The Nazarite Vow

Consecration to God


“When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the LORD: He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink … no razor shall come upon his head … he shall be holy” (Numbers 6:2,3,5).

by George Tabac

The Nazarite Vow in Numbers 6 was a vow taken for a month, a year, or
it could be taken for a lifetime. It is a beautiful picture of a life of consecration. The Scriptures tell us of three who were Nazarites for life: Samson, Samuel, and John the Baptist.

Numbers 6:2 — “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow
of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto God.”

One of the prerequisites of consecration is the word “when.” This word implies that the consecration vow was not obligatory. It was completely voluntary. So it must be with us. Our consecration must be voluntary with a joyful willingness that permeates our being to want to fully lay down our life in the service of God.

Separate Themselves Unto God

The Hebrew word for “Nazarite” is the word nazir. It literally means to separate, to have oneself separated or consecrated, set apart to a sacred purpose.

Numbers 6:3 — “He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of strong drink, [nor] drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes or dried.”

A Nazarite was not to partake of anything made from grapes. Wine is symbolic of several things. Here it represents earthly or worldly pleasures, from the exhilaration it brings. In addition, wine beclouds the senses.
Thus it fittingly symbolizes earthly pleasures which can so easily becloud our senses and distract us from our goal. Our life should be one of self-denial, refraining from earthly pleasures that in any way would impair our heavenly vision, our nearness to the Lord, and our service to God.

Sometimes our fallen flesh might rationalize a bit and tell us, “Oh, what harm could there possibly be in partaking in a little of this earthly item. It really is not sinful at all. We all need to have a certain amount of relaxation.”

There are many good, wonderful things in this life that are not sinful of themselves. But we need to evaluate their overall effect upon our
spirituality. Do they draw us nearer to God, or do they exert a distracting and weakening influence upon our spiritual life?

We need to shun all things that would draw us aside. Not only was the Nazarite to forego drinking wine, but he was not even to partake of “moist grapes,” nor even dried ones. The Nazarite was not even to partake of a raisin. A raisin! What harm could it possibly do?

Here we see the lesson that we must be keen to avoid not only wine itself but that which reminds us of it and could become a temptation, the little grape, or the dry raisin. As the tiniest sin opens the way for greater ones, so we need to be on guard to avoid any earthly environment or pleasure tempting us to forbidden things, drawing us away from a life of sacrifice
and self-denial.

We live in a time of great temporal prosperity. Most everyone can afford more and more of the good things of life. Perhaps they are things the New Creature would be better off without. Earthly prosperity can easily lead away from a life of sacrifice. We may feel that if we cannot afford something, this is self-denial. But is it? We think not! Only when we can afford something, but make a conscious decision to deny it for ourselves, is it sacrificial self-denial.

But it does not end here. It also addresses those things that would to the least extent tempt us further. Notice verse four. Not only was the
Nazarite to refrain from wine, moist grapes, or raisins, but “all the days
of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk.” A Nazarite was not to eat anything that had in the slightest degree been made of the little seeds of the grape, its skin, or the vine.

Our Father wanted to drive the lesson home of avoiding temptation, being separated from worldly pleasure, and fleshly gratification. Not even the seeds! Not only are we to avoid seemingly insignificant worldly pleasures themselves, we must avoid even the “seed” thoughts that could lead to them.

On occasion, we may think or hear, “If I was not in the truth, I could really enjoy that sport, or home, or clothes, or job,” or whatever it might be. Our Nazarite vow lesson is that we must strive to avoid these seed thoughts of looking back, for if we are not careful these seeds could sprout into action. May we strive to avoid even the seeds that come from the grapevine,
everything that can dull our heavenly vision.

Hair Was Never to Be Cut

Numbers 6:5 — “All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head; until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separated himself unto the Lord, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow.”

The Nazarite’s hair not being cut, but growing continuously, was a visible profession that this one indeed was different from others. It pictured how a full and complete consecration will manifest itself to others by the fruit of the Spirit being manifested in all aspects of life. In addition, the uncut hair was a symbol that the Nazarite placed himself in complete submission, to follow God’s will, not his own.

So with us. Our consecration is not to be secret, known only to ourselves and God, or perhaps as the monks in a monastery isolating themselves from others. Rather, as a flag is set high upon the mast of a ship proclaiming to all
what country it belongs, the Nazarite life — our life — is to manifest to
others the Spirit of God to all we meet.

We need to ask ourselves, “Is our standard flying high, is our life like Jesus who came not to be ministered to but to minister to others? Do all those we meet, even though it be for just a brief period, leave our company blessed a little — refreshed — uplifted? Do they know they have been with a
Nazarite?”

Is our example like that mentioned in the January 8 Manna comment? “The elect Church of Christ should be the most polished, the most refined, the most polite, the most generous, the most kind, of all the people in the world.”

Jesus said in Matthew 5:14-16, “Ye are the light of the world, a city set upon a hill which cannot be hid … let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.” May
we so live that others might know we have walked with God.

