The book of Numbers reports the account of the Israelites’ breaking camp at the foot of Mount Sinai and renewing their wandering in the wilderness. The opening chapters tell about the priests who served at the tabernacle and about the regulations the priests and people were to follow.
Number 6:24–26 records a priestly blessing directed toward the Israelites. As God’s spokesperson, the Aaronic priest first made atonement for the covenant community in the Most Holy Place of the tabernacle. Then, the priest offered the benediction on behalf of God’s people.
This blessing is also an appropriate New Year’s benediction for contemporary believers, especially as they navigate the uncharted and potentially turbulent waters of 2018:
“May the Lord bless you
and protect you;
the Lord make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face in favor toward you
and give you peace.”
The last line of the benediction, with its emphasis on “peace” (Hebrew, shalom), signifies more than the mere absence of hostility and the presence of tranquility. It also concerns human wellness, happiness, and flourishing in all areas of life.
For Christians, temporal joy and eternal satisfaction are found in union with the Messiah. After all, their faith in Him is the basis for them being “declared righteous” (that is, not guilty; Rom 5:1) and enjoying “peace” with the Father.
Moreover, the Son, as the believers’ “Prince of Peace” (Isa 9:6), enables them to deal constructively with anxiety and fear (John 14:27). The peace Jesus graciously lavishes on His followers not only “transcends all understanding” (Phil 4:7), but also stands “guard” as a sentry over their “hearts” and “minds.”
In this upcoming new year, may the Creator look with favor on all the thoughts and plans, words and deeds, of His beloved children around the globe. Amen.