Jesus welcomed the people, taught them about the Kingdom of God and healed those in need. Luke 9:11
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Seeds of the Kingdom

In God’s Presence

by Richard Griffiths

The Lord turn his face towards you and give you peace.
Numbers 6:26, NIV

This is the third and last line of the wonderful Aaronic (or priestly) blessing. The Jews always regarded numbers as significant. They would have noticed that the first line of the blessing has three words and twelve syllables; the second line, five words with fourteen syllables, and the third, seven words with sixteen syllables. It’s a kind of orchestral crescendo. Things just get better and better, bigger and bigger, richer and richer! And it ends with the greatest chord of all: peace – shalom.

In the previous line, God says that He wants His face to ‘shine’ on His people. But now He says that He wants to ‘turn’ His face towards us. The Hebrew word might be better translated as ‘lift up’. And it’s not just looking up instead of looking at the ground. The word is often used of lifting things up to carry them to another place. This is wonderful! What it says to me is that He doesn’t just look at me from a distance, He actually brings His face right up to where I am. He wants intimacy with every one of His children. And when we have this intimacy – this face-to-face relationship – we have peace.

Shalom. There is no single English word that can even begin to encompass what this means. Dictionaries give you hundreds of words for it. In the end, it is just this: a place of total security and personal fulfilment in the presence of God. It can be found nowhere else. No wonder Paul says that it ‘transcends all understanding’ (Philippians 4:7).

Each line of the blessing begins with ‘The Lord’. The Hebrew is ‘Yahweh’. The ‘Great I am’, the Creator and Ruler of the universe. Where else could you find true peace and security if not in the presence of such a God? Not that there are any other gods. He is the only God.

Imagine for a moment that you are standing in your bathroom. You’ve turned the shower on. You could just stand there and think, ‘What lovely warm water!’ But you won’t get any benefit from it unless you get under the shower. Everything in the Aaronic blessing, of which this is the climax, is available to anyone. But it doesn’t come to us automatically. We can read it, think about it, and talk about it; but we won’t get it without coming to the Giver. As soon as we take a step towards Him, He comes straight to us. As James says: ‘Come near to God and he will come near to you’ (James 4:8). And when we do, we’ll be blessed out of our socks!

Richard Griffiths When Richard retired from full-time Anglican ministry in Chichester in 2009, he and his wife, Sue, moved to Northumberland. He joined the ministry team at Ellel Grange in 2011, where he and Sue regularly ministered at healing retreats. They are now helping on the "Explore" team. They greatly enjoy walking in the beautiful Northumberland countryside and along the coast. Richard loves seeing God bringing people into a strong personal relationship with Him as their Father and the healing that comes with it.

 

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