The discipleship vow is open to all. Only the Levities could be priests (Lev. 3:11-12). But the Nazarite vow of separation was not limited to any one group. It also was not restricted to men (Nu. 6:1; 30:3). All believers are part of God’s holy priesthood (1 Peter 2:5, 9; Rev. 1:6). Yet, not all believers are set apart for God. Many live in the flesh. Jesus spelled out the cost of discipleship for a disciple as opposed to a mere follower, just like the Nazarite vow (Lk. 9:57-62). Are you willing to become a disciple of the Lord, as opposed to a mere follower?
Dedicate yourself to God. The Nazarite vow was for someone to “dedicate” themselves to God (Nu. 6:1). God raised up the Nazarities, like the prophets, to serve Him (Amos 2:11). The discipleship vow was also a vow to serve Him. Many today would view a vow of separation as complete isolation from the world, like a monk or a nun living in a monastery. But the Nazarite vow did not prohibit a person for engaging in all worldly pleasures, just alcohol. They also spent time studying the Law, engaging in acts of service, and teaching others. Two examples include Samson (1 Sam. 1:11; Jdgs. 13:5) and John Baptist (Lk. 1:15). John the Baptist preached the baptism of repentance (Matt. 3:11; Mk. 1:4). Today, God defines true religion as: (1) helping those in need (i.e., widows and orphans); and (2) remaining unstained by the world (Jam. 1:27). Matthew Henry once said “every true Christian is a spiritual Nazarite, separated by a vow unto the Lord.” Are you willing to dedicate yourself to Jesus? Are you willing to devote yourself by studying the Word? Are you also willing to help the helpless and stay unstained by the things of the world?
A dedication can be for any time period. Some people were Nazarites for life. Yet, God does not want anyone to make a vow they can’t keep. He knows that we are sinful. Thus, He will accept a vow that lasts any length of time. Are you willing to make a discipleship vow for God for even a small time period as you build up to longer times?
Deny yourself. Jesus did not prohibit believers from drinking wine. One of His first miracles was to create multiple gallons of wine (Jo. 2:6-11). He also drank wine at the Last Supper. Yet, He also commanded that His disciples to deny themselves (Lk. 9:23). Christ wasn’t speaking of things that were already prohibited or required. A vow to God was meaningless if it included things that were prohibited or already required (Lev. 27:26-33). Getting drunk is already prohibited in the New Testament: “Do not get drunk with wine.” (Eph. 5:18; Prov. 20:1; Isa 5:11; 56:12; Jer. 23:9; Joel 3:3). Thus, promising not to get drunk is a vow that is already required. Yet, on a voluntary basis, are you willing to give up alcohol use for God as an act of gratitude and devotion?
Even in moderation, alcohol can lead to sin. Alcohol can cause people to lose their inhibitions. With alcohol, your self-control can become less rigid, and you may be more inclined to say or do things that you should not do: “For they will drink and forget what is decreed.” (Prov. 31:5). “He who loves wine and oil will not become rich.” (Prov. 21:17). Wine or drunkenness is also symbolic of God’s wrath (Rev. 14:8, 10; 16:19; 17:2; 18:3). Even infrequent alcohol can sometimes lead to abuse. It can also be a form of idolatry if you use it to escape from your struggles. Why not close the door on any such temptations and give it up on a voluntary basis as an act of devotion for God?
Even in moderation, alcohol can cause others to stumble. Even when something is permitted, Paul advises believers not to engage in it if it might another to stumble in their walk: “It is good not to eat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles.” (Rom. 14:21). Elders and deacons could not serve if they were “addicted to wine or strong drink.” (1 Tim 3:3, 8; Tit. 1:7). If they did so, they could cause others to stumble. Likewise, older women must not be addicted to wine because they may be a role model to others. “Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good,” (Tit. 2:3). What if your serving alcohol causes a weak believer to stumble? What if it causes another to get into a car accident? Why not set an example and give it up on a voluntary basis?
