Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The Nazarite Vow and the Christian Life Numbers 6:1-8

The Nazarite Vow and the Christian Life

Text: Numbers 6:1-8

Audio Link 

Introduction:  Marines in paratroops training.

A detachment of marines were assigned to the Army for paratroops training.  On the first day. they were called to assemble for a description of the assignment.   Before them stood the instructor and he began to describe the first jump.

"Men, you will fly over the target at 20,000 ft.  On my command the door will be opened and one by one you will be given the jump command.  Are there any questions?"

Several of the marines huddled together for a moment and seemed to be discussing something very intently.

"You, men what's the problem?  If you have a question speak up."  the instructor ordered.

One of the men stepped forward, "Sir, we were wondering if the pilot could fly over the target just a little bit lower.

"If, the plane is any lower the parachutes won't have time to open and deploy, marine."

"Oh! We're wearing parachutes, sir!"

Let's talk this morning about the Nazarites, kind of the Old Testament Marines, spiritually speaking.    Let's read...

Numbers 6:1-8
 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,  Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the LORD:  He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried.  All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk.  All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separateth himself unto the LORD, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow.  All the days that he separateth himself unto the LORD he shall come at no dead body.  He shall not make himself unclean for his father, or for his mother, for his brother, or for his sister, when they die: because the consecration of his God is upon his head.  All the days of his separation he is holy unto the LORD.

Denial of Self 

Numbers 6:3-4
He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried.  All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk.

The Nazarite was to abstain from anything from the vine.

The word Nazarite means a consecrated or separated one. The Nazarite in the Old Testament was one who for a certain period of time dedicated his life and body completely to the Lord. The vow of the Nazarite was usually undertaken spontaneously, and only for time period chosen by the one taking the vow. Some Jewish writings mention periods of 30, 60 or 100 days, but the Bible has no set time, it was left up to the individual. The term nāzîr, which gives us the title Nazarite, means "to separate," and in this context it means to separate to the Lord. Further the Nazarite was to separate from some physical things as he separated himself to his God. The Nazarite, while he kept his vow, was a physical symbol of spiritual dedication and separation from the people of Israel to see. He would symbolize what they all should be a "kingdom of priests and an holy nation" (Ex 19:6) dedicated to Jehovah.

There seem to be three lifetime Nazarites mentioned in the Bible, Samson, Samuel and John the Baptist. Samson is very obvious the other two are a pretty good guess.

Samson in Judges 13:5 For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.

Samuel in 1 Samuel 1:11 And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.

John the Baptist in Luke 1:13-15 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.  And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.  For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb.

Jesus was not a Nazarite and you don’t want to confuse the place he was raised, Nazareth, with the vow of a Nazarite. Jesus was not a Nazarite because he touched the dead and drank wine. He was a Nazarene but not a Nazarite. And though a Nazarite could come from Nazareth, just because you might be a Nazarene, that does not make you a Nazarite. (Not to be nitpicky but nothing and nobody necessitates the need of never neglecting the nomenclature more than the niceties and nuances of Nazarite and Nazareth.)

It is fairly easy to that the Nazarite was to separate to God but why the separation from all things pertaining to the grapevine? Again, if this was just a separation from intoxicating drink, then it would be easy to understand since a Nazarite dedicating themselves to the Lord should only be under the control and direction of the Lord. He should be elevated by His God not debased by drunkenness and without self-control.  

But there is a greater symbol here, the grapevine and all that came from it, represented Israel safe and prosperous. Grapevines could not be grown, or cultivated when a nation was at war, or when times were difficult. Viticulture was a yearlong process, and to raise up a vineyard took years from the time of planting to the time grapes could be harvested enough to make a good crop. Each season the vinedresser would have to prune, cultivate, and replant. Processing the grapes into juice or raisins took even more time. To have a vineyard able to produce grapes meant you had stability, and a nation that had flourishing vineyards was a nation at peace and prospering. The Bible speaks of such peace and prosperity as “every man under his vine and under his fig tree.”

1Kings 4:25 And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon.

In the Nazarite Vow, God took away that sense of stability and prosperity. Took it away from one physical thing that represented those values and made the man or woman taking the vow realize that they would trust not in things, but in their God. They were to deny themselves, their possessions, their land, their crops and instead trust only in God. To the Nazarite the denial of everything from the grapevine showed their denial of self and their reliance on God.

