Sunday, March 11, 2018

when Nazirites are normal, you’re not in Kansas anymore

The Word for today:
Numbers 5:21- 6:21
mark this: (from Numbers 6:2-7)
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.
All the days of his vow of separation, no razor shall touch his head.
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.
We have a certain fascination for the Nazirite.
For the duration of his vow, he couldn’t drink any wine or even eat a grape. He couldn’t cut his hair. He could have no contact, or even proximity, to the dead.
Though most Nazirite vows were temporary and were taken by adults, both Samuel and Samson were dedicated at birth to be lifelong Nazirites. (1 Samuel 1:11; Judges 13:3-5)
(Samson’s life would be defined more by his vow-breaking than his vow-keeping. His hair was, famously, cut. He reached inside the corpse of a lion for some honey. The Bible also infers that he attended many a party, and not as the designated driver. Samson’s Mom may have dedicated him as a baby, but it seems the grown-up Samson wasn’t as dedicated as Mom.)
John the Baptist was the most famous Nazirite of all. His wild hair and clothes and diet have come to define the genre.
The popular perception of the Nazirite, therefore, was that he was strange, weird, and unusual--which he was, when seen against the background from which he came.
But when seen from God’s point of view, the Nazirite was normal. Here’s why:
When the Nazirite vowed to dedicate himself to the LORD, he was a picture of what man was meant to be, all along. That Israel saw him as unusual was an indictment of how far man had fallen from God’s original intentions.
In the same way, when we look at the life of Jesus, we are not to think of it as unusual. He lived the way we were always meant to live! He bore, and restores in us, the image that we were given in the first place.
It is especially significant that Jesus, the ultimate Nazirite, never took the three-fold vows. He made water into wine, he touched the dead to raise them. And God only knows how long his hair was.
The point is that he did not need to effect the outward appearance of the life which he lived through and through, all the way from the inside out. The image and likeness of God, which the Nazirite vow reflected, was not necessary for Jesus to wear.  He didn’t need to take a vow; to promise to become, temporarily, what he eternally is!
The Nazirite was a picture of the way we’re all going to be (not look). Someday, when we see Jesus as he is, we will be like Him again (1), which will make the “non-Nazirite” seem strange.
On that day, when Samuel and John the Baptist seem normal, we’ll know we’re not in Kansas anymore.
(1) 1 John 3:2

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