October 8th 2019 – Numbers 6:13-21

'13 “And this is the law for the Nazirite, when the time of his separation has been completed: he shall be brought to the entrance of the tent of meeting, 14 and he shall bring his gift to the Lord, one male lamb a year old without blemish for a burnt offering, and one ewe lamb a year old without blemish as a sin offering, and one ram without blemish as a peace offering, 15 and a basket of unleavened bread, loaves of fine flour mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers smeared with oil, and their grain offering and their drink offerings. 16 And the priest shall bring them before the Lord and offer his sin offering and his burnt offering, 17 and he shall offer the ram as a sacrifice of peace offering to the Lord, with the basket of unleavened bread. The priest shall offer also its grain offering and its drink offering. 18 And the Nazirite shall shave his consecrated head at the entrance of the tent of meeting and shall take the hair from his consecrated head and put it on the fire that is under the sacrifice of the peace offering. 19 And the priest shall take the shoulder of the ram, when it is boiled, and one unleavened loaf out of the basket and one unleavened wafer, and shall put them on the hands of the Nazirite, after he has shaved the hair of his consecration, 20 and the priest shall wave them for a wave offering before the Lord. They are a holy portion for the priest, together with the breast that is waved and the thigh that is contributed. And after that the Nazirite may drink wine.

21 “This is the law of the Nazirite. But if he vows an offering to the Lord above his Nazirite vow, as he can afford, in exact accordance with the vow that he takes, then he shall do in addition to the law of the Nazirite."

Numbers 6:13-21

The question of whether there is a place in the Christian life for a temporary vow is an important one. Paul himself seems to have taken such vows on occasion (cf Acts 18:18, 21:1826), and we should bear in mind that echoes of the Nazarite vow seem to ring in Paul's teaching also, as for example in 1 Corinthians 6:13, 'the body is for the Lord, and the Lord for the body', and 1 Corinthians 10:31, 'eat or drink... to the glory of God'. The apostle's teach- ing about 'the good things of life' is a good starting point: 'I will not be brought under the power of any', he says about the things that are lawful (1 Corinthians 6:12), and later in that same epistle he speaks of those 'that use the world, as not abusing it' (1 Corinthians 7:31). These statements, and others in similar vein, are an indication of Paul's detachment from 'things'. But how is the believer to be sure that this obtains in his case at any given time? How other, than by applying a temporary discipline to his life, and doing without them for a time, to reassure himself that underlying the daily routine of life he is, after all, really devoted to God? We must be careful, of course, not to have truck with any forms of legalism here, but it would do us all a great deal of good if this kind of discipline figured in our lives from time to time, to keep us on our spiritual toes. We can so easily deceive ourselves. Consider, for ex- ample, the good, legitimate pleasures and joys which God gives us to gladden our hearts. Do they take an undue place in our lives? Would it not be good to test ourselves here, to make sure that we are not in fact displacing God from His rightful place? If we did apply some such temporary vow, and kept away from these good, legitimate, gladdening gifts of God for a time, and found ourselves utterly preoccupied with them, in the want of them, it would be some indication, would it not, of just how much store we had been setting by them, without realising it, and of how little we could afford to do without them - how much, in fact, they had a hold upon us?