Sole Means of Support

So what can I learn or apply to my Christian life from the Nazarite vow? Well first it should remind me that as New Testament believers who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, we even more than a Nazarite should be separated unto God and separated from our dependence upon this world and its possessions.

Should we as Christians today, separate ourselves from alcohol? Yes, because it can be a deadly poison to your health and a cancer to your family, but even more than that it is something that represents the world and its sin. Also, we should understand that before you can separate yourself from this world you must separate yourself to God. If you get this backwards you will fail in both. Nor is it just alcohol I should be aware of if I am to be dedicated in service to God. What other things are my means of support, the things that control me, the things that make me feel at peace and prosperous in my life? Does my job, my education, my talent, my creativity, my intelligence, my ability, my bank account, my home, my retirement funds make me feel like I’m dwelling under my grape vine and sitting under my fig tree?

(Somehow, I don’t think that saying is going to catch on again. “Hey, Jack. How are things going for you? Well pretty good. I’m dwelling under my grapevine and sitting under my fig tree.” I like it but I just don’t think its going to catch on.)

The saying may not catch on, but the idea behind it should be remembered, our prosperity, our safety is not based upon what we have or own but upon the One who owns us, the one we have separated ourselves to.

Jesus said in Matthew 16:24. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.  25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. 

“Let him deny himself, Jesus said. The Christian should know, just as the Nazarite came to know through his vow, that our peace, our support, our prosperity must come from God before it comes from anything He might bless us with. It must be understood that God makes it possible to dwell under your grape vine and sit under your fig tree. (yeah, not going to catch on, but it sounds so good.)
How many of us would be willing to pray, "Lord knock the props, the supports out from under my life that I may learn that you and you only are my sole means of support, that you and you only control me.” I don’t blame you that not praying that prayer, I’m not comfortable with it either, but that’s okay because it’s probably going to happen anyway and probably more than once. This world has a way of knocking us to our knees and from that position its very easy to look up and know, “God you are my hope, and my strength. You only are my foundation and the rock I stand on.”

Illustration:  Livingstone wouldn't go back with Stanley.

David Livingstone was a famous Scotts missionary, explorer and national hero of Britain in 1864 he returned to Africa to continue to explore find the source of the Nile and try to use his influence to stop the slave trade. Months turned into years and all news from the missionary stopped. No one knew where he was, or if he was alive or now a prisoner of those he had tried to free with the Gospel of Christ.

Henry Stanley was a Welshman who had come to America at 15, fought in the Civil War and as a journalist reported on the Indian wars of the west. When he returned from the West his editor sent him to Africa to try and find the missing Livingstone. He left in 1871 and after almost 8 months of searching found Livingstone in a small African village, in bad health and desperate to hear news from home. Stanley tried to get Livingstone to go home with him, but he refused for he did not feel his work was done.

In his dairy that night he wrote. "My Jesus, my King, My Life, my all, I again dedicate my whole self to Thee. Accept me and grant O gracious Father, that ere the year is done I may finish my work.  In Jesus name, Amen."  A year later he was found beside his cot, on his knees dead. It appeared he had died in the midst praying to the God he had trusted and served for all his life.
Here was a Christian who had separated himself from the world and was relying only upon God.

Let’s look at the second requirement of a Nazarite in vs. 5 of Numbers 6

Dedication of the Body 

Numbers 6:5
 All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separateth himself unto the LORD, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow.

The Nazarite Would look Different

They were not to cut their hair or if a man not to cut his hair nor beard during their vow. (If this was true in our church today, some in our membership have taken on a very long vow, stretching to a few years by now.)

The Nazarite at the end of the vow would shave their head and then burn the hair upon the altar under the other offerings they would bring at the end of the vow.

The long hair and long, untrimmed beards would be an outward sign of their consecration and dedication to God.

According to Amos 2:11, where God says, “And I raised up of your sons for prophets, and of your young men for Nazarites.” it appears that in times of spiritual or national need that God would rise up the Nazarites as physical reminders of their need of God or perhaps even as warriors to act as champions fighting for God.

Their long hair and beards marked them as special, dedicated and unique people serving their God.
Outstanding Christians Stand Out

Now I am not going to advocate that we all start growing our hair and beards long to stand out. I for one would have a serious handicap in the hair category, but what we can apply from this part of the Nazarite vow is that God’s people should stand out. In other words, Christians should look and act differently than the sinful world around us. In everything we do, act and even in our dress we are to show the one we are dedicated to. We should outwardly show Jesus Christ.

