June 16, 2019
Blessed by the Triune God!
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.’ So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.” (NIV1984)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Today is Father’s Day. Today is a day when families all across the country are going out of their way to show their Dads and Granddads just how much they love and appreciate them. Today is the day that Dads and Granddads all across the country are getting gifts of new ties or new tools, dinner at their favorite restaurant or a gift card to one of their favorite restaurants. Speaking on behalf of Dads and Granddads all across the country— all of that is good and right and proper!
For us who have gathered together here in God’s house this morning, today is also Trinity Sunday. Today is a day when we get to sit back and marvel at the awesomeness of the God we worship and adore, the God who created us, the God who redeemed us, the God who sanctifies us— the God we will never be able to completely understand with our limited logical minds!
Is there a way to combine those two realities my friends? Is there a way to take Father’s Day and Trinity Sunday and dovetail them together? I think there is! While our children and our grandchildren are striving to show their love and appreciation to their Dads and the Granddads today, as Christian Fathers and as Christian Grandfathers we have the opportunity to take a moment and reflect on what we want most for our children and our grandchildren. That’s where Trinity Sunday fits into the equation in a very wonderful way!
Our sermon text for this Trinity Sunday is a portion of Scripture that is extremely familiar to us. This text contains the blessing that we almost always hear at the end of our worship services. Today let’s see how this text not only comforts us and strengthens each and every one of us, but let’s see how this text reminds us fathers and grandfathers that our number one prayer for our children and our grandchildren is that they are blessed: Blessed by the Triune God!
We have all experienced times in our lives when it seemed as though we were such a failure that nobody could ever possibly want us— including God. Humanly speaking, the children of God in the days of Moses had every reason to feel that way. The LORD, the great “I AM” who appeared to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3:13-14; See also Exodus 34:6-7), had blessed the descendants of Abraham beyond anything they deserved. The LORD rescued them out of slavery in Egypt. The LORD rescued them from their enemies at the shore of the Red Sea. The LORD led them through the desert providing food and water along the way. The LORD gave them His written Word at Mt. Sinai. The LORD promised them a land of their own— a land flowing with milk and honey. How did God’s children respond? They grumbled and complained. They fashioned a golden calf and then bowed down to worship it. They openly engaged in sexual immorality. In short— God’s people failed! They failed miserably!
Yet, in spite of all that, my friends, what do we hear in the opening verse of our text? We read, “The LORD said to Moses, ‘Tell Aaron and his sons, “This is how you are to bless the Israelites….”’” The blessing that we use here in our worship services is not something that Moses simply “came up with” one day. The blessing that we use here in our worship services is not something that the church “developed” over the course of time. No, rather, the blessing that we use here in our worship services was not only given to Moses directly by God Himself, but the LORD directed that this blessing be pronounced upon His people until the very end of time.
As we look at this gracious blessing we easily see that it encompasses three sections. This three-fold blessing automatically leads us to think of the Triune God. This three-fold blessing automatically reminds us that the only true God, the Triune God, is our Source of blessings. You might be interested to know that in the Hebrew the three sections of this blessing cascade from three words to five words to seven words— like a stream of blessings that grows larger as it flows. You also might be interested in knowing that the word “you” here in this blessing is in the singular form. The LORD designed this blessing to be taken “personally” by each and every individual child of God!
Now, let’s look at the blessing itself, shall we. The first section reads, “The LORD bless you and keep you.” The blessings of the LORD, the blessings of the Triune God encompass a wide variety of both material and spiritual gifts. In fact, in the book of James we are told, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights….” (James 1:17) Perhaps more important than the gifts themselves, however, is the Triune God’s motivation behind these blessings. Why does the Triune God bless you? Because He loves you! All of God’s gifts to you are an open expression of His amazing grace! It is that grace which also leads the Triune God to “keep you.” Literally, this Hebrew word means, “to guard or protect.” Yes, my friends, the Triune God Himself promises to “guard” you and to “protect” you from all harm. (See Psalm 121:7-8; Romans 8:28). Even when we walk through “the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4) we do not need to fear! The Triune God will be there to “guard” us and to “protect” us!
The blessing of the Triune God then continues with the words. “…the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you….” Have you ever known someone whose face automatically lights up and smiles from ear to ear the instant they see you? Just as a person’s smile reveals the joy and the love that fills their heart, so also the Lord’s smiling face reveals the joy and the love that is in His heart when He sees us! Do we deserve to have the Triune God smiling down on us? No, we do not, my friends. Because of our sin, because of our rebellious ways we deserve to see God’s face flush with righteous anger as He condemns us to an eternity of suffering in hell. What then motivates the Triune God to “make his face shine upon you”? Once again it all comes down to the fact that the Triune God is “gracious to you.” From all of eternity God’s “face” has always been focused on the cross of Calvary’s hill. (Pointing to the cross) From all of eternity the Triune God has always been able to “see” what Jesus accomplished for you and for me. That’s why the apostle Paul was able to say to the Christians in Rome, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). As you and I now strive to stay focused on the cross, as you and I now strive to openly live our lives as the saved and forgiven children of the Triune God we have the comfort and the security of knowing that the LORD is indeed “smiling” down upon us!
The final portion of the blessing of the Triune God once again wraps the warm soft blanket of God’s grace around us. We read, “…the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.” When someone is angry with you, when someone is deeply disappointed in you they might say something like, “I don’t even want to look at you right now.” If it were not for the cross of Jesus Christ God would indeed turn His face away from us in anger and in disgust. Because of the cross of Jesus Christ the Triune God “turns his face toward you,” my friends! Think about it, my friends. The Triune God “turns his face toward you” in love and acceptance and He freely blesses you with the greatest gift of all: “shalom”— “peace”!
While “shalom” was the common way for God’s people to both greet each other as well as to bid farewell to each other this “common” word took on extraordinary meaning on Easter Sunday, didn’t it. The very first words the risen Christ spoke to His frightened disciples in that locked room were, “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19) The “peace” that only the Triune God can give us, the “peace” that “transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7) guarantees to us that “All is well” between us and the only true God. “Shalom!” Such a simple word! Such a powerful meaning!
While it would be tempting to end our sermon right here I would be shortchanging you if I did not take a moment to direct your attention to the closing verse of our text. We hear the Triune God Himself say, “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.” By placing His Name on His children the Triune God “chooses” them to be His very own. (See John 15:16) Why does the Triune God “choose” someone to be His very own? It all goes back to His grace, doesn’t it. When did the Triune God choose you to be His very own? For most of you it was at the time of your Christian baptism. When you were baptized with water in the Name of the Triune God He “chose” you, He “adopted” you, He “placed His name” on you so that you would be His very own dearly beloved child! Yes, my friends, your Christian baptism assures you that the Triune God does indeed “want” you— He wants you to be His own both now and in eternity!
As we gather together with our family today— both our biological family and our spiritual family— we are indeed celebrating both Father’s Day as well as Trinity Sunday. My prayer this morning is that as children and grandchildren, as Fathers and Grandfathers, as brothers and sisters in Christ we will listen. Listen very closely to the blessing that the Triune God pronounces upon you— His children— to this very day. Listen to His blessing in the shadow of the cross. (Pointing to the cross) Listen to His blessing knowing that you have been baptized in His Name. Listen to His blessing and then you will always know, my friends. Then you will always know that you are indeed blessed— blessed by the Triune God!
To God be the glory!