Trinity Sunday June 12, 2022
2 Corinthians 13:11-14
246, 244, 240, 252
Hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) unless otherwise noted
+ In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit +
Prayer of the Day: Almighty and everlasting God, You have given us grace to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity by the confession of a true faith and to worship the Unity in the power of the Divine Majesty. Keep us steadfast in this faith and defend us from all adversities; for You, O Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, live and reign, one God, now and forever. Amen.
And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. 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 lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.”’ So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.” (NKJV)
In the name of the Triune God, dear fellow redeemed;
At the opening of our Sunday services, we begin with the invocation, saying, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” With these words we call upon the Triune God to be present and bless our worship of Him.
And then at the close of our services, we speak the parting Benediction (or “blessing”) of our LORD with these words, “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious unto you; the LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.”
These words of blessing were first given by God to Aaron, the first High Priest, to say to the children of Israel. The Aaronic Benediction was not meant to express a wish, hope, or desire, but rather carried with it the promise of God’s richest blessings upon His people. We have every confidence of this being the intended meaning, for right after the LORD commanded Aaron and his sons to pronounce these words of blessing upon His people, He declared, “So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.” (Numbers 6:27)
It is certainly very fitting and beneficial to open and close our worship services in this manner, for in so doing we are acknowledging the one true God who made us, redeemed us, sanctifies us, and will finally glorify us in heaven. He is the One whom we desire to worship, serve, and obey. And it is from Him that we receive countless blessings both for our temporal life and our eternal life to come. We want Him to be present at our Sunday services to bless us spiritually and we can worship Him in spirit and in truth to the honor, glory, and praise of His holy name. And when we depart from God’s house of worship, we want Him to go with us and bless the coming week with His abundant grace and mercy.
While the words of the Benediction do not specifically give the names of the three persons of the Godhead by which they are distinguished from one another, yet the threefold use of the name LORD very definitely points us to the Triune God. This name for God is the translation for the Hebrew term “Jehovah”. This Hebrew name is a distinctive name in the Old Testament that identifies the LORD as the one and only true God.
This unique, singular name for God is found in the Old Testament Scriptures as referring to one or the other of the three persons of the Godhead—that of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. For example, in the book of Isaiah, the prophet reports seeing the glory of the Lord God Jehovah in a vision (Isaiah 53:1ff.). And then in the Gospel of John, the evangelist reveals that it was the glory of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, which Isaiah saw (John.12:38ff.). Thus Jesus Christ is revealed as the Lord God Jehovah, as is also the Father and the Holy Spirit.
In addition to the threefold use of the name of LORD in the Benediction, each of the phrases remind us of the distinctive tasks that are attributed to each of the three persons of the Godhead which the LORD performs in our behalf. It is then these special works of the Triune God that we will meditate on this morning so that we might the more appreciate the wondrous blessings God promises to confer on us through the Benediction.
First off, the LORD would have your pastor say to you in God’s Benediction, “The LORD bless you and keep you.” The heavenly Father, who created all things, is an almighty and gracious God who, despite our unworthiness, faithfully continues to bless us with all that we need for our body and life. The apostle James testifies of Him, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” (1:17) Knowing that every good and needful thing for our earthly life comes from the hand of our heavenly Father, in Luther’s explanation to the fourth petition of the Lord’s Prayer, we confess with praise and thanksgiving that God the Father blesses us with “everything we need for our bodily well-being. It includes food, drink, clothes, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money and goods, a godly husband or wife, godly children, godly workers, godly and faithful leaders, good government, good weather, peace, health, education, honor, faithful friends, trustworthy neighbors—and things like that.”
So then, during those times we are experiencing any earthly need, such as the improvement of our health or rain during drought conditions, we lift up our eyes unto the LORD and we ask Him to bless us according to His will for us.
Our heavenly Father is also One who guards and keeps us safe from every harm and danger. In Psalm 121, the psalmist reveals to us that the LORD is our keeper, that is, our protector. He writes of this with these words of God, “I will lift up my eyes to the hills—From whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel Shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night. The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in From this time forth, and even forevermore.” (Psalm 121)
What a great comfort it is to know that God the Father will always be there for us to bless us with everything that is necessary for our life and will unfailingly keep us safe and secure in this world.