Even in moderation alcohol can create the appearance of evil. It was the devil who tempted Nazarites, like Sampson, to drink wine. “But you made the Nazirites drink wine, And you commanded the prophets saying, ‘You shall not prophesy!’” (Amos 2:12). Wine can tempt others to sin. Even when not prohibited, you are to “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1 Thess. 5:22). Even moderate use can create the appearance of evil. If you are drinking at a bar, what assumptions will others make? If a pastor is seen drinking, what assumptions will others make?
Store up your treasures in heaven. Some believe that wine after Jesus’ death was to be used primarily for medicinal purposes. Paul, for example, allowed it “for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.” (1 Tim. 5:23). When Jesus was on Earth, the disciples did not need to fast. They were to deny themselves after He left. “Then the disciples of John came to Him, asking, ‘Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?’ And Jesus said to them, ‘The attendants of the bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.” (Matt. 9:14-15). For some, it is the same with alcohol. For some, they are storing up this treasure in heaven. “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;” (Matt. 6:20). One day, we will drink the fruit of the vine with Jesus. ‘“But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” (Matt. 26:29). In other words, Jesus has denied Himself for you until He can be reunited with you in heaven. On a voluntary basis, will you also forgo alcohol (or something else) as a sign of devotion until you are reunited together in heaven?
Avoid vanity. The Nazarite could not cut his hair during the time of separation (Nu. 6:5). The priests had a similar rule, which prohibited them from shaving their heads while mourning (Lev. 21:5). In the Bible, long hair on a man indicates shame: “Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him.” (1 Cor. 11:14). For a woman, long hair is a covering (1 Cor. 11:15). Someone who willingly takes upon himself that which causes shame has conquered his pride. The disciple must be willing to take upon himself that which causes the world to scorn and laugh at him. Today, a believer is to be dressed moderately and to also be emptied of vanity. “Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments,” (1 Tim. 2:9). The things that bring vanity are fleeting: “For, ‘all flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls off.”’ (1 Pet. 1:24). Are you willing to purge from your life the things that bring out your vanity?
Suffer for Christ. Peter teaches believers who suffer for the cause of Christ to rejoice, inasmuch as they are partakers of His sufferings (1 Pet. 4:13). True discipleship requires us to be willing to suffer shame for His name’s sake. Are you willing to be a disciple, even if you suffer public rejection for it? Do you think that Jesus would consider someone who merely shows up at Christmas and Easter services to be a disciple? Are those persons suffering for Him?
Be subject to God. Long hair also symbolized submission to God. Nazarites gave over control to God of the most intimate things in his or her life, including their hair. A Nazarite realized that his or her strength came from submission to God. It was only when Sampson lost his hair that he lost his strength (Jdgs. 16:11-20). He also lost that strength only after he broke his vows with alcohol and lusting after the flesh. God gives you strength today when you are meek, not proud (Ps. 10:17; Prov. 15:25; Isa. 2:11-12). Are you submitting to Him so that He can strengthen you?
Don’t let your cross become an ornament. Today, having long hair is sadly no longer a mark of shame for a man. Rock stars have made it cool. Thus, having long hair today would be almost meaningless. For some women, long hair today is a source of vanity, not a covering. God had people circumcise first their foreskins and then their hearts as their symbol of identity with Him (Dt. 10:16; 30:6). God did not pick a symbol for His people to set themselves apart that was visible for everyone to see. Symbols like the turban, the veil, the burka, and even a neck cross can cause pride. Thus, don’t adopt a religious symbol because you want everyone else to see that you are a believer by your outward appearances. When you circumcise your heart, it is only for God to see (Jer. 24:7; 31:33; Col. 2:11). Let others know your light by your conduct. Are you showing the light of Christ when you face tragedy or turmoil?
Be holy by being pure. The Nazarites, like the priests, were told to be holy (Nu. 6:8; Lev. 11:44). Touching a dead body symbolized the corruption caused by death. God’s “consecrated ones” – his priests and Nazarites, were said to be purer than snow and whiter than milk (Lam. 4:7). Christians are also commanded to be holy (1 Pet. 2:9). They also commanded to be unstained by the sins of the world (Jam. 1:27). Are you keeping yourself holy and unstained by the sins of the world?
