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God’s Word for You

Numbers 6:26b, 27 Peace

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, July 9, 2021

...and give you peace. 27 In this way you will put my name of the Israelites, and I will bless them.

The benediction ends with a blessing that is directed specifically and uniquely to God’s holy people (and, as always, to you personally). This is the blessing of peace. Most people don’t understand how to think about peace. They think about it along one line only, something unique to their lives, something specific about their family or their past. In our culture, where men like Freud and Hegel have tried to explain the world and the mind apart from the Word of God, people think that everything is about mental health, and that true peace is the path of mental health. Here the Buddhists and the other Eastern religions deceptively offer something for people to grasp at, but at its center, as they freely state, there is nothing at all. It has no value.

The peace that God offers and gives to us has more than one aspect, and I doubt whether I can, in a morning’s effort, list them all. But here are four of them, each truly an aspect of God’s peace. And each of these four is illustrated in the life of Abraham:

1, General peace in the world, its governments, and nations.
2, Peace in the family.
3, Peace in a Christian death.
4, Peace eternally with God.

First is the general peace in the world, which, yes, erupts or disintegrates from time to time, but which is thankfully the rule more than it is the exception. This peace is even extended to unbelievers and their governments because those peoples and nations affect God’s people who live within their borders and without. For example, when Ishmael was cast out of Abraham’s tent, the Lord promised to bless him and to make a great nation of him. This wasn’t because of any merits in Ishmael, who had no merits at all regarding his faith. It was for the sake of Abraham (Genesis 21:12-13). Luther says: “This account serves to teach us that God allots kingdoms and governments even to reprobate and evil men, not because of their merit—which is nil—but for the sake of the Church, which alone in the world prays for kings and governments, and in order that it may be able to have a quiet lodging place in this life and to propagate the Word of God in peace” (LW 4:35).

Peace in the family is always a blessing, and since the family is subject to sin, misunderstanding, ego, rebellion, selfishness, and other temptations, it needs to be managed with discipline and love. Also, it will help if the father or head of the family is clear about whatever he will leave behind to his children, if anything. Abraham did this when he gave an inheritance to Isaac but also to each of the later children he had with the wife he married after Sarah died (Genesis 25:5-6).

True peace in the family is not possible when there is a division because of faith. While some married couples maintain a relatively happy home in which one spouse is, for example, Lutheran, and the other is Catholic, this will never lead to a unity in the family if they have children. The children will always follow one parent and cannot follow both. This is something that needs to be addressed in any family right now, before another sun sets. It should have been discussed and resolved before the couple ever married. If not then, it should have been resolved the very first Sunday morning after they married: Which Church will we attend? And if not then, it should have been resolved the day the wife discovered she was pregnant: Where will our little one be baptized? And if not then, it should be resolved today, before another day goes by. Where is the pure gospel preached? Where are the sacraments administered according to the Word of God? How much poison should we allow our children to swallow, or wouldn’t it be better to worship where there is no false teaching, no poison at all? When this can be answered, there will be peace in the family.

Peace in a Christian death. With the death of Abraham, for the first time in the Bible, there is a peaceful passing into the arms of God. Despite the curse on Adam and Eve, the curse that is summarized by the word “death,” it is also possible to say, “He was an old man, and full of years” (Genesis 25:8). “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15). Luther has a brilliant insight here: “Isaiah read and carefully expounded this passage (Psalm 116), for from it there originated those striking statements he made: ‘The righteous man is taken away from calamity, he enters into peace; they rest in their beds’ (Isaiah 57:1-2); and, ‘Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the wrath is past’ (Isaiah 26:20)” (LW 4:309). We are able to close our eyes in death without the grief of eternal separation, but with nothing more than the sleep of a child, to awaken in the arms and in the presence of all who love us.

Peace eternally with God. At the end of the account of Abraham, we are told by Moses that Abraham “breathed his last… and was gathered to his people” (Genesis 25:8). This image of heaven is one of the first ones we have in the Bible, and it is one of the most joyous: We will be with “our people” in heaven, in paradise, forever. Whatever other aspects of heaven you might wonder about, its dimensions, its shape, whether there will truly be a river, or walls, or trees heavy with fruit, or sheep on the hillsides and birds soaring and twittering overhead, one great truth is certain and cannot be shaken: We will be reunited with our people, all of those who have put their faith in God. Just as a husband and wife should and must stay with right doctrine and teaching for their Church in their marriage, so also we will remain with nothing but the purest truth and faith in eternity. Peace with God means trusting completely in Christ, and peace in eternity means having all of the benefits and blessings of God in our resurrected and perfected bodies. There we will truly have peace, every kind of peace, forever.

God told Moses and Aaron that this blessing was a way of putting his name on the people. The name of God means everything we know about God wrapped up within his name. Every one of his attributes is there in his name, so that when I say, “God bless you,” I mean the God who is patient, loving, compassionate, perfect, eternal, and who sent his Son to atone for your sins on the cross and to demonstrate for us all the resurrection of the body, proving it all with his preaching and illustrating it all with his signs and miracles—this is the God who blesses you. His name is on you. Remember that, Christian. You bear the name of Christ, and therefore you bear a sermon in that title on the forgiveness of sins and everlasting life. What a glorious message to carry!

Finally, there is another blessing of peace. The peace of God guards us, watching over us, giving us comfortable walls within which we live and know security. This is the peace of God that gives us confidence in our future, the future that is uncertain to the world, but is a matter of joy to us. Paul calls it (Philippians 4:7), “The peace of God that transcends all understanding, that guards your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Amen.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

 

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