READ THE BIBLE IN 2022: This past week, February 13 through 19, we read Numbers 5 through Numbers 20. A few key passages included the Priestly Blessing (ch 6), the report of the spies (ch 13), and the death of Miriam and Aaron (ch 20). The report of the spies is important because it is a pivotal point in the newly formed Hebrew nation’s relationship with God. In short, God tested them and their lack of faith is seen in their reluctance to enter the Promised Land, because they “saw the Nephilim" and thought themselves "like grasshoppers" by comparison (13:33) They failed to understand that God, who parted the Red Sea, is mightier than any problem they faced. The death of Miriam and Aaron signal a generational change as Aaron’s responsibilities are transferred to his son Eleazar. In the concluding chapters of Numbers, Eleazar serves with distinction. My focus, however, is on the Priestly Blessing, called “Aaron’s Blessing” in the ESV and the “Benediction” in the LSB, which closes the Divine Service by placing God’s three-fold blessing on His Church. As we read in Numbers, God gave the benediction to Moses and told him to have Aaron and his sons use it to put His name on the people of God and bless them. Among the blessings are that He would keep us, be gracious to us, and give us peace, but we should also be aware of the blessing of God putting His name upon us (cf Mt 28:19). Ranchers and retailers put their name on their brand-items, and they jealously guard their brand name so it is not tarnished. While people often associate jealousy with its negative connation, envy, the positive side means “zealous vigilance.” And you can be assured that the positive side of jealously applies to God, who indeed “is a jealous God” (Ex 34:14) and watches over His people, those who wear His “brand name,” with a zealous vigilance.