's guarding you to make sure that outside influences don't change that. And keeping. If you are a zoo keeper, what are you doing?

You're caring for the animals, you are feeding them and watching over them. Yeah. So God. God does this out of love for us. And blessing you and keeping you.

That is a great promise going into an unknown year from a crazy year. Okay. And the next big statement, the Lord Yahweh, the I Am, the eternal one, makes His face shine on you. That's not something we normally say.

Okay. What's with the shining face? What's with the shining on you? What's with the shining face? Well, Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 4 that the glory of God is seen in the face of Christ.

You can track that down. In 2 Corinthians 4, I'm thinking it's around six or seven. The glory of God is seen in the face of Christ. Tosses about God who said, light shall shine out of darkness is the one who's shown in our hearts to give the light, the knowledge of glory of God in the face of Christ. So God's shining face is shown fully to us in Christ. So it's just knowing who God is? Well, no, it's seeing the light of who He is directed toward us. And His grace poured out toward us in Christ.

Remember John 1 says, and the word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory. Right, right. Yeah, there's another aspect of this too, which we lose because we don't have kings. But say you're out there in the burbs just growing your corn and you get this sermon that says the king wants to face you. That comes up actually in the next verse, but go ahead.

It does. But the king wants to face you. So the whole idea is being brought into his presence and you are face to face. And that kind of metaphor is used a lot in scriptures about being face to face with God. And many times that comes when we talk about judgment. I mean, are you ready to meet him face to face, face to face? I'm nothing between you, just you and God.

Right, right. So here it carries a little bit of that in this opening mention of this face. But it really means being in a full exposure to who God is and who you are face to face. And the shining face, right? When did Jesus' face shine?

Well, on the Mount of Transfiguration. The Gospels tell us that His face shone. Well, we also know that Moses' face also shone, and when did that happen? After he had been in the face to face presence with God. So there's this idea of the glory of God being reflected in the face of the one who communicates him.

Yeah, but now let's apply that. What does that mean for right now that we can live in the presence of the face of God shining on us? Well, the text says the Lord makes His face shine on you and is gracious to you. And so that shining of the face has to do with His light pouring out on us. He pours out on us His grace to us in Christ. Paul says that's an indescribable gift. And John 1, here I just had it open, says again, for of His fullness, John 1 16, of His fullness we have all received and grace upon grace. God is just pouring out of His own goodness.

Not anything we could earn or merit or deserve. Yeah, so what I really love about this verse is that God's the one who's taking the initiative to come near to you so that you'll be in full exposure to who He is. Right, face to face. He is taking that initiative to be in your face with His face and in doing so. And that process of Him coming to you and revealing Himself to you, that's the shining part.

Right. It's like when the sun, this is usually the sun rising too, the sun's hidden at night and it rises, remember we talked about Zacharias' comments, it rises. So in this sense, this is all God taking the initiative to come into your presence and we'll be in each other's presence and we'll be face to face and the purpose of this face to face shining upon us is grace, what we don't deserve. And the beautiful picture actually of the sun coming over the mountain and the light striking you in the face, you feel the warmth of it.

There's a very tactile sense. Yeah, so in reality here in the history of the position here, Moses is telling Aaron to tell the people, look, we're going off into the unknown as far as you're concerned, but I'm asking that God will reveal Himself in a personal, face to face, unencumbered, nothing between you style so that He can demonstrate His grace towards you. Well, and the priest, Aaron, is not even asking this.

He's just telling the people. This is the condition of God toward you. His face is toward you, His sunshine, the light of His presence is toward you and He will pour out His grace on you. And this is in contradiction to the ancient pagan ideas of God who's distant and uninvolved.

This is exactly the opposite. This is near and very involved for our good. Okay, well that takes us into the next verse. The Lord, Yahweh, the I Am, the one who's with you, lifts up His countenance on you and establishes you in peace.

Here's this idea of the near presence, the near face-to-faceness of this one who's showing you favor. Well, because this word countenance is the same word as face. Okay, but this is to lift up your countenance on somebody means to look on them with favor, but to draw them near into an eyeball to eyeball encounter. Yeah, because this word lift is one of the few I remember in Hebrew because it's the word NASA.

I used to work for NASA, but it's actually pronounced NASA. But it's to lift up because I always think of rockets lift up. But it's more interesting than just lifting up. But there's places where basically someone, when they acknowledge someone else, they lift up their eyes and it's the same word. They lift up their eyes. So there's a little bit of acknowledgement involved here and honor in a way. So when this guy comes near, he lifts up his eyes toward us.

This is what he's doing. He's lifting up his face toward us. He's lifting up his face toward us, inviting us into relationship with him, which is why when Paul says we see the glory of God in the face of Christ. Remember Jesus said to the disciples on that last night, Philip said, Lord, show us the Father and we'll be happy. And he said, haven't you got it yet? If you've seen me, you've seen the Father.

