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Holy to the Lord!

When I was less than ten years old, my mother read Numbers 6 and immediately knelt down to pray, dedicating my brother and me to God. She declared that we would live our lives as "Nazirites" before the Lord. Looking back, it's clear my mother didn't have a deep understanding of the Bible, but her sincere and wholehearted dedication was accepted by God. This doesn't mean my brother and I lived exactly according to the Nazarite vow outlined in Numbers 6. For instance, the rule about not cutting hair alone would be quite unimaginable.

It’s clear that, like most Old Testament laws, the Nazarite vow needs to be understood within the context of the New Testament, which centers on the salvation brought by Jesus Christ. Here are three points to consider:

1. The Nazarite Vow Expresses a Willing and Complete Dedication to God

In the Old Testament, those set apart to serve God wholly were the Levites and the priestly family, a role determined by lineage. Jews outside the Levite tribe and priestly family could not hold these sacred offices. However, if a non-Levite or non-priestly Jew wanted to dedicate themselves entirely to God, the Nazarite vow provided a way. This vow was open to any Jew who willingly and wholeheartedly devoted themselves to God. John MacArthur points out the similarities between the Nazarite vow and the high priest’s regulations:
1) Nazarites abstain from wine, similar to priests not drinking wine while serving in the Tabernacle (Leviticus 10:8-9);
2) Nazarites cannot touch dead bodies, including those of family members, paralleling the high priest’s restriction from contact with corpses, even those of parents;
3) The sacredness of the Nazarite’s hair corresponds to the holiness of the high priest’s crown (Exodus 29:6, Leviticus 8:9).
Therefore, the Nazarite vow signifies a willing and complete dedication to God and a lifestyle wholly devoted to Him.

2. Jesus Christ is the Perfect Nazarite
Psalm 40 contains a precious passage that the author of Book of Hebrews uses to refer to Jesus Christ:

6 In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required.

7 Then I said, “Behold, I have come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me:

8 I delight to do your will, O my God;your law is within my heart.” (Psalm 40:6-8, cf. Hebrews 10:5-7).

According to Old Testament law, servants who willingly chose to serve their master forever had their ears pierced, symbolizing eternal and wholehearted dedication. The author of Hebrews understood this Psalm as referring to the Messiah—Jesus Christ. Although He is the son of God, He came into this world for our sake, offering Himself as a perfect, holy sacrifice to God. Consequently, those who truly believe in and accept Jesus Christ, confessing their sins, are made holy before God by putting on the righteousness of Christ, which far exceeds the holiness required by the Nazarite vow. Through faith in Christ's perfect holiness, we no longer face God's wrath and judgment but are fully accepted by Him, becoming His beloved children and serving Him alongside our brothers and sisters.

3. The Nazarite Vow as a Way of Life

Finally, it is important to note the differences between the Nazarite vow and the high priest’s regulations. The Nazarite vow did not specify any particular duties: Nazarites had no temple service or sacrificial responsibilities. This means that, besides being wholly set apart for God, they continued their regular lives, just avoiding impurity. In other words, the Nazarite vow fundamentally represents a lifestyle of complete sanctification, expressed not through visible service but through everyday life. This is what Jesus declared in His prayer for Christians before the Father:

They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.(John 17:16-19).

This is also the call and encouragement from Paul in Romans 12:1-2:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

All Christians who receive the holiness of Jesus Christ are called to be "Nazarites," wholly dedicated to God, serving Him through our lifestyles. Admittedly, our most holy lives are still imperfect and flawed before God, but through the salvation of our Lord Jesus Christ, God accepts our dedication and service. Through the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, God strengthens our dedication and service, fills us with love and longing for Him, and glorifies His name until we complete our journey and stand before Him!

May glory be to Him forever and ever!

Rev. Kristian. Gao
05/21/2024
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