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Ancient Promises

The Lord bless you and keep you. Numbers 6:24

In 1979, Dr. Gabriel Barkay and his team discovered two silver scrolls in a burial ground outside the Old City of Jerusalem. In 2004, after twenty-five years of careful research, scholars confirmed that the scrolls were the oldest biblical text in existence, having been buried in 600 bc. What I find particularly moving is what the scrolls contain—the priestly blessing that God wanted spoken over His people: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you” (Numbers 6:24–25).

In giving this benediction, God showed Aaron and his sons (through Moses) how to bless the people on His behalf. The leaders were to memorize the words in the form God gave so they would speak to them just as God desired. Note how these words emphasize that God is the one who blesses, for three times they say, “the Lord.” And six times He says, “you,” reflecting just how much God wants His people to receive His love and favor.

Ponder for a moment that the oldest existing fragments of the Bible tell of God’s desire to bless. What a reminder of God’s boundless love and how He wants to be in a relationship with us. If you feel far from God today, hold tightly to the promise in these ancient words. May the Lord bless you; may the Lord keep you.

What does it mean to you that God desires to bless you? How can you share His love with others?
Father God, I give thanks for the many blessings You give to me. Help me to notice the ways You bring me joy and peace, that I might praise You.


The Aaronic priestly blessing of Numbers 6 is echoed in Psalm 67. It begins with a request for God’s favor: “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us.” Three times the word bless is used (vv. 1, 6, 7). As in Numbers 6, the word translated “bless” is the Hebrew word barak. According to the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, “To bless in the OT means ‘to endue with power for success, prosperity, fecundity, longevity, etc.’ ”

Why the plea of Psalm 67:1? It’s not simply for the blessing of the nation Israel, but that through them God would be known among the nations: “So that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations” (v. 2).

Arthur Jackson/a>

By |2020-02-21T16:06:13-05:00February 22nd, 2020|
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