Be holy to be a light to others. The Jews were meant to be a light to the rest of the world (Is. 42:6; 49:6). This is true for Christians as well (Matt. 5:14; 1 Pet. 2:4-5). Your light should not be concealed. Instead, it should be visible for all to attract them to Christ (Matt 5:15). You may be the only Bible some will ever read. Is your life an advertisement for Christ?
Be careful what you look at as well. The listed rule against touching dead people was not the only way one person could be defiled. There are many ways you can defile yourself. If you fill your eyes with inappropriate things, your entire body will be filled with darkness (Matt. 6:22-23). Are you filing your eyes with darkness?
Don’t defile yourself with spiritually unclean things. The entire world is dead to the trespasses of sin. As symbolic of this, God’s people were repeatedly told not to touch dead animals (Lev. 11:24-25, 27, 31, 35, 39-40). Anyone who touched a human corpse was also temporarily unclean (Nu. 19:11-14). A priest could only allow himself to be ceremonially unclean by touching a dead body if the dead person was part of his immediate family (Lev. 21:1-2). By contrast, a Nazarite could not even become unclean for his father, his mother, or his brother or sister (Nu. 6:7). The Nazarite would be defiled if he or she did so (Lev. 21:4). Death came from Adam and Eve’s original sin. It was not part of God’s plan (Gen. 3:19; Rom. 5:14-19). The Holy Spirit dwells within us, and our bodies are God’s temple (1 Cor. 3:16). According to Jesus, the dead must bury the dead (Matt. 8:22). If death is from sin, death cannot be in His presence. Today, anything that is evil is spiritually unclean. Are you avoiding the spiritually unclean things around you?
Jesus, our High Priest, has broken the curse of death. The high priest, like the Nazarites, could not be near a dead family member (Lev. 21:11-12). Jesus is our High Priest (Heb. 8:1). He came to fulfill the Law, not destroy it (Matt .5:18). Our God is a living God (Rev. 7:2). Jesus touched the dead daughter of Jairus and brought her back to life (Mk. 5:22-23, 38-42). He also went into the tomb of Lazarus (Mary’s brother) and brought him back from the dead (Jo. 11:32-45). How could Jesus touch these dead bodies as our high priest without breaking the Law? He did so by taking the curse of death upon Himself (Rom. 5:17). Because a dead person (who is cursed) cannot be in God’s presence, to live after death every person must accept Jesus as Lord and Savior (Jo. 3:2-6, 14-17).
Give hope to those who mourn. These instructions apply to believers because they are God’s holy priesthood (1 Peter 2:5, 9). When others die or become ill or sad, God expects you comfort them. “Therefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thess. 4:18). “Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal. 6:2). Are you comforting the broken hearted?
Avoid the dead (sinful) things that are not resurrected by Christ. Jesus lifted the curse of death for those who believe. Yet, He did not lift the curse for those who do not believe and for that which is evil. Are you staying away from the evil things of the world?
Put your relationship with God before all else. By agreeing not to touch the dead body of a family member, the Nararite took on a burden that not even a priest had to bear (Lev. 21:1-2; Nu. 6:7). Again, believers are all part of His holy priesthood (1 Pet. 2:5, 9). To be a disciple -- a modern day Nazarite -- you cannot put your family before God (Lk. 14:26). Is there anything that you have placed in front of your relationship with Him?
Keep your vows to God. Jesus commanded that your “yes” should be a “yes” and a “no” should be a “no” (Matt 5:37; Jam. 5:12). If a Nazarite broke his or her vow – even if unintentionally – the person needed to pay for this with a sacrifice (Nu. 6:9-11). Jesus was your sacrifice for your sins. Now that you no longer need to pay for breaking a vow, have you become casual about breaking your vows? What does the high rate of divorce in the Church tell us about how seriously we view our vows?
