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Numbers 6:115comment (0)

December 1, 2011

By Dale Younce

Related Scripture: Numbers 6:115

Explore the Bible
Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile

Stay True to Your Commitments
Numbers 6:1–15

One would like to think most adults start off intending to keep all the commitments they make. Experience shows, however, that far too often and for a multitude of reasons, adults fail to stay true to their commitments. Christians who make commitments to serving God through the church are not immune from challenges to completing their commitments. When Christians make commitments to serve the Lord, He is pleased. When they stay true to those commitments, God is honored. An Old Testament example of honoring God by keeping one’s commitments is found in the Nazirite vow.

Take Your Commitments Seriously (1–8)
Moses taught, as part of the Mosaic Law, the keeping of the Nazirite vow. Nazirite, from a verb meaning “to separate” or “abstain,” referred to anyone, male or female, who would bind himself or herself with a specific vow of consecration in order to be set apart for God’s service. This obligation was either for life (Samson — Judges 13:4–5, Samuel — 1 Samuel 1:11; John the Baptizer — Luke 1:15) or a specific period of time.

During the period of his or her vow, the Nazirite was obligated to abstain from wine, grapes, raisins — every product of the vine (including the grape’s seeds and skin) — and every kind of intoxicating drink. This abstinence was not merely a way to maintain sobriety as a necessary component of one’s service to the Lord, but it served as a symbol of the renunciation of those weaknesses of the flesh that tend to subvert dedication to the Lord.  

Furthermore the Nazirite was forbidden to cut his or her hair during the days of consecration. Since female Nazirites would already have long hair, perhaps they left it loose and unkempt to indicate their devotion. The male Nazirite’s long, uncut hair was a symbol of strength and abundant vitality worn in honor of the Lord as a sign that he belonged to God and had devoted himself to the Lord with all his vital power.

The Nazirite vow was voluntary, open to both men and women and intended to stimulate, above all else, total devotion to God. Like Nazirites, Christians demonstrate they are serious about their commitments to serve the Lord when they understand and willingly adopt lifestyle demands that honor Him.

Rededicate Yourself When Needed (9–12)
The Nazirite could not approach a dead body, even if it were that of a close relative. If a Nazirite did touch a dead person accidentally, then he or she would be defiled and required to undergo certain rituals and recommence the full period of the vow. On the seventh day after defilement, the Nazirite would shave his or her head. Hair, the outward symbol of dedication, was defiled. This defiled hair was not burned as a sacrifice as would be done by a Nazirite who did complete the vow undefiled. On the eighth day, the defiled Nazirite met the priest at the altar of burnt offerings and there offered specified sacrifices: a pigeon as a sin offering, a pigeon as a burnt offering and a lamb as a trespass offering. An Israelite who took a Nazirite vow and unintentionally became defiled could offer appropriate sacrifices and be rededicated to the vow. Because the Lord is gracious and desires that His people serve Him faithfully, Christians who falter in their commitments of service also can seek His forgiveness and rededicate themselves to Him.

Honor God From Start to Finish (13–15)
When the Nazirite had successfully completed a period of dedication, he or she brought to the priest the appropriate offerings, part of which became a fellowship meal at the tabernacle with friends. One of the more important aspects of the offerings was the Nazirite’s head being shaved at the end of the service period and the hair placed on the altar and burned. Whether in short-term service commitments or lifelong vocational ministry, Christians, like Nazirites, keep as their paramount goal that of honoring God from start to finish.

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