Turn Toward God

Bishop Paul Lanier prayer at the Western Wall.

The LORD bless you
    and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face toward you
    and give you peace. —
Numbers 6:24-26

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Naso, which means “count,” from Numbers 4:21–7:89.

One of the best perks of living in Israel is being able to participate in ancient Jewish practices. In Temple times, when the priests gathered at the Holy Temple in Jerusalem to celebrate the three pilgrim holidays—Shavuot, Passover, and Sukkot—they would bless the people with these words from Numbers 6:24-26, also known as the priestly blessing.

In our times, hundreds of Jews who can trace their lineage back to the Aaron the first high priest, also gather at the Western Wall on these pilgrim holidays and recite the very same blessing as throngs of worshipers stand in attendance. On many occasions, my husband and I have brought our children with us to be a part of this experience, and it is extraordinary.

It is both a glimpse into our past and a peek into the future.

Turn Toward God

It was in this week’s Torah portion that the words of the priestly blessing were first introduced. It is a blessing, asking for Divine favour. But, as the Jewish sages asked, what right do we have to request God’s favor? Here’s their answer: “Because the Jewish people are careful to say the Grace after Meals, even after eating a small amount of food… God is favourably disposed toward them.”

What does this mean?

When a person receives a gift from a great king, it does not matter what the gift is or what it costs. The value of the gift is that it came from the king. Similarly, when we receive a gift from God, such as food, and we appreciate it whether it is a little or a lot, we demonstrate that we value the gift simply because it came from God, our King. In essence, we “turn our face to God,” not to the items we received. As a result, God turns His face toward us and not to our misdeeds.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have God’s favour upon us all the time? How great would it be to have VIP treatment from the Master of the World! The truth is that we, too, can draw God’s favour toward when we appreciate our blessings, whether they are a little or a lot. Let’s turn toward God in gratitude and bless Him. In return, He will bless us, too.

Your turn: What are you grateful for today? Be sure to include all blessings, big and small. Everything we have is directly from God, a priceless gift from our King.

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