Jesus’ desire that you carefully consider your vows before you make them. A vow is in fact a beautiful thing to God. It is a voluntary act of devotion or worship. Jesus, however, asked that we count the cost before making a vow to Him (Lk. 14:28-33). For example, He wants you to take your wedding vows seriously. Divorce is not something that He takes lightly. Likewise, if you are going to ask someone to make a vow for Jesus to be their Lord and Savior, God to would not be pleased if you have not helped them to count the costs and benefits of such a decision. If you can’t explain what the Biblical costs and benefits are for following Jesus, should you be expecting God to send people your way?
Samson’s casual defilement of his Nazarite vow. Samson could have broken off his interest in Delilah after she showed interest in learning the source of his power. Or, he could have ignored or rebuked her inquires. Instead, he gave her a fake test that involved being tied up with animal intestines. “6 So Delilah said to Samson, ‘Please tell me where your great strength is and how you may be bound to afflict you.’ 7 Samson said to her, ‘If they bind me with seven fresh cords that have not been dried, then I will become weak and be like any other man.’ 8 Then the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven fresh cords that had not been dried, and she bound him with them. 9 Now she had men lying in wait in an inner room. And she said to him, ‘The Philistines are upon you, Samson!’ But he snapped the cords as a string of tow snaps when it touches fire. So his strength was not discovered.” (Jdgs. 16:6-9). His test, however, mocked God by inviting the Philistines to cause him to violate his Nazarite vows. As a Nazarite and as a Jew, Samson was prohibited from going near a “dead body,” which included an animal carcass (Nu. 6:6; 19:11; Lev. 11:8). Merely touching the corpse would normally require a sin offering (Lev. 5:2). He violated this vow when he ate the honey that had miraculously appeared inside a lion that he had killed (Jdgs. 14:5-9). He again violated the vow when he grabbed a dead donkey’s jawbone (Jdgs. 15:14-17). He again violated this vow by inviting the Philistines to tie him up with the intestines of an animal carcass (Jdgs. 16:7). He also violated his vow not to drink alcohol by participating in a Philistine bachelor party for seven days (Jdgs. 14:10). One by one, Samson compromised each thing that made him distinct in God’s eyes. When he finally lost all the symbols that made him unique (the last one being his hair), he lost his power. He would eventually become salt that had lost its saltiness. “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.” (Matt. 5:13). Christ has made you clean through His suffering on the cross. Like Delilah, Satan is constantly seeking to entice you to give up the things that make you clean and distinctive through Christ. Are you dirtying yourself with the sinful things of the world?
The lamb / ram offering. (Christ’s death). After the time of the vow was complete, the person offered a lamb as a sin offering and the ram as a fellowship offering (Nu. 6:13-14). This suggested that the Nazarites would need to continue to atone for sins even after their vow ended. There can be no forgiveness of sin without the shedding of blood (Lev. 17:11; Heb. 9:22). The sacrificial offering had to be a male bull “without defect” (Lev. 1:3; Ex. 12:5). Jesus Christ was the blood offering who had no defects (1 Pet. 1:18-19). Like the Nazarities, are you continuing to look for His forgiveness when you sin?
Unleavened Bread. (A life without sin). After the completed vow, the Nazarite offered unleavened bread (Nu. 6:15; Lev. 2:4, 11; Ex. 29:1-3). The Jews were first told not to use leaven to bake their bread (which takes time to cook) because they needed to immediately flee from the land of bondage to the Promised Land (Ex. 12:8, 15). Today, God calls you to be a living sacrifice for Him (Ro. 12:1). Like the Jews, He does not want you to wait to get our personal affairs in order before you go and serve Him (Matt. 8:21-23). Are you delaying His calling in your life? Are you leading a life without sin?
If you leave sin alone, it will grow. Leaven is the ingredient that causes bread to rise. When sin is not addressed in your life, it will rise like the leaven used to make bread rise. Is there any sin in your life that you are allowing to fester and grow?
Oil (the Holy Spirit). After the completed vow, the Nazarite offered oil (Nu. 6:15). Oil symbolizes in the Holy Spirit (1 Sam. 16:13). If you serve God without His Holy Spirit, it is you flesh that is leading you. If your service is led by the flesh, it is not pleasing to God. Are you seeking out God’s direction before you serve Him?