You've looked in the face of God if you've seen me. And this is what God's intention is, is to raise up his face toward us. Actually that preposition at the end of the sentence is really important. When it says on, on you, that on is a real on. I mean it's like, I remember looking this up a long time ago and realizing that when you look at the story of Jacob and he's off in Laban's area and he's with Rachel and Leah and as they're getting ready to leave, that he uses this word on to talk about getting his wives and his children onto the donkeys. So this is actually a lift up to place on. To place on. So his intimate presence, his face, he is lifting up, he's lifting his eyes towards us so he can place it on us.

Well that's what makes the second half of this sentence so beautiful. He says, and give you peace, your translation says, but what that give you means to establish is literally to put something somewhere. This God lifts up his countenance upon you and places you into peace. Shalom. Shalom. Not just the absence of hostility, but the presence of deep well-being and satisfaction.

That's a very broad term. Broad term, I mean it includes lack of hostilities for one, but that's just the start here. I mean it's about wholeness and wellness and completeness, our welfare, our prosperity, our contentment, all these things basically, if you want to talk about living a whole and full life, that's what shalom is. So what did Jesus say about peace? He said, I give you peace that the world can't take away. I give you peace that you can have in the face of tribulation. I will establish peace for you. Ephesians 2, I want to jump there for a minute because this is such a beautiful statement when Paul says, he himself is our peace.

He's our peace. Now starting in verse 2 of Ephesians, well Ephesians 2, I'll start in verse 13, but now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ for he himself is our peace. Because we've been brought near. We've been brought near.

And that's what this is all talking about. By the blood of Christ. This is the face shining upon us. And Romans 5, 1 says we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. So the peace that we're talking about is peace with God, which then will yield in us through his Holy Spirit peace with humankind.

We all love at Christmas time to hear that. Oh, the song of the angels was peace, right? His gospel is peace from songs that we sing.

But his gospel is peace with God, which then will yield peace with other human beings. But it's God's intention to establish us and stand us, root us in that deep well-being, that shalom, that only comes in right relationship with him. You can probably say, biblically speaking, there is no shalom apart from God.

No, that's correct. So many times people think, well, just show me a God who will just dump a truckload of shalom in my life and I'll be good with that and we'll move on. But the idea is that being in the nearness of God is exactly what results in that shalom. God is not separate from the effects in our lives.

But that's what he does. Like when Jesus talks about the good and bad shepherd, he says, you know, the bad shepherd comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but the good shepherd, me, comes to bring life and to bring it abundantly. And that's what this shalom word is. It's abundant life that comes in relationship with God, with the one who lifts his face upon us.

Yeah, it's a great picture. And he has done that for us in Jesus, the one whose birth we've just celebrated. So, you know, this blessing was given to Aaron as the representative, the high priest, but in perpetuity through all of his sons. And we know that that high priesthood was fulfilled in Christ as Hebrews unpacks for us so beautifully. He is the better priest. He administers a better covenant based on better promises because he always lives to intercede for us. So if you take your book of Hebrews, and you can just do this by thumbing through and watch for all the places that the writer of Hebrews says, Jesus is our high priest, he's a better one, and here's why.

He's going to make it happen. And so it really helps us redefine when someone says the trite phrase, Prince of Peace. Right. Prince of Shalom, that doesn't just mean mindless, numbed-out living.

It means fullness of life. And he is the one who establishes it. And since he's the prince, he makes it happen. He has authority over it. Right. And so he says that the peace that I give you, the world can't take away.

Well, that's a good segue into next week. Because, well, we should mention just to complete it, in 2070, he says, You shall invoke my name on the sons of Israel. So it's all these things about the nearness of God in invoking his name, which is important.

I identify them as my people, known as the people of the God who is. The reminder of who he is. And so next week, we're going to look at a couple of guys who had forgotten who God was, who were just walking in their despair and figured that maybe God had forgotten or messed up something in the plan for this fullness of life. And what they expected to happen didn't happen.

It did not happen. We had hope, because I always quote that phrase. So we're going to look at these two guys who were walking away from Jerusalem, dejected after the death of Jesus. And three days have transpired, and Jesus has not shown up.

And they're dejected. So maybe if you're walking out of 2020, dejected, wondering. What you expected didn't happen. It didn't happen, and you wonder if it ever will happen, and you wonder whether God will be the Prince of Peace in your life.

You might be overwhelmed by your thoughts on the circumstances and forget about the fact. You need to invoke the name of God like Aaron was supposed to do with the people of Israel so that when things get tough, you remember there is a God who's lifted his countenance upon us. Remember what God has said. So maybe that'll be a hopeful thing to talk about as we come in after New Year's next week. So look at Luke 24 for next week. So I'm Jim.

And I'm Dorothy. And we're just delighted you've been with us, and we hope you join us next week for a new look into 2021 out of the Scriptures. So we'll see you next week. Next week. Bye. Bye. More Than Ink is a production of Main Street Church of Brigham City and is solely responsible for its content. To contact us with your questions or comments, just go to our website, … too much for a ramble.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-11 01:42:07 / 2024-01-11 01:53:51 / 12

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