A Triune Blessing from Our Triune God
2nd Sunday after Pentecost
A Triune Blessing from Our Triune God
Text: Numbers 6:22-27
It was the last day of sightseeing and the last sight to see. Thursday morning we woke the seventh and eight graders early to rush back into Washington D.C. to visit the final locations on our itinerary. We stopped first at the National Archives, but upon finding a line that wrapped around the building and that it opened an hour later in the spring and summer, we moved on to the next destination—the Holocaust Museum.
There we found a line even longer, nearly wrapped around the block. The tickets were going quickly. But by the time we got to the front of the line, we found that they had 13 tickets available for the last tour of the day at 4:30pm. We grabbed the tickets, rushed off to Annapolis for an amazing tour of the Naval Academy, and then hurried back to the Holocaust Museum for our final sight to see on our Discover America trip. And what a sight it was!
Put it down as a “must see” on your bucket list. Words can hardly describe how masterfully they have designed that museum to immerse you in those horrible times of world history.
The museum walks you through the formation and rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime. It describes the hunger for power and sickening racism that drove the Third Reich. Then suddenly the exhibits begin depicting how the Jews became the focal object of their horrific hatred.
The pictures and videos turn your stomach upside down. Walking into scale models of train cars and concentration camps leave you utterly speechless. Then you turn into one of the last exhibits of the museum—a room that has two massive piles of shoes worn by actual concentration camp captives. It’s enough to make the manliest men break down in tears.
We left the museum at closing time to return to our home for the last night. The normally bubbly and goofy seventh and eight graders were silent. Several had tears in their eyes. Others had blank stares of disbelief. One was literally trembling.
Every night on this trip we had an evening devotion with the students before bed. I don’t think they will forget Thursday’s evening devotion for a long time. I focused our thoughts that night on being thankful to God. Here these students are, traveling across the country for next to nothing, visiting some of the most incredible monuments, memorials, and museums in the world. Eight of the ten students had their own cell phone (one lost hers in D.C.!). The other two had iPods. Most of the cell phones were iPhones. They all have gigabytes worth of pictures and videos to keep forever. They had McDonalds and Burger King and pizza and soda any time they wanted. They wore “cool” and comfortable clothes and they slept in warm and comfortable beds at night.
In our devotion I compared that to the similarly aged children they saw at the museum who had absolutely nothing. They slept on the ground in freezing temperatures wearing prisoner clothing while many were separated from their families. They were herded into gas chambers only to have piles of them plowed into a pit by a bulldozer (That actually happened!).
For our last devotion we humbly discussed together that we have much to be thankful for. We would not have one blessing in life without the good and gracious will of our loving and compassionate God. Hopefully it was an experience that those ten students and we three adults will never forget.
Some three thousand years ago, God had the same intentions for his people. Those same Jewish people, the Israelites, also had horrific experiences in Egypt. They were used, abused, and driven to death as slaves to the Egyptians. Thus, when God brought them out of slavery and was leading them on to the Promised Land, they had much to be thankful for. Hopefully they would never forget how blessed they were by the good and gracious will of their loving and compassionate God.
So God gave to Moses and his brother Aaron the high priest a special blessing. This special blessing was to be a reminder for the people of who God is and what God does. This special blessing would remind them that the Lord—Yahweh, Jehovah, the loving and compassionate God—would always be with his people. This special blessing would remind them that the Lord is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit actively at work in their lives. This special blessing is A Triune Blessing from Our Triune God.
“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell Aaron and his sons, “This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: ‘The Lord bless you and keep you.’” (Part 1.) This first part of the blessing reminds us of the work of God the Father. He is our Maker and Preserver. He is the one who blesses us and keeps us.
The students came face to face with the greatness of God’s blessings at the Holocaust Museum. As Americans living in 2013, we have much to be thankful for. We have HDTVs and CDs and DVDs and MP3s and SUVs. We can use our phones to navigate with GPS through the tricky city streets of Washington D.C. We can upload pictures to Facebook to stay connected with friends and family across the globe. We can set the AC to the perfect temperature so that we are never too hot or too cold. We can get a drink of clean, cold water any time we want from our stainless steel refrigerator, and we can even choose cubed or crushed ice if we like. We have so much excess in our lives that someone in D.C. threw their iPad out their car window and drove off as it was landing at my feet.
Meanwhile there are people in the world, even in America, who are begging for money and food. There are people who are happy to find simply a warm place to sleep at night. A majority of this world is more concerned with keeping away malaria or AIDs and couldn’t dream of having so much that you would throw an iPad out of a moving car.
In the same way we have countless blessings in the provision and safety of our heavenly Father. Surely all of us have had some kind of near death or near disaster encounter in our lives in which God has kept us safe. There are hurricanes and earthquakes all over the globe. Terrible tornados touched down in Oklahoma last week. War still rages on in many parts of the world. But our eyes opened this morning on a comfortable pillow in the safety of a locked house in a country defended by countless dedicated military personnel.
We are worthy of none of the blessings which God the Father gives to us. We haven’t earned his favor. We don’t deserve these blessings more than anyone else in the world. We don’t deserve God’s good protection. But this we can do: We can be thankful that the Lord—Yahweh, Jehovah, the Father—blesses us and keeps us.
“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell Aaron and his sons, “This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: ‘The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you.’” (Part 2.) This second part of the blessing reminds us of the work of God the Son. Jesus is our Savior. He is the one who brought us the shining radiance of God’s undeserved love.
My sister called me this last week to share the good news. They are having another baby. What joy parents have in sharing that good news, announcing that they will soon have a new child! What joy parents have as they beam from ear to ear and look down on that new baby lying in the crib! What joy parents have as their face brightens up when they see their child getting a hit in little league, performing at a dance recital, or bringing home a good report card! They shower their children with love and affection.
Yet so great is the love of parents that even when the child breaks a lamp, drops the china, colors on the walls with permanent marker, brings home an “F” on a test, comes home after curfew, lies, slams doors, and acts rebellious—so great is the love of parents that even then they still love the child.
This is the essence and definition of the word grace. Grace is God’s undeserved love. What is it in our lives that has earned God’s love? What is it in our lives that has deserved God’s grace? Was it our foul mouths? Was it our angry hearts? Was it our self-centered actions? Was it our impure thoughts or jokes? Was it our spiritual laziness? Was it our God-less, thankless rebellion from the Lord?
What is it that we have done that deserves God taking human flesh to become like one of the creatures he created? What is it that deserves God enduring the scorn and shame of the cross? What is it that deserves our perfect and holy God carrying and paying for my pathetic sins? What is it that deserves God shedding blood and dying for what I have done? What is it that deserves our God looking down upon us, ignoring our sins in complete forgiveness, and then shining upon us with radiant love? What deserves this? Nothing. That is why it is called grace.
We are worthy of none of the blessings which God the Son has given to us. We haven’t earned forgiveness. We don’t deserve heaven. But this we can do: We can be thankful that the Lord—Yahweh, Jehovah, the Son, Jesus Christ—makes his face shine upon us and is gracious to us.
“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell Aaron and his sons, “This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: ‘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.’” (Part 3.) This third part of the blessing reminds us of the work of God the Holy Spirit. He is our Counselor, our Comforter, and our Guide.
When we returned Friday from our Discover America trip after 12 hours and 15 minutes on the road, there were a lot of relieved faces. Parents were comforted because their babies were returned safely to them (though we did consider leaving a few behind). Mrs. Loberger and the five Loberger children and Becky and my two children were relieved to see that daddy was back home. There was a certain amount of peace for everyone to be able to have and hold their loved ones.
Our good and gracious God is glad to give us comfort and peace on a daily basis. This is the work of God the Holy Spirit. He comes to us day in and day out through the Word of God to remind us that God is here, he loves us, he forgives us, he watches over us. Just as a parent wraps a child in a hug, so the Holy Spirit also works in Baptism to wrap us in forgiveness as the adopted children of God. (What a privilege that we saw that awesome work in action today!) Just as a parent continually gives reassurance of love through words and through affection, so the Holy Spirit also works in Communion through the words of Jesus and his true body and blood to reassure us of his love and affection.
Through the Word of God and through those two sacraments the Holy Spirit gives us comfort and peace. We can lay our heads down at night with a smile on our face and wake up in the morning with a pep in our step. We can work at our jobs with a calm comfort and we can live each day with a serene solace. Our God loves us. He is with us. We will be in heaven.
We are worthy of none of the blessings which God the Holy Spirit has given to us. We haven’t earned his powerful work in our lives. We don’t deserve his comfort and assurance. But this we can do: We can be thankful that the Lord—Yahweh, Jehovah, the Holy Spirit—turns his face toward us and gives us peace.
Some three thousand years ago God gave this blessing to his people first through Moses and Aaron and said, “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.” Some three thousand years later, God is still putting his name on his people and blessing them with the very same words.
Our triune God has given us a triune blessing to remind us of who he is and what he has done. He is the Lord—Yahweh, Jehovah—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He showers us with countless blessings, with safety and security every day. He shines upon us with the beaming brightness of his radiant love and grace. He turns his face toward us and gives us indescribable peace.
We have not earned or deserved the good and gracious will of our loving and compassionate God. But this we can do:
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise him all creatures here below;
Praise him above ye heavenly hosts;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Posted on May 28, 2013, in Church, Sermons and tagged Aaron, Aaronic Blessing, Blessing, Church, Father, Holocaust, Holocaust Museum, Holy Spirit, Jewish, Jews, Judaism, Moses, Numbers, Numbers 6, Sermons, Son, Three in One, Trinity, Triune, Washington D.C.. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.