Not to Come Near a Dead Body

Numbers 6:6-8 — “All the days that he separateth himself unto the Lord he shall come at no dead body. He shall not make himself unclean for his father, or for his mother, for his brother, or for his sister when they die: because the consecration of his God is upon his head. All the days of his separation he is holy unto Jehovah.”

Because the Nazarite was consecrated and holy to God, he was not to approach a dead person, even if it was his own mother, father, brother, or sister. Death is a result of original sin. So, the lesson here, in symbol, shows how a consecrated one must keep himself pure and holy, avoiding contact with anything sinful in nature. We live in the world, a world full of sin,
yet we must be separate and not part of it.

In the Nazarite vow it was reasonable for one to avoid contact with death. But why does it go to the extreme, stating the Nazarite could not even approach the closest relative — one’s own father, mother, brother, or sister?

The lesson seems to be that we must avoid all contact with anything or
anyone, that would draw us away from the Lord, or influence us to sin. It does not mean that we are not to love our families. Rather, if we find any of these relationships drawing us away from God, then even that must be
avoided.

Avoiding the world, being separate, is not an easy thing to do. All of us by nature desire to have the approval of others. We want to be well thought of. So, if we are not careful we may find ourselves standing on the world’s level, seeking its approval. It is easy for the flesh to want to conform and not be different, but while we do, we really are touching unclean things,
bowing down to them, accepting the world’s customs, its principles, its language, its styles and clothes, its hairdos, its music, all because we may fear being looked upon as a bit peculiar if we do not.

This may be difficult for younger brethren. The world has a constant pressure to follow the crowd — do not be different from others. May we remember this lesson of the Nazarite?

This is especially true in our secular employment. We may reason, “I have to go along a little with the world to keep my job.” Do we? We hear the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:17, “Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you.”

Provision for Accidently Coming in Contact with Death

God made a provision for unexpected contact with death. Verses 9-12: “If any man die very suddenly by him, and he hath defiled the head of his consecration; then he shall shave his head in the day of his cleansing, on the seventh day shall he shave it. And on the eighth day, he shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons, to the priest, to the door of the tabernacle of
the congregation: And the priest shall offer the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering, and make an atonement for him, for that he sinned by the dead, and shall hallow his head that same day.”

Why this special provision? It seems the individual had little to do with what happened. The man suddenly died next to him. It was something accidental, beyond his control.

This lesson refers to sins of weakness we thought we had overcome. We may go along smoothly in our Christian walk but suddenly this weakness overtakes us. A temptation given us by Satan takes us by surprise and in a moment of weakness we falter. We need to be on guard against those things, situations, or environments, that stimulate a weakness in us. The
results of a single sinful thought, a sinful look, or one sinful word is enough to break that inner communion we have with our Father. We may
lose the sense of His presence, His love, His care, His overruling providence.

When that happens, what should we do? God knows our frame. He has made provisions for us. Our type shows we must immediately come to the Father and beseech his forgiveness for what we have done. We must apply
our hearts to the lesson given here of offering a sin-offering and a burnt offering. We must appropriate to ourselves the merit of Christ’s sacrifice. We are told that if we confess our sins to God, He will forgive us, cover us, look at us through the robe of Christ’s righteousness.

The cleansing of the Nazarite who was in contact with death was to last for seven days and on the seventh day he was to shave off his hair. The seven days may picture a complete or total attitude of repentance.

Following the seven days of cleansing and hair removal, sacrifices were offered on the eighth day. Why the eighth day? The eighth day is also the first day of the week. In the New Testament, on the first day of the week, Jesus was raised. So the eighth day here could picture the resurrection life, a new beginning, a renewed determination to walk a more circumspect life.

Verse 12 brings a similar lesson to our attention. Because of the accidental contact with death, “the days that were before shall be lost because his separation was defiled.” The Nazarite Vow could be taken for a period of a month, a year, or for life. Assuming a vow was for a month, if on the last day before the month was up he sinned, then he could renew his vow and start afresh. So, with us, we must rise up again. We must beseech the Father’s forgiveness through the merit of our Lord and continue pressing on to the completion of our vow in death.

Completion of the Nazarite’s Earthly Course

The subsequent verses picture what follows the end of a faithful antitypical Nazarite’s earthly course. “This is the law of the Nazarite when the days of his separation are fulfilled.” “He shall be brought unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: And he shall offer his offering unto Jehovah, one he lamb of the first year without blemish for a burnt offering, and one ewe lamb of the first year without blemish for a sin offering, and one ram without blemish for peace offerings.”

This portrays the time when the consecrated Christian finishes his course, about to close his eyes in death and open them in the realms of joy beyond. They will acknowledge that they had nothing to trust in of their own but the
blood of Christ, pictured by the Lamb, for the best things they had done were mixed with sin and needed forgiveness. They will give glory to
God, acknowledging that their service was acceptable only because of the offering that went before — our Lord Jesus as a sin offering covering our unavoidable imperfections.