Scripture; Lets do a quick survey of this truth in 1 Peter starting at 1 Peter 2:9

1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of  darkness into his marvellous light:  (I know what you’re thinking, there is nobody more peculiar than Independent Baptists. Well don’t be ashamed of that, own it.)    We are to know that we are unique, peculiar to our God.

Stand out by a lifestyle of good works. - 1 Peter 2:11  Dearly beloved, I beseech you as  strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they  may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.

We should standout through inner beauty - 1 Peter 3:1. Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; 2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. 3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of  putting on of apparel; 4 But let it be the hidden man  of the heart, in that  which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in  the sight of God of great price.

Standout by our Unity - 1Peter 3:8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: 9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
In other words, this is our overriding concern, that we show God is in our life by the way we live our life, by the way others see our outward life.

Does this affect the way you talk, the way you dress, the way you act, the way you live? Yes, it truly does, it truly must. If we are talking, dressing, acting or living like the world, then we are not showing God in our lives and through our lives. Christians should not be afraid to stand out as Christians.

 Illustration:  Christian and Faithful in Vanity Fair

Then I saw in my dream, that when they were got out of the wilderness, they presently saw a town before them, and the name of that town is Vanity; and at the town there is a fair kept, called Vanity Fair. It is kept all the year long. It beareth the name of Vanity Fair, because the town where it is kept is lighter than vanity, and also because all that is there sold, or that cometh thither, is vanity;  ..at this fair are all such merchandise sold as houses, lands, trades, places, honors, preferments, titles, countries, kingdoms, lusts, pleasures; and delights of all sorts, as harlots, wives, husbands, children, masters, servants, lives, blood, bodies, souls, silver, gold, pearls, precious stones, and what not. And moreover, at this fair there is at all times to be seen jugglings, cheats, games, plays, fools, apes, knaves, and rogues, and that of every kind. Here are to be seen, too, and that for nothing, thefts, murders, adulteries, false-swearers, and that of a blood-red color.

Now, these pilgrims, as I said, must needs go through this fair. Well, so they did; but behold, even as they entered into the fair, all the people in the fair were moved; and the town itself, as it were, in a hubbub about them, and that for several reasons: for,

First, The Pilgrims were clothed with such kind of raiment as was diverse from the raiment of any that traded in that fair. The people, therefore, of the fair made a great gazing upon them: some said they were fools; some, they were bedlams; and some, they were outlandish men.
Secondly, And as they wondered at their apparel, so they did likewise at their speech; for few could understand what they said. They naturally spoke the language of Heaven; but they that kept the fair were the men of this world: so that from one end of the fair to the other, they seemed barbarians each to the other.

Thirdly, But that which did not a little amuse the merchandisers was, that these pilgrims set very light by all their wares. They cared not so much as to look upon them; and if they called upon them to buy, they would put their fingers in their ears, and cry, "Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity," and look upward, signifying that their trade and traffic was in heaven.

At last, things came to an hubbub and great stir in the fair, insomuch that all order was confounded. So the men were brought to examination; and they that sat upon them asked them whence they came, whither they went, and what they did there in such an unusual garb. The men told them they were pilgrims and strangers in the world, and that they were going to their own country, which was the heavenly Jerusalem, and that they had given no occasion to the men of the town, to abuse them, and to let them in their journey…. But they did not believe them to be any other than crazy and mad. Therefore they took them and beat them, and smeared them with dirt, and then put them into a cage, that they might be made a spectacle to all the men of the fair. There, they lay for some time, and were made the objects of any man's sport, or malice, or revenge; ….Then were these two poor men brought before their examiners and were charged as being guilty of the riot that had been in the fair. So they beat them pitifully, and hanged irons upon them, and led them in chains up and down the fair, for an example and terror to others, lest any should speak in their behalf, or join themselves unto them. But Christian and Faithful behaved themselves yet more wisely and received the ignominy and shame that was cast upon them with so much meekness and patience, that it won to their side several of the men in the fair. This put the others into a greater rage, insomuch that they planned the death of these two men. Wherefore they threatened that they should die for the abuse they had done, and for deluding the men of the fair.