Concerning the divine blessings that comes to us from the Lord Jesus, we say in the Benediction, “The LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you.” In various places in Holy Scripture where the face of God is referred to, it is used to picture God’s disposition toward mankind. For example, with regard to those who set themselves up against God with a rebellious spirit, refuse to obey Him, and oppose Him with defiance, the psalmist reveals that, “The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, To cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.” (Psalm 34:16) On the other hand, when Scripture speaks of God’s face shining upon us, it is picturing the LORD as looking upon us with His infinite grace and favor.
While the light that emanates from the sun in the sky can brighten our day with its warmth and radiant rays, the light of God’s saving grace and favor gladdens our hearts even more so. The rays of God’s lovingkindness and tender mercies warm our hearts and comfort our troubled spirits. The reason for this beneficial effect the shining face of God has upon us is brought out in this prayer of the psalmist, “Restore us, O God; Cause Your face to shine, And we shall be saved!” (Psalm 80:3)
When as penitent sinners we look upon the Lord Jesus in faith as our Savior, we do not behold the face of an angry and wrathful judge. Rather, we see His face beaming bright with tender affection and kindness. Jesus is our Light and our Salvation. By means of His holy, precious blood poured out on the cross for our redemption, Jesus mercifully bestows on us His free gift of forgiveness and eternal salvation. This is the light of God’s grace and favor shining upon us that gladdens our hearts beyond measure.
In gazing upon the face of Jesus, it is of absolute importance that we regard Him as the Lord God Jehovah. Only God Himself and no mere mortal could pay the costless price for our redemption. The psalmist says of sinful mortals, “None of them can by any means redeem his brother, Nor give to God a ransom for him—For the redemption of their souls is costly.” (Psalm 49:7-8) As for Jesus, the eternal Son of God, Scripture testifies of Him that He “gave Himself a ransom for all.” (1 Timothy 2:6), and that “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” (Eph.1:7) May the light of these truths never fade from our eyes and dim the hopes of our future in eternity.
Finally, concerning God the Holy Spirit the Aaronic Benediction pronounces upon us “The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.” The blessed peace of God that we experience as Christians comes from knowing and believing in the heavenly Father’s providential care in our lives and Jesus’ wonderful redemptive work as our Savior. Having full confidence in God’s gracious care in our lives frees us from fears and worries of this world, because we know that when each new day dawns, God will be faithful in providing us with our daily bread and all other earthly necessities. Our life rests securely in God’s almighty hands. Also, there is no room left in our hearts to fear or dread the holy God on account of our misdeeds, because the forgiving love of God shines so brightly there, removing all guilt and blame.
This glorious peace of mind is fully realized, experienced and enjoyed as the countenance or face of the Holy Spirit is lifted up upon us through the Word of God and He enables us to trust that God the Father is watching out for our every care and need. And the Spirit of God also blesses us with peace in enabling us to obtain the blessing of God’s pardon and salvation by enabling us to believe in Jesus as our all-sufficient Savior. In Paul’s epistle to the Romans, he brings out this fruit of the Spirit with these words, “since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1) So long as the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts engendering faith toward our Savior God, we will have peace within our souls.
Not only does the Holy Spirit enable us to be at peace with God through our Savior Jesus Christ, but He also makes it possible to live at peace with one another. For when the Spirit of God touches our hearts with the love of God in Christ Jesus, He works in us the spirit of Christian love. Listen to the apostle Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians give us a list of ways that display Christian love which enable us to live at peace with each other, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (I Cor. 13:4-8)
What better send off from God’s house of worship could we receive from the Triune God than His Benediction in which He promises to bless us and keep us, to make His face to shine upon us and be gracious to us and to lift up His countenance upon us and give us peace. When at the end of the worship service we go our separate ways, may we leave with the knowledge that God will most assuredly bless us throughout the coming week. Amen.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.