Water for the Thirsty
Weekly Devotional

Water for the Thirsty

The Nazirite Vow

Weekly Devotional

‘As the deer pants for streams of water so my soul pants for you, O God’. (Psalm 42:1)
‘…Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink”…’ (John 7:37)

The Nazirite Vow in Numbers 6 could be taken by any man or woman (i.e., not just a Levite) and was entirely voluntary. It was normally undertaken for an extended period of time, and culminated in certain prescribed offerings and sacrifices (Numbers 6:13­21).

The vow itself was designed to separate someone out for the Lord,

‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them: 'If a man or woman wants to make a special vow, a vow of separation to the LORD as a Nazirite’ (V. 2)
'During the entire period of his vow of separation no razor may be used on his head. He must be holy until the period of his separation to the LORD is over; he must let the hair of his head grow long. Throughout the period of his separation to the LORD he must not go near a dead body. Even if his own father or mother or brother or sister dies, he must not make himself ceremonially unclean on account of them, because the symbol of his separation to God is on his head. Throughout the period of his separation he is consecrated to the LORD’. (V.5-8)

The Nazirite was to mark out his or her vow by three abstinences.

1. For the duration of the vow, his or her hair was not to be cut

This was so much a mark of the individual’s separation to God that when the vow came to an end, the hair that had grown throughout the duration of the vow was to be cut off and burned in the fellowship offering (6:18).

2. The Nazirite was to keep out of contact with corpses

That could mean real hardship if, for instance, a relative died during the period of the vow. If someone suddenly died in the presence of a Nazirite, the inevitable defilement, which could be construed as defiling the hair that he had dedicated (6:9), had to be removed by prescribed ritual and sacrifice, including shaving off the defiled hair (6:9-12).

3. The Nazirite was to abstain from all alcohol until the termination of the vow

This too was something of a privation, for wine was a common drink, not least at the great festivals.

The symbolism here is very interesting.

  1. That which is holy belongs exclusively to the Lord and his use. The symbol was the hair, dedicated to the Lord and therefore not cut until it was offered in sacrifice.
  2. That which is holy belongs to the living God, not to the realm of death and decay, which arise from the horror of sin. So the Nazirites were to abstain from coming into contact with dead persons.
  3. That which is holy finds its centre and delight in God. It does not need the artificial “high” of alcohol; still less does it want to be controlled by anyone or anything other than God himself.

How, then, does all this relate to Christians under the new covenant?

Well we too are called to be holy, are to dedicate ourselves wholly to God, avoid all that belongs to the realm of sin and death, and be slaves to no one and nothing save Jesus.

Have a good week separating yourself to the Lord.

Pastor Barry

9th August 2009

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