Friday, March 22, 2024

2024.03.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Numbers 6:1–21

Read Numbers 6:1–21

Questions from the Scripture text:  Who spoke to whom in Numbers 6:1? To whom was he to speak (Numbers 6:2)? Who might offer an offering-vow? What sort? To do what to himself? Unto Whom? From what shall he separate himself (Numbers 6:3)? What must he not drink or eat, for how long (Numbers 6:3-4)? What else must not be done to him for that long (Numbers 6:5)? What will he be, until that day? Then what shall he do after that day? What else mustn’t he do all those days (Numbers 6:6)? Not even for whom (Numbers 6:7)? How does Numbers 6:8 summarize all of this? What might happen to him (Numbers 6:9)? What must he do when he is cleansed? What does he do on the next day (Numbers 6:10)? Why two turtledoves (Numbers 6:11)? From where does he now begin counting the days of his vow (Numbers 6:12)? What happens to him after the days are completed (Numbers 6:13)? What does he present for what offerings (Numbers 6:14-15)? Who brings him/this before YHWH (Numbers 6:16)? What does he offer as what (Numbers 6:16-17)? Then what does the Nazirite do to his head and with the hair (Numbers 6:18)? What does the priest now do and keep (Numbers 6:19-20)? And what does the Nazirite drink? How does Numbers 6:21 summarize this section?

What is the point of a Nazirite vow? Numbers 6:1–21 prepares us for the evening sermon on the Lord’s Day. In these twenty-one verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that, all of God’s people must be consecrated to Him as holy, finding in Him their happiness and their fellowship. 

Holy to the Lord. Because of the foreignness to us of the ceremonial system, we tend to focus on what we are separated from. And, indeed, much of the text is spent spelling this out. But the emphasis of the separation is not from what the person is separated, but unto Whom the Nazirite is separated. This is a sort of fast or consecration that goes beyond the length of time of a food fast (as evidenced by the growth of the hair). But the purpose is the same: drawing near to YHWH in heart and mind and dwelling upon Him and His Word. Throughout the passage, the word (NZR, separate) from which we get Nazarite is used to say that he is separated unto God and holy unto God.

Anyone and everyone can be holy. One of the reasons that we no longer perform Nazarite vows is that if we continued to keep the laws connected to Aaron’s priesthood, we would be diminishing/denying Christ’s priesthood (cf. Hebrews 7:12). Another reason is that this shadow has been fulfilled in the priesthood of all believers. But in the context of Leviticus and Numbers, this is a marvelously “equal opportunity holiness.” NKJ’s “consecrates” in Numbers 6:2 translates a verb that means to “work a wonder,” and wonderful this is.

Not just men but women can do it, Numbers 6:2. And the pigeons in Numbers 6:10 being the lowest cost sin/ascension offerings, there is an emphasis that not just rich but poor can do it. And the level of the separation from dead bodies in Numbers 6:6-7 is above even that of the ordinary priests, equal to that of the high priesthood. But not just a son of Aaron, or even a Levite, can enter into such a vow of holiness. One from any tribe can do it. How great is our privilege now, in Christ, to be seated with Him in heaven (cf. Ephesians 1:3, Ephesians 1:20, Ephesians 2:6), and to come beyond the veil through union with Him (cf. Hebrews 10:19–21)! But what a great blessing, even in the Mosaic administration, God gave all His saints, that any of them could take a Nazirite vow.

Holiness of life and happiness of heart unto YHWH. The three specific things from which a Nazarite must refrain teach various things about this time of holiness unto the Lord. 

First, the refraining from wine is especially a refraining from happiness and fellowship in/from creatures. While there were other produce of the land that were rich and beneficial (olives, figs, grain, etc.), wine was especially used by God to gladden the heart and cement relationships. In fact, He continues to use it for this purpose not only after its common use, but in the sacramental use of the Lord’s Supper. By setting wine aside for the time of the separation, the separate one would be directed especially to the Lord for his happiness and belonging.

Second, he is to focus on the inward appearance of the heart unto the Lord. With respect to the hair, the instruction is not only negative (no razor shall cross his head) but positive (he shall let the hair of his head become great). Well-groomed and arranged hair was an important part of a man’s or woman’s public dignity, but here they are required to “let themselves go” (as we might say today in English) as far as their hair is concerned. As we have been hearing in Matthew 6:1–18 the purpose here is not that they would make a display of their vow, but rather that they would care about how they appear to God more than how they appear to men.

Third, he is to be devoted especially to the worship of God. We’ve mentioned that Numbers 6:6-8 is a high-priestly level requirement. But there is likely more to this requirement than simply maintaining the same level of ceremonial cleanliness. At the very least, the Nazirite is supposed to live in a way that he could engage in public worship at any time. Possibly, he is even to spend as much of his time as possible at the tabernacle itself (so near as he is permitted to go), for the duration of his vow. 

The Lord’s Day, of course, functions in the same way for believers. So also our secret and family worship, morning and evening. And though we must not engage in a Nazirite vow now (it would be wrong, even, to refrain from wine, when it is a necessary part of the happiness and fellowship in Christ in the Supper), yet it is right and good for the Christian to vow unto the Lord such things as His Word commands (as we recently heard opened from Matthew 5:33–37), and to fast in a Sabbath-shaped way (cf. Matthew 6:16–18, cf. Isaiah 58). Even married couples may (though only for a limited time, and only for the specific purpose of fasting and prayer) take a time of refraining from coming together as husband and wife (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:5).

So, as the Lord has commanded certain seasons for us, and has permitted others, let us use the means that He has given us to rejoice in our holiness to the Lord in Jesus, and to find the Lord Himself as our great happiness and fellowship!

What times/ways has God required of you for attending upon means of grace that communicate Him as your happiness and fellowship? What other opportunities do you take besides these? How are you enjoying, or making use of, Christ’s Priesthood (and your priesthood in Him), which has obsoleted the Nazirite vow?

Sample prayer:  Thank You, Lord, for giving us union with Christ, that in Him, You would be our great blessedness, and that our nearest and greatest intimacy is that which we have with You. Grant that we would take the opportunities that You give us to meditate upon You and Your Word. And bless those opportunities to us by Your Spirit, which we ask through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP15 “Within Your Tent Who Will Reside?” or TPH24B “The Earth and Its Riches” 

No comments:

Post a Comment