October 9th 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

Paul was able to write from his Roman prison, 'I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need' (Philippians 4:12). A true detachment was the dis- tinctive mark of his life. It is here that we see the point of the Nazarite going back to ordinary life after the fulfilment of the vow. It is possible for the believer to have the full enjoyment of the legitimate gifts of God without being worldly or preoccupied with them, because they mean precisely nothing to him in the deepest sense (he is 'in the world' but not 'of the world'), just as it is possible to be physically cut off from them all and still be worldly at heart. This is an area of life in which Christians require to think more honestly than they are often prepared to do. David speaks in Psalm 131 of behaving and quieting himself as a child that is weaned of his mother, and adds 'My soul is even as a weaned child'. This is the point. The question that the Nazarite vow poses for us is: 'Are we weaned from our dependence on things, or do they hold us, whether we have them or do not have them? A man can be out- wardly separate from the world, and yet have the world in his heart, just as a man of the world may be fully weaned in spirit from all these things.'

The most important lesson, however, to be learned about this vow lies in its being a symbol of lifelong separation unto God. This, in fact, is the challenge and summons of the gospel: consecration is not an optional ‘extra’; it is the only logical response we can make to the mercies of God in Christ (Romans 12:1, 2).