... When the time was come, they were brought before their enemies and arraigned. The judge's name was Lord Hate-good; their indictment was …this: "That they were enemies to, and disturbers of, the trade; that they had made commotions and divisions in the town and had won a party to their own dangerous opinions, in contempt of the law of their prince."

Then Faithful began to answer, “I have only set myself against that which had set itself against Him that is higher than the highest. And, …as for disturbance, I make none, being myself a man of peace: the parties that were won to us, were won by beholding our truth and innocence, and they are only turned from the worse to the better. And as to the king you talk of, since he is Beelzebub, the enemy of our Lord, I defy him and all his angels! - The Pilgrim's Progress.

Faithful and Christian did nothing except standout because they were different from Vanity fair, but in this sinful world that will be enough. Finally, lets look at verses 6-8.

Designation of Life 

Numbers 6:6-8
 All the days that he separateth himself unto the LORD he shall come at no dead body.  He shall not make himself unclean for his father, or for his mother, for his brother, or for his sister, when they die: because the consecration of his God is upon his head.  All the days of his separation he is holy unto the LORD.

The Nazarite Was to Avoid The Dead

The Nazarite, was a representation of the living God of Israel, therefore, he could not be associated with death while he was under the Nazarite vow.
He could not attend funerals even if they were his own family. If he accidentally came in contact with a dead body, he was to cut his hair and begin the vow anew.

He was to be holy and represent the living God and nothing could interfere with that message and symbol.

Let The Dead Bury The Dead

 We as Christians are also separated ones in this world. The word Holy means separated and the word saint comes from that some root meaning. As an holy people, as saints we should not let the death of sin and this world obscure the image of God we represent.

No Contamination - 2 Corinthians 7:1. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

No fellowship. - Ephesians 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

No love - 1 John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

No entanglements – 2 Timothy 2:4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

Christians are not to be associated with this dead world but instead be yoked, joined to, Christ.

Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  30 For my yoke [is] easy, and my burden is light.
In case you don’t realize it, there is only room for one other in our yoke. We cannot be be joined to this world and joined to the Lord Jesus Christ at the same time.

2 Corinthians 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; …

 Illustration:  My Grandfather calls about going to Bible College.

"Let the Dead bury the dead." It was the most direct challenge I had ever had about surrendering and serving God. Do you know what happened? Well you should because I’m standing here and not in Yuma, Arizona cleaning swimming pools. This year is LeeOra’s and my 40th year serving the Lord as pastor and wife. We let the dead bury the dead and separated ourselves to the Lord and his service.


 Completion of the Vow

The Nazirite who came to the end of the time of their vow, would come to the high priest with offerings and sacrifices. First a year-old ewe lamb was offered for a sin offering, because even though he was separated to the Lord, the Nazirite was not sinless. Then a year-old male lamb was offered as a burnt offering, this was a symbol of complete dedication God. Then with a basket of unleavened bread, a ram was given for a peace offering, which represented fellowship, also was given a meal offering and the drink offering.  The bread and the peace offering would be part of a fellowship meal that the now finished Nazarite would share with others. The priest and his family would also take their share of the offerings, as God had appointed that this was how the workers of the tabernacle and temple were supported.

I believe that the Christian, in a sense should see themselves as lifelong Nazarites, no not through the physical things, like abstaining from grapes, the growing of hair and beards or the prohibition against contact with the dead, but a lifelong commitment to being dedicated to God and separated from this world as those who are a holy priesthood as a people. To hold to that application then, at the end of our life we also would come before our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ and there we would give our sacrifices our offerings to him. But what could we give, not a ram or bread, those things were but symbols. We now at the end of our life must present something real, to the one who we have served with our life. I thin we see a picture of this final offering to the Lord in …

Revelation 4:8-11
 And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.  And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,  The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,  Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

At the completion of our vow, the end of our time on earth, the only thing we can offering is the crown of life, laid at the feet of our Savior. That crown which was the reward of all that we did, in this life, all that we sacrificed, all that we gave all that we suffered, the very life we lived and the death we died will be laid at the feet of our Savior who gave all for us.

For some the crown will be forged in a moment of great sacrifice and martyrdom, others from a long life lived faithfully and humbly in obscure service. Some crowns will be but a golden circlet while others will surpass the most elaborate crowns of any monarch on earth. But no matter the leanness or the greatness, every crown will be laid at the feet of Jesus. That will be my sacrifice, my offering at the end of my life. I pray that in God’s grace and strength I will have live that life dedicated to Him.

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