The following is a timely article by David Lazarus, a regular contributor to Israel Today and pastor of the Messianic congregation Beit Immanuel in Tel Aviv.
This has been another hard week for Israel. With barely time to mourn the loss of our 3 murdered teenagers, war drums are pounding again – both within and beyond our tiny borders.
How should we pray for Jerusalem in this terrible hour? One of Judaism's oldest prayers, recited more than any other blessing, gives us guidance to face the unique challenges of these difficult times.
The Aaronic Blessing is packed with beauty and meaning for such a time as this.
The first section - "May the Lord bless you and Keep you" asks G-d to prosper us with material and physical well-being. Here we are commanded to recall that He is our ultimate protection, and not only our own efforts.
May we turn our faces to the Lord in this difficult hour to the "Keeper of Israel and the Shield of Abraham."
Let us not allow the stones thrown at us become a stumbling block, but may they become footsteps drawing us closer to Him.
The second section – "The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you" asks the Almighty to grant us wisdom ("Ya'er" is related to the word "Or" – light, a metaphor for wisdom). We cannot live by gut reactions alone. When in trouble, it is time to fall on our faces before G-d and allow His face to shine on us. It is in the midst of uncertainty and danger that we must pray, "Your will be done, and not mine…"
This is also a plea that we should find favor (gracious in the Hebrew) with G-d so that others should be built up with our teachings. His wisdom does not make us so arrogant that people resent us. This is especially true when we are angry and hurt and want to lash out at others, and our nation is seething right now. Let us ask the Lord to be gracious to Israel so that we might find favor with Him especially as we face of such turmoil.
The third section - "The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace" calls us to look at our Lord right in the eye. When a person does not conduct himself properly and knows that he is wrong, even in the face of danger, he cannot face his Lord, nor can he face others with integrity. But when we do the right thing, we can lift up our heads in the sight of G-d, and this, in turn, evokes a similar response from the Lord.
When our gaze meets our Maker, we are at Peace, and there is no greater strength than to walk in the light and be in fellowship with the will of G-d.
These are the blessings we should have in mind as we pray for Israel. Security, wisdom, humility, favor with G-d and the peace that comes from knowing that we are doing the right thing. When we live like this "in the image of G-d," we will bring Shalom not only to ourselves, but to the entire world.