The Nazarite Vow, Gifts and Lighting of the Lamps: Numbers 6–8

 

You can listen to an audio of this week’s full teaching here.

The Bible’s repeated insistence and emphasis on the idea of separation, seen already in the instruction about the service of the Levites in the tabernacle (3:5ff.) and in the legislation about the lepers in the camp (5:1ff.), is underlined even more impressively and forcibly in the laws concerning the Nazirite vows. The word derives from nāzı̂r meaning “to separate.” It was a vow that could be taken for a specific period (e.g., for thirty days), perhaps as an act of consecration, perhaps following repentance, or, as has been said “to reassure himself that underlying the routine of daily life he was devoted to God.” But that there were also lifelong Nazirites is equally clear in Scripture, as is evident for example in the case of Samson (Judg. 13–16).

From here Scripture take us to the offering of gifts by the princes of Israel. Chronologically this portion