Nazarite Vow

January 8, 2017   Numbers 6Nazirite Vow 

 

     Ronnie Miller a pastor shares this story.  He stopped for breakfast one morning as he often did when he traveled.   As he was eating he saw a guy come in who looked familiar with long stringy hair. When he sat down a few tables over from Ron he realized it was a guy he grew up with in high school.   He was reading the paper and eating so as Ron was leaving he went over and spoke to him.  They talked for a few minutes about their past, families and health.   Ron noticed when he came in he was a little unstable so Ron ask him how his health was holding up because they were about the same age.

   He said he had COPD, he had a bad stroke a few years ago and stayed in a nursing home in Elkin for over a year because he couldn’t walk and do for himself.   He said his wife was partially responsible for putting him there because she couldn’t lift him and care for him.   He agreed to be placed in a home because the doctors didn’t think he would ever walk again.  He began to tell me that while he was in that nursing home his wife of many years talked him into signing over his home and land into her name only. So he agreed because he thought his home for the rest of his life was that nursing facility.   Shortly after signing over the house and land to his wife she let a man move in with her.   He found out and he was devastated to say the least.   He said betrayed was a word he understood now like never before.

    The story doesn’t end there. His friend said a Chaplin visited him shortly after he found out about his wife, probably sent by one of the care takers he said.   He started explaining to Ron with a kind of smile on his face that the Chaplin began to tell him to turn it all over to God and He could fix the things in his life that was causing him depression and not caring about his appearance and hygiene.   You see, he wouldn’t let them cut his hair and being 65 years old and bed stricken for a year he wasn’t the prettiest sight to behold.    His friend said he looked at that Chaplin and ask him “have you ever heard of the Nazirite vow? The Chaplin said “yes I believe so…are you talking about the story of Samson?” My friend said “yes….exactly and I ask God if He would allow me to walk again, I would never cut my hair or drink alcohol and I would live for Him.   His friend said that it stunned the Chaplin so he prayed for him and left.   Within a few short weeks he was able to walk again, bought another home, and now lives alone with God being his only caretaker.   That is a very interesting story about making a commitment to God.  

     In Numbers 6 we see the rules for being a Nazirite.   A Nazirite comes from the Hebrew word that means to set apart or to dedicate.  Nazirite or Nazirites is used 12 times in the King James Bible all in the Old Testament and it is used 6 times in this chapter.  There were 4 things that the Nazirite had to do.  The first thing he or she had to do was abstain from wine.  We see that in verses 3 and 4.  They must abstain from wine and other fermented drink and must not drink vinegar made from wine or other fermented drink. They must not drink grape juice or eat grapes or raisins. As long as they remain under their Nazirite vow, they must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine, not even the seeds or skins.  They could not eat ripe fresh gapes nor the skins of grapes nor the seeds from grapes.  

     The next thing we see is that he or she cannot get a haircut. We see that in verse 5. ‘During the entire period of their Nazirite vow, no razor may be used on their head.   Their hair must grow and not be cut.  Usually people say there are 3 things they must do.   We also see in verse 5 they must be holy.  They must be holy until the period of their dedication to the Lord is over; they must let their hair grow long.  They must be holy.   It is a period of separation.  They are to be separated unto the Lord.   They are not to touch a dead body.  We read in verses 6 – 8 throughout the period of their dedication to the Lord, the Nazirite must not go near a dead body.    Even if their own father or mother or brother or sister dies, they must not make themselves ceremonially unclean on account of them, because the symbol of their dedication to God is on their head.     Throughout the period of their dedication, they are consecrated to the Lord. 

    The Nazirite was different from other people.  The symbol of their dedication was their hair.  Also they did not drink wine.  They were different.  They were separate.  They are to be holy.  Why would anyone want to be a Nazirite?   Why would you want to be different?  Why would you forgo the comforts and joys of the world?   Well I think if you want to walk close to God you will deny yourself.  A di8sciple of Jesus is disciplined.  That means you do certain things that others don’t do and it also means you give up; things that others don’t.  Joyce Meyers says that a lot of birds flock together but the eagle kind of soars by himself.   Would a person cheerfully give themselves to the Lord like that?   God loves a cheerful giver.  God blesses a cheerful giver.  

    Generally speaking this was a voluntary commitment.   A man or woman would give them self to the Lord for a period of time.  Sometimes the parents would dedicate a child but generally it was the choice of the person.  They would say I chose to dedicate myself to God.  I suppose that people wanted to become a Nazirite for different reasons.  Those blessed by the Lord would desire to become a Nazirite.    But we can believe that they wanted to draw closer to the Lord.   I believe they did it cheerfully.  I believe they wanted to separate from the world.   They chose not to cut their hair.   They chose not to touch a dead person and defile themselves.     They chose to be holy.  They chose to be dedicated to God.   They chose not to drink any wine.   It was a willing choice.  I believe they did it to please the lord.  Some do give to get.   I am reminded of the story I read about a girl overseas who brought a rather large offering to the Lord.   The missionaries ask her how she got that kind of money and she told them I wanted to bring an offering to the Lord that really means something.  She sold herself into slavery.  That speaks of a heart of love and that is so precious to God.   Do we freely give to the Lord?   Do we give with joy? 

