There are some denominations or folks who do church, where at some point in the worship service, the leader says, “Peace be with you” and those in attendance together say, “And also with you.” When one is not of a denomination that does this weekly, such as myself, it is a really cool blessing to speak over folks. However, I have heard from some who grew up with this greeting and it had lost it meaning and punch.
Church history and tradition is a fascinating thing. Personally, the knowledge of where something started and why, is intriguing to me. Where did this “Peace” greeting originate? The answer may be from Ruth.
In Ruth chapter two the landowner Boaz arrived at one of his fields in Bethlehem (or Beit-Lechem in the CJB). Bo ‘az says to his reapers, “Adonai be with you”; and they answered him, “Adonai bless you.”
It may go way back to Numbers 6:24-27 (CJB):
May Adonai bless you and keep you.
May Adonai make his face shine on you and show you his favor.
May Adonai lift up his face toward you and give you peace.
“In this way they are to put my name on the people of Isra ‘el, so that I will bless them.”
Let’s use our words to bless folks. It may have been Jesus who encouraged something like that.
Numbers may as well have been entitled “Rebellion and Grumblings.”
Over and over again, the contrast between Father’s faithfulness and Israel’s faithlessness erupt.
Think of all the stories where the people’s rebellion brought difficulty and discipline to the newly emancipated slaves:
*Mariam and Aaron’s defiance of Moses leadership. Mariam’s ensuing leprosy.
*Fussing about Moses and Aaron being in charge and the staff that budded.
*Mannah provided every morning. Because of complaining.
*Quail coming out their noses. See above reason.
*Unbelieving spies not trusting God and 40 years of needless wandering.
*Not having water to drink and Moses struggle with people, caused Moses to sin against God.
*Phinehas running a spear through a man and foreign woman for having sex in the camp. Incidently, a plague did stop after that.
*Balaks hiring of Balaam to curse the Israelites and not able to.
Our friends test God at every level, even while God is providing for their needs.
How often is my ‘grumble-ometer’ totally pegged on overload and Father continues to show himself faithful? Numbers 14:18-19 says, “The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love, and forgiving sin.”
The words we use either bless folks or curse them. We have learned that it is better to bless, to encourage, to pray for, to forgive, to love, to bring life, and to see success in our selves, relationships, families, and town. The above picture shows some of our churches favorite scripture. It is a small silver scroll found in 1979 in the desert of Israel. Marked as the most significant archaeological find ever, it dates back to the 7th century BCE. The paleo-Hebrew scrawl says, “May the Lord bless you and keep you, May the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you, May the Lord turn his face towards you and give you peace” Numbers 6:22-24 affectionately called the Priestly Blessing or Aaronic Blessing.
Reading through the Bible every year like this is kind of like going on a long road trip. We have driven to Los Angeles from Colorado so many times that we know the places to stay, great places to eat, the long stretches of highway, and even where to change drivers. Yet even in the redundancy of the drive, the same ol’ same ol’ scenery, we would see something new, find a new restaurant, or see Father’s hand in the adventure.
Reading through the Bible this time is once again, just like that. We are reading very familiar stories. Even stories we have heard all our lives and probably did a flannel-graph of them. We can retell them with vivid detail.
Yet, each and every time I read, there is something new. For example, here is a short phrase I had not seen before today. It is only four words. Yet in its brevity, a powerful truth is reflected.