God’s Gracious Embrace
The LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you. (Numbers 6:25)
Last week we saw that we bring delight to the heart of God. It’s not unlike that big cheesy smile parents get when they look at their children and their hearts swell with love, just because.
This week we are looking at the next phrase, “The Lord … be gracious to you.” It took a little while to wrap my head around this one. I was getting caught up on the concept of grace, which is a great place to get lost, instead of simply see God as gracious. When I looked at the Hebrew I was surprised to find that this word speaks of kindness, mercy, favor, and pity, instead of free gift and empowerment, which is the connotation of grace, especially in the New Testament. * Looking at this couplet together, we get the picture of God smiling on his people with his arms wide open to receive them as his children.
The concept of God’s graciousness goes back to the time when God met Moses on Mount Sinai to give Israel the 10 Commandments. Before giving the Law, he proclaimed his name as “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness…” (Exodus 34:6) This description shows up a number of times throughout the Old Testament.
Looking at the first two couplets together (Numbers 6:24-25) we see that this posture of God’s delight and acceptance is granted to those who take a posture of humility and trust, receiving from God his good words for them as well as his protecting embrace.
What does this mean for us today? It means that we still need to turn to God, receiving the finished work of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection for us and choosing to stay. God’s graciousness says, “You’re good enough to save!”
Grace and peace,
* The Septuagint (the Old Testament translated into Greek, ca. 200 BC) uses mercy, instead of grace in this passage.