Monday, June 23, 2014

The Nazarite Vow - Part 1

I have been away in another state most of last week caring for a relative having surgery. Things went well. They are not home yet but they are on the road to recovery. It was an interesting time... away from home and being set apart for a different purpose.

Since late Saturday night I have been thinking and reading about the Nazarite vow. The framework for this vow was laid out in Numbers chapter 6.

"Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When either a man or a woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to the LORD, he shall separate himself from wine and strong drink. He shall drink no vinegar made from wine or strong drink and shall not drink any juice of grapes or eat grapes, fresh or dried. All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine, not even the seeds or the skins. "All the days of his vow of separation, no razor shall touch his head. Until the time is completed for which he separates himself to the LORD, he shall be holy. He shall let the locks of hair of his head grow long. All the days that he separates himself to the LORD he shall not go near a dead body. Not even for his father or for his mother, for brother or sister, if they die, shall he make himself unclean, because his separation to God is on his head. All the days of his separation he is holy to the LORD." - Numbers 6:2-8 ESV

No grapes, no razors and no association with death.

Three Biblical examples come to mind when we think of this vow, Samuel, Sampson and John the Baptist, but they are all extreme cases their parents committed them to the vow before birth for one reason or another. This vow was set up to be a voluntary one that a person did for a set period of time of their own choosing and scheduled with the temple so that the end of it could be accomplished by the preisthood of the day.

Every Nazarite would lose his or her hair at the end of the vow. Unlike Sampson who had his head shaved the Nazarite would willing do it to themselves.

"And the Nazarite 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." - Numbers 6:18 ESV

We can look at the three Biblical examples of the vow and see how being 'holy unto the Lord' shaped their lives. It is a good study... Samuel embraced it... Sampson lived in the contradiction of it... John lived in isolation because of it.

What about Jesus? This vow like the whole of the Hebrew scripture points to Him. His life as depicted in the Gospels contradicts the requirements of a lifelong Nazarite. No mention is made of His hair and He often seems to come in contact with grapes and death.

But the vow was designing to be for a period of time and not lifelong.

" 'I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.' And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives." - Matthew 26:29-30 ESV

He says this at the end of the last supper... It is a declaration... a vow... He is readying Himself for the time to come when He will become the offering for all of mankind. That is one application.

Jesus now sits in Heaven on a throne. Still separated from the grape, the razor and death. He sits in intercession for us... set apart as a priest of a unique order forever but there will be a day at return when He will drink wine again with His disciples who became Apostles. It will be a great day.


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