The drink offering. (Christ’s blood). The Nazarite also made a drink offering (Nu. 6:17; 28:31; Lev. 23:13). Jesus is the vine of life that you drink (Jo. 6:53). Your life should be in communion with Him. Your life should also be filled with joy in our life for others to see (Phil. 2:17). Is your joy a light for others? (Matt. 5:14).
The hair left at the tent of meeting (Labor for God). After the completed vow, the Nazarite left his hair at the tent of meeting (Nu. 6:18). This meant that the hair grown in service to the Lord was given back to God. Are your labors for God or yourself?
The ram’s shoulder (God is your strength). After the completed vow, the Nazarite ate the shoulder of the fellowship offering (Nu. 6:18). The shoulder was a symbol of strength. Is God the source of your strength? Do you give your strength back to Him?
The fellowship offering. After the completed vow, the Nazarite waived the offering before the Lord before he or she ate it in fellowship (Nu. 6:18; Lev. 3:11, 16). This symbolizes what every believer should seek on a daily basis. Christ’s death ripped the temple “veil” and gave us direct access to God through Christ (Matt. 27:51; Mk. 15:38). Yet, our “access” to God does not automatically mean that we have “fellowship” with Him (Rev. 3:20). An example of a saved believer who is not in fellowship with God is a believer trapped in addiction, rebellion, stress, or a lack of faith. Thus, atonement is merely the first step to finding fellowship with God. Christ also offered to believers the joy of spiritual intimacy with Him, symbolized by dining together with Him: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” (Rev. 3:20). Christ offered this so that we could find both fellowship and peace through Him (Jo. 16:33). One of the reasons to take Communion on a “frequent” basis is to remind believers of the need to constantly seek out fellowship with Him (Lk. 22:14-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-34). Your future wedding in heaven to Christ will also be celebrated through a great feast (Rev. 19:9). Sadly, many believers have been led to believe that being saved is the end-all-be-all of being a Christian. But it is only the first step in a person’s walk with Christ. If you want true peace and fellowship with God, you must accept Jesus’ knock on the door of your heart. “For He Himself is our peace . . .” (Eph. 2:14). Are you seeking out Christ’s fellowship to find His peace in your life?
Moses’ blessings upon the obedient work of the builders. After the Jews completed the Tabernacle, Moses blessed the builders for their obedience (Ex. 39:32-43). Throughout the Bible, the last recorded words of many the great men of faith were words of blessings. Moses’ final words in Deuteronomy were words of blessing for the 12 tribes (Dt. 33). Likewise, in Noah’s final recorded words, he blessed and gave prophetic words for his children (Gen. 9:24-27). As another example, in what Isaac thought were his final words, he sought to bless his eldest son Esau, but was tricked into giving that blessing to Jacob (Gen. 27:34-41). At the end of his life, Jacob blessed and gave prophetic words to each of his sons (Gen. 48-49). Jesus also promised a blessing with His final words: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20). God also wants you to follow the example of these great men of faith by blessing others. Are you blessing others in prayers?
In Jesus’ name, you have the power to bless. Aaron also blessed with God’s authority as a priest (Nu. 6:23, 27). Among other things, he blessed others with peace (Nu. 6:26). Paul also gave prayers of blessings (called a benediction) to others. In many traditional church services, the priest says a blessing to the congregation, and the congregation blesses the priest. Any Christian is part of God’s holy priesthood, not just those in the pulpit (1 Pet. 2:5, 9; Rev. 1:6). When you pray in Jesus’ name, you also have the power to bless others: “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” (Jo. 14:13-14). “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.” (Jo. 15:16). “In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you.” (Jo. 16:23). The name is so powerful that the archangel Michael was able to drive Satan away merely by rebuking him in Jesus’ name (Jude 1:9). Are you blessing others with the power that Christ has given you? Or, do your words tear people down?
If you bless with doubt, your blessings are worthless. Much like prayer, if you bless others with doubt about the power Christ has given you, your blessings are worthless: “For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (Jam. 1:6-8). Do you have faith that Christ will bless others when you bless them in faith?