Book of Numbers Chapter Six Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
The Word of the Lord to the nation Israel was expressed through Moses in Exodus 19:6—this was to be a kingdom, a "nation of priests" serving one another and the world. And yet we find them in these chapters divided into clergy and laity, some born to be priests, but most were not. That division persisted throughout the historical years of Israel, it is within the Jewish religion today, and it flowed through the time of Jesus into the church. Israel is both a historical fact, a people chosen by God, wrought out of faithful Abraham and Sarah, and a parable expressed through them that men and women of faith in the Lord are God's choice to inherit His kingdom. We see this in many ways throughout Scripture, such as here in this chapter, where we find provision for one not a Levite or a priest, and yet chosen to dedicate a portion of their lives to the Lord, as what is called a "Nazarite," someone set aside to serve God.
And this provision was not by custom, it came from the Lord, as in Verses 1-4: "Again the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 'Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, 'When a man or woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to dedicate himself to the Lord, 3 he shall abstain from wine and strong drink; he shall drink no vinegar, whether made from wine or strong drink, nor shall he drink any grape juice nor eat fresh or dried grapes. 4 All the days of his separation he shall not eat anything that is produced by the grape vine, from the seeds even to the skin.'" Notice that the Nazarite could be "a man or a woman." In Genesis 1:27, the "image of God" within mankind is revealed to be both "male and female." In Galatians 3:26-29, we find that the "Sons (inheritors) of God" are not only men, for in fact "there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." And similar to refraining from the wine, grape juice, raisins, vinegar, and the grape skins used to make tasty desserts, if God has drawn you to be set aside for His purposes—not unlike the Nazarite of these verses—you may be called to some form of abstinence also. The priests and Levites could eat all the grapes they wanted, but not the Nazarite. What has God called YOU to do in your life? And what has He called you to NOT do?
In Verses 5-8, we find that the Nazarite was also barred from shaving, getting a haircut and touching someone who was dead: "All the days of his vow of separation no razor shall pass over his head. He shall be holy until the days are fulfilled for which he separated himself to the Lord; he shall let the locks of hair on his head grow long. 6 All the days of his separation to the Lord he shall not go near to a dead person. 7 He shall not make himself unclean for his father or for his mother, for his brother or for his sister, when they die, because his separation to God is on his head. 8 All the days of his separation he is holy to the Lord." This was a marked man or woman, notable to others for their DIFFERENCE, both in appearance and behavior. Three classic examples in Scripture of Nazarites are Samson, Samuel, and John the Baptist (Judges 13:5,14, 1 Samuel 1:11, and Luke 1:15). It's interesting that all three were life-long Nazarites, whereas Verse 8 indicates that Nazarites could have a relatively short-term separation, but all were "holy to the Lord" in faithfully responding to Him. It has been pointed out through the centuries that the uncut hair of the Nazarite is equivalent to the "holy crown" of the priest in Exodus 29:6 & context. Others will recognize you as different, when you place your faith in the Lord. In 2 Corinthians 2:15, we find that the ones who trust in Him are like a "fragrance of Christ," perceived by others. And we are ALIVE, no longer among the living dead of this world.
Verses 9-12: "But if a man dies very suddenly beside him and he defiles his dedicated head of hair, then he shall shave his head on the day when he becomes clean; he shall shave it on the seventh day." 10 Then on the eighth day he shall bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons to the priest, to the doorway of the tent of meeting. 11 The priest shall offer one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering, and make atonement for him concerning his sin because of the dead person. And that same day he shall consecrate his head, 12 and shall dedicate to the Lord his days as a Nazirite, and shall bring a male lamb a year old for a guilt offering; but the former days will be void because his separation was defiled." The Lord gave very clear instructions to the Nazarite. He or she was to abstain from the fruit of the vine, not cut their hair, never touch a dead person, and most set apart as Nazarites had good intentions to perform well. You many have good intentions also, yet life happens in unexpected ways. The Nazarite might be walking through the marketplace when someone suddenly died and fell against them. The remedy for the Nazarite was here in these verses: they would go to the priest and an offering, a sacrifice would be made. The innocent took the place of the guilty. An offering, a living sacrifice has been made for you also. Christ "has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself... offered once to bear the sins of many" (Hebrews 9:26-28).
It was expected that most Nazarite vows would pertain to a specific time period. Verses 13-17 offer a methodology for a return to "normal" life: "Now this is the law of the Nazirite when the days of his separation are fulfilled, he shall bring the offering to the doorway of the tent of meeting. 14 He shall present his offering to the Lord: one male lamb a year old without defect for a burnt offering and one ewe-lamb a year old without defect for a sin offering and one ram without defect for a peace offering, 15 and a basket of unleavened cakes of fine flour mixed with oil and unleavened wafers spread with oil, along with their grain offering and their drink offering. 16 Then the priest shall present them before the Lord and shall offer his sin offering and his burnt offering. 17 He shall also offer the ram for a sacrifice of peace offerings to the Lord, together with the basket of unleavened cakes; the priest shall likewise offer its grain offering and its drink offering." You are separated for God's service through faith in the Lord, whether you are in what is called "ministry" or not. You have "redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace" (Ephesians 1:7). Like Samson, Samuel and John the Baptist, you are set apart for God's purposes, within this world and in the eternity that follows
Verses 18-21: "The Nazirite shall then shave his dedicated head of hair at the doorway of the tent of meeting, and take the dedicated hair of his head and put it on the fire which is under the sacrifice of peace offerings. 19 The priest shall take the ram’s shoulder when it has been boiled, and one unleavened cake out of the basket and one unleavened wafer, and shall put them on the hands of the Nazirite after he has shaved his dedicated hair. 20 Then the priest shall wave them for a wave offering before the Lord. It is holy for the priest, together with the breast offered by waving and the thigh offered by lifting up; and afterward the Nazirite may drink wine. 21 This is the law of the Nazirite who vows his offering to the Lord according to his separation, in addition to what else he can afford; according to his vow which he takes, so he shall do according to the law of his separation." Whether the Lord has called you to a short-term mission trip, to a lifetime of ministry, to serve on the church board for a time, or whatever it is, He receives you with great seriousness. You are His. "For by grace (God's unmerited favor) you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8). The Nazarite was part of Israel and therefore was a citizen of God's chosen nation, but the Nazarite could especially dedicate a portion of his or her life to the Lord. Through faith in the Messiah, the Christ, you are a part of His holy kingdom—now and forever, and the following verses are both a promise to you and a gift for you to share with others:
Verses 22-27: "Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 23 Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, ‘Thus you shall bless the sons of Israel. You shall say
to them: 24 The Lord bless you, and keep you; 25 The Lord make His face shine on you,
and be gracious to you; 26 The Lord lift up His countenance on you,
and give you peace.’ 27 So they shall invoke My name on the sons of Israel, and I then will bless them.'" You are blessed, the Lord is keeping you safe, His face shines upon your life, He is gracious to you, continually looking to your every need, and in Christ, PEACE with God has been abundantly given—to you. You are His Nazarite, His separated one, through faith in the Lord.
Lord, I have sinned, but Your Sacrifice has saved me. I trust in You. I am Yours. I am blessed and receive Your peace. Thank You. You gave Yourself for me, and I dedicate my life to You, now and forever. In Jesus Name. Amen.