Prayer for Peace
I am continuing my reading through the Old Testament, and am currently in the book of Numbers. In Numbers 6, we read this beautiful blessing Aaron and his sons are given by God to pray over the people of Israel:
"The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace." (verse24-26)
Isn't that such a beautiful prayer? I find myself longing for peace in so many areas. Our world today is riddled with violence, mistrust, injustices, rioting, belittling of others, anger, bitterness, and so much more. This stuff is happening in our society, in our churches, and in our families. So, how can we have peace? How can the favor of the Lord shine upon us once again? Do not your hearts cry out for peace in these days?
God gives us the answer here in his word, and I pray these truths will give you the desire for peace in your home, church, community, and around the world.
The books of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy have a lot of rules. Rules, lists, instructions, and things we have trouble comprehending. But, the overall theme in all these books is that God had chosen the people of Israel for himself, and as being the chosen people of the only God, they were given specific instructions by which they would prove they were the chosen ones of God. In Numbers 5, we read about instructions for unclean people, test for adultery, and then a short passage regarding confession and restitution. In this passage we read, "When a man or woman commits any of the sins that people commit by breaking faith with the LORD, and that person realizes his guilt, he shall confess his sin that he has committed. And he shall make full restitution for his wrong, adding a fifth to it, and giving it to him to whom he did the wrong." God goes on to explain this restitution would then be given to the priest in order to make atonement for the wrong committed.
How does this relate to peace with God? Here's the answer: sin. Anytime we sin or do something to "break faith with God", the peace between ourselves and God is broken. And, if you had no faith with God to begin with (meaning, you are still living in sin, having not confessed that sin and received grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross), you certainly will not be experiencing true peace. You may feel like life is fine, but one look on the news or at your news feed will quickly tell you this world knows nothing of peace. Matthew Henry writes this: "Restitution is not enough without faith and repentance. [Do not keep what is not yours- by thought or by action.] This is the Word of God; it detects hypocrites and directs the tender conscience to proper conduct which springing from faith in Christ will make way for inward peace." (brackets mine)
Furthermore, he writes, "Mark whether you are clinging to sin. Mark whether you are living in obedience; this will make way for peace with God." Here's the point: peace with God cannot be achieved if you are continuing to hang on to sinful behaviors or habits. Our world will never know peace until the recognize their need for restitution and repentance before God. What sinful things are clinging to today? Are you grasping for control in areas which God is asking you to hand over to him? Are you angry and bitter at a friend or family member? Are you proud of your personal accomplishments, refusing to recognize it was God who gave you that accomplishment? This was essentially how I was living my life. I was refusing to give up areas of my life where I wanted control. I had broken my faith with God, and my life was a mess. I had no peace with him. I was living a hypocritical life! And, God used his word to reveal these truths to me and to restore me to a right relationship with him.
In II Corinthians 13:11-14, we read, "Finally brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. ...The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all." In that prayer from Numbers 6, the name for Jehovah, the LORD, is used three times. This is no coincidence. In the Old Testament, the knowledge of this name was limited, but we, as New Testament believers recognize the beauty of our three-in-one God. For in Christ's death and resurrection, he, the Son of God, provided for us the opportunity to experience grace, grace to know the love of God the Father, and to be able to experience communion and fellowship with God the Holy Spirit. Here in this Old Testament prayer, no earthly joys or pleasures are mentioned. And, the same is true of the benediction in II Corinthians. We who have peace with God know greater pleasures and blessings beyond any worldly treasure. And, when we are in right fellowship with God, having confessed our sins daily before him, thereby keeping close accounts with him, we find in him the favor, the blessing, the grace, the peace which only he can give.
Anyone can experience this, and when we take hold of this and make this truth our own, how well can we make for peace in our own families, our churches, our communities, and around the world.
Maybe you have never placed your faith in Christ to start with- do it today! Your life will never be the same! Maybe you are saved, yet, there are areas of your life God is asking you to give up, but you still clinging to them. Make restitution with him today. Aim for restoration. Seek peace. May his face shine upon you! May he be gracious to you! May he lift up his countenance upon you! May he give you peace! Amen!
And, may you shine his peace to a world which so desperately longs for peace.
Amen, and Amen!
Additonal song for meditation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiko8DSRMZI