Together with the sin offering, a burnt offering was offered. The question may arise, Why is it, that whenever there is a sin-offering, there was a burnt offering that was offered with it? Why these two sacrifices together? We believe the two types of sacrifices picture two views of the same sacrifice.

No sin-offering, or trespass offering, was ever considered as being a sweet savor unto the Lord. In fact, no offering that had in any way been identified with, or for, sins brought God pleasure, for it was a legal necessity to satisfy justice. The fact that there had to be a life given was not a sweet savor.
Rather, it was a painful necessity to bring mankind back to God.

The second view of the sacrifice was the burnt offering. Burnt and peace offerings were often termed a sweet savor unto God. It is not stated here in the Nazarite Vow, but it is in other places. The sweet savor sacrifices express that God greatly appreciates the love and willingness that prompted our Lord and his body members to give their lives for others. They express how much God appreciates and approves the attitude of sacrifice for others.

Numbers 6:15 — Along with these sacrifices there was a “basket of unleavened bread, cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, and wafers of unleavened bread anointed with oil, and their meat [meal] offering, and their drink offerings.” These symbolized the three fundamental aspects of consecration, namely justification, sanctification, and glorification. Without these no consecration is complete.

The unleavened cake, meaning without sin, represents the righteousness of the man Christ Jesus and the imputed righteousness and purity of the Church — Justification.

There was another unleavened cake, one mingled with oil. Oil represents the holy Spirit, the indwelling of the spirit of God within us — Sanctification.

Thirdly were wafers anointed with oil, completely covered. This could picture the final, complete anointing that the Church will receive at glorification, when the Church will be installed into office as Priests and Kings.

Numbers 6:17, 18: “He shall offer the ram for a sacrifice of peace offerings unto Jehovah, with the basket of unleavened bread: the priest shall offer also his meat [meal] offering, and his drink offering. And the Nazarite shall
shave the head of his separation at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall take the hair of the head of his separation, and put it in the fire which is under the sacrifice of the peace offerings.”

In the type a peace offering followed the sin and burnt offerings,
showing that the basis for accepting the peace offering was the sin
offering of Christ preceding. A peace offering pictured the peace
that will come between mankind and God at the completion of the Nazarite class.

Because of their sacrifices there will be a better covenant with a better mediator. The peace offering shows that our consecration will result in the
future blessing of mankind. Our present life prepares us for our future work as Kings and Priests to restore and to bless the world.

Along with this peace offering the Nazarite was to shave off all the hair on his head and cast it into the fire that burned underneath the peace offering.
The Nazarite during the period of the vow was to wear his hair uncut as a symbol of his submission and consecration to God. Now when the sacrifice is complete, it was natural that the hair, a symbol of one’s position, should be cut off and offered to God at the sanctuary. This beautifully symbolizes how those who finish their course faithfully will give all honor and all glory to God the Father. For it was only because of His wonderful grace and sustaining help and the blessings we receive from His hands that we can come to Him and be part of this peace offering.

There is a parallel symbol in Revelation 4:10, perhaps speaking of the twenty-four courses of the priesthood. “The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, ‘Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.’” They cast their crowns before the throne to give all honor to God. Similarly, the Nazarite’s crowning hair was cast into the peace offering fire to give all honor to God for the privilege of sharing in the peace offering.

Numbers 6:19, 20 — “The priest shall take the sodden shoulder of the ram, and one unleavened cake out of the basket, and one unleavened wafer, and shall put them upon the hands of the Nazarite, after the hair of his separation is shaven: And the priest shall wave them [his hands under the Nazarite] for a wave offering before Jehovah: this is holy for the priest,
with the wave breast and heave shoulder: and after that the Nazarite may drink wine.”

Here is another symbol of how this consecration that will result in peace
was unto death. The priest took the shoulder of the ram and placed it on the hands of the Nazarite who then waved this offering before God until finally the priest took it off his hands — representing the end of our course in death.

Our sacrifice will then be complete. Then, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, we shall pass beyond the vail to the glory and presence of our Lord and of our God. Notice what will follow: “and after that the Nazarite may
drink wine.”

Our minds go back to the Memorial event that took place the night before our Lord’s death. Matthew 26:27: “He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it, for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day
when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” So it will be, if we are faithful in fulfilling our vows of consecration to be dead with him, then we will be able to drink wine with our Lord anew in that kingdom with all
the joys that it will there imply.

After this ceremony respecting the Nazarite is complete, an appropriate blessing follows in verses 22-27: “Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, Jehovah bless thee, and keep thee: Jehovah make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: Jehovah
lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. And they [the faithful Nazarites] shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I
will bless them.”

What a fitting blessing to result at the culmination of this class. The final purpose of the Nazarite type is to depict how they will become merciful and sympathetic priests to bless all mankind, who becoming Israelites indeed, will live in everlasting peace and harmony with their Creator.

May we strive with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength to be accounted worthy to be members of this class.

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