A Triune Blessing from Our Triune God

2nd Sunday after Pentecost

A Triune Blessing from Our Triune God

Text: Numbers 6:22-27

Intro

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.

I.

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.

II.

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.

III.

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.

Conclusion

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.

AMEN

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About Pastor Phil Huebner

Pastor. Missionary. Principal. Husband. Father. Serving in love as each. http://www.ctkpalmcoast.com

Posted on May 28, 2013, in Church, Sermons and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. The Holocaust was truly terrible.
    You can thank Martin Luther for a large part of that.

    • That is a very wrong and misinformed comment.

      • I fully expected you to try to explain away or justify how Luther’s writings greatly influenced the Holocaust, but I don’t expect you not to bother to cite any facts in favour of your argument. That just makes it considerably easier.

        Let’s take a look at what Luther said about the Jews towards the end of his life, not only in ‘On the Jews and Their Lies,” but elsewhere.

        They are ” a base, whoring people, that is, no people of God, and their boast of lineage, circumcision, and law must be accounted as filth.”

        “[w]e are at fault in not slaying them”

        “Set fire to their synagogues or schools,”

        “Prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing, and blasphemy are taught, [should] be taken from them.”

        “safe-conduct on the highways [should] be abolished completely for the Jews,”

        “All cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them.”

        Besides burning their synagogues and killing them, the seven measures of sharp mercy Luther commanded were very clear. (1) burn their schools and synagogues; (2) transfer Jews to community settlements; (3) confiscate all Jewish literature, which was blasphemous; (4) prohibit rabbis to teach, on pain of death; (5) deny Jews safe-conduct, so as to prevent the spread of Judaism; (6) appropriate their wealth and use it to support converts and to prevent the lewd practice of usury; (7) assign Jews to manual labor as a form of penance.

        Luther also lied about the intent of Christ when he quoted Christ’s admonishment against the brood of vipers. While most Christians consider this to be a warning against the Pharisiees, Luther preached that Christ was referring to the entire Jewish people.

        In his second to last sermon, he continued his lies:
        “If they could kill us all, they would gladly do it. They do it often, especially those who pose as physicians—though sometimes they help—for the devil helps to finish it in the end. They can also practice medicine as in French Switzerland. They administer poison to someone from which he could die in an hour, a month, a year, ten or twenty years. They are able to practice this art.”

        Now, burning synagogues, killing Jews, destroying businesses and stealing wealth, Luther’s plan was followed to the letter during the Kristallnacht, which was held on Luther’s birthday in his honour.

        Now, legitimate historians (i.e. not Lutherans) have reached a prevailing consensus that Luther’s writings were greatly responsible for the existence of antisemitism in Germany during the 1930’s. (1) Luther was revered, and the Nazis – including Hitler himself – used the writings of Luther as a convenient base to reach the masses. He was quoted time and time again by Hitler, Goering, and others.

        Did Luther himself imagine the complete destruction of the Jewish people? Probably not. Is he partially culpable for providing the opportunity? To deny so is absurd and the equivalent of denying that there were no gas chambers. Historians who hold Luther accountable for the existing antisemitism among the German people include Johannes Wallmen, Paul Lawrence Rose, Michael Berenbaum, Leon Poliakov, and William Shirer himself, who of course wrote “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Shirer states in his work:

        “It is difficult to understand the behavior of most German Protestants in the first Nazi years unless one is aware of two things: their history and the influence of Martin Luther. The great founder of Protestantism was both a passionate anti-Semite and a ferocious believer in absolute obedience to political authority. He wanted Germany rid of the Jews. Luther’s advice was literally followed four centuries later by Hitler, Goering and Himmler”

        So, in short Mr. Huebner, it is not shocking that you deny that Luther contributed heavily to the destruction of the Jewish people. After all, you preach for one of the only synods, that have never, not once, denounced the antisemitic writings of Luther (even the LCMS has done that). What is shocking is that you would talk about the horrors of the Holocaust initially, and then venerateethe man who helped orchestrate it only moments later

        (1).”The Reception of Luther’s Writings on the Jews from the Reformation to the End of the 19th century”, Lutheran Quarterly, n.s. 1 (Spring 1987) 1:72-97.

  2. It is not helpful for you to quote people who are “experts” in history but novices in Luther.

    That is, people who try to make points on history by ripping quotes out of the context of Luther’s entire body of work are not useful or helpful.

    In fact, it is just as foolish as one particular movie in the Holocaust museum in DC. This movie attempts to put much blame on Martin Luther as well. In creating the mood of contempt against Luther for purportedly beginning Nazi-ism, the movie shows a picture of Luther pointing his finger. The movie adds shrill music and gives the great impression that he is sharply pointing his finger “at the Jews” in hatred. How foolish! The pointed finger shown in the movie is actually from Cranach’s painting of Luther. In the painting Luther is in the pulpit and is POINTING AT CHRIST!

    In the same way, if you take a given quote out of context of time, culture, context, and body of work, you can assert anything you want about Luther (as you have done) or anyone else for that matter.

    I would greatly recommend that you and other inquisitive minds read a work from someone who is both an expert in history AND in Luther. There are more where this came from, but here is one very good essay to debunk your claims:

    http://www.wlsessays.net/files/HardtLuther.pdf

    • I burst out laughing when you called the revered historian William Shirer a novice historian and disparaged what proper academia considers to be the preeminent historical work on Nazi Germany, but that’s besides the point.

      As is typical, you paraded the old “It’s taken out of context,” line without providing any back up as to HOW it’s taken out of context. From an observer’s point of view, it’s hard to see how Luther saying in all seriousness “Kill the Jews and burn down their synagogues” could be defensible in any circumstances, but no, you defend his terrible words and instead pick apart the fact that I didn’t post the entire context of “On the Jews and Their Lies” for your convenience.

      You see, Mr. Huebner, in order to be a proper historian, one must cite sources to back up his arguments, which neither you nor the ‘historian’ in your posted article did. The essay you posted is not a historical analysis, but an opinion piece that never once referenced any legitimate historical source to back up his claim. Instead, it was more bleating about how Luther was ‘a product of his time.’ Never mind how Christians are supposed to be in the world but not of it. Luther automatically gets a free pass.

      So continue to defend Luther’s antisemitism if you want to. Ridicule proper historians if you want to. But when you venerate the cornerstone of the Holocaust and then try to tell people that you have a message of love, people like me will always be there to warn others away from your immensely destructive and dangerous doctrine.

      And here’s another hint. One does not have to be a Lutheran in order to be well-educated and knowledgeable about Luther.

      • You seem to have very different viewpoints on a number of things, both on Luther and on Scripture. Your vehemence and apparent belittling attitude makes continued discussion seem unproductive and pointless.

        I will not change my opinion on what Scripture says (regarding a previous post) or on who Luther, the master of hyperbole to make a point, really is.

      • Ah. It’s all hyperbole. Well, that makes it fine then.
        Different viewpoints? From you? That should be obvious. At least mine are consistent. You know, don’t kill Jews, don’t kill gays. Don’t kill people, basically, and don’t make excuses for those who say you should.

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