    John Lavender tells about a stewardship incident in which a pastor had made an appeal in church for a great and worthy cause. He writes, “A certain woman, a member of the church, came to him and handed him a check for $50, asking at the same time if her gift was satisfactory. The pastor immediately replied, "If it represents you."  There was a moment of soul-searching thought and she asked to have the check returned to her. She left with it and a day or two later she returned handing the pastor a check for $5,000 and again asked the same question, "Is my gift satisfactory?" The pastor gave the same answer as before, "If it represents you." As before, a truth seemed to be driving deeply. After a few moments of hesitation she took back the check and left.  Later in the week she came again with a check. That time it was for $50,000. As she placed it in the pastor’s hand, she said, "After earnest, prayerful thought, I have come to the conclusion that this gift does represent me and I am happy to give it." Her happiness, her joy, her satisfaction came only after hearing God and making it “her work” as well.  Sometimes we do not get joy form the Lord because we do not give anything.   We have to be connected to the source of our joy and that is Jesus.   Jesus talked about the disciples having full joy.   Are we full of joy today?  

    There are many people who do not want to give anything.  They think every penny is mine and it is for my personal purposes.  I will spend it on myself.   There is no desire to give anything.  There is no sacrifice to God and no commitment to God.  The Nazirite said I want to go without wine.   The Nazirite said I want to give.    The rabbis said that wine brought joy to the people.  Why would the Lord have them give up wine?  Was wine right or wrong?   Drinking some wine is not sin.    Their joy was to be in God and not in the things of the world and that is what the Nazirite embraced.    Was Jesus a Nazirite?   Did Jesus touch dead bodies?   Did Jesus drink wine?   If Jesus drank wine it is not sin.   We know that Jesus was from Nazareth but that did not make him a Nazirite in the sense that we see in Numbers 6.   People said he was a Nazarene.   Some of the Jews despised Nazareth.  Nathaniel asked if anything good come from there. 

    If they became defiled they had to wait a week and shave their hair and then offer sacrifices.  The hair was the sign of dedication so it had to be cut and they lost time from that.   The person could rededicate them self to the Lord.   God’s mercies are new every day and every day is like a new day.  We ask for forgiveness and move ahead.   The righteous person falls and the Lord lifts them back up.  God offers mercy grace and forgiveness.  God does not write us off. 

    When the period of time of separation was over there was a formal service for the separation.  Now this is the law of the Nazirite when the period of their dedication is over. They are to be brought to the entrance to the tent of meeting.   There they are to present their offerings to the Lord: a year-old male lamb without defect for a burnt offering, a year-old ewe lamb without defect for a sin offering, a ram without defect for a fellowship offering, together with their grain offerings and drink offerings, and a basket of bread made with the finest flour and without yeast—thick loaves with olive oil mixed in, and thin loaves brushed with olive oil.    “‘The priest is to present all these before the Lord and make the sin offering and the burnt offering.    He is to present the basket of unleavened bread and is to sacrifice the ram as a fellowship offering to the Lord, together with its grain offering and drink offering. 

    “‘Then at the entrance to the tent of meeting, the Nazirite must shave off the hair that symbolizes their dedication. They are to take the hair and put it in the fire that is under the sacrifice of the fellowship offering.   “‘After the Nazirite has shaved off the hair that symbolizes their dedication, the priest is to place in their hands a boiled shoulder of the ram, and one thick loaf and one thin loaf from the basket, both made without yeast.    The priest shall then wave these before the Lord as a wave offering; they are holy and belong to the priest, together with the breast that was waved and the thigh that was presented. After that, the Nazirite may drink wine.

    Perhaps that seems a little strange for us.  This was a formal announcement of the end of his commitment.  The sin offering was to atone for any sin committed during the time of consecration.  The burn offering symbolizes complete surrender.  The fellowship offering points to the harmony between the person and the Lord. 

     I want to close with this illustration.   A number of yrs. ago a news headline told of 300 whales that had accidentally beached themselves and died. They were pursuing a school of sardines when they found themselves marooned in a bay at low tide. The small fish had lured these awesome sea giants to their death. The reporter concluded the article by saying: "The whales came to their violent demise by chasing small ends, by prostituting vast powers for insignificant goals". How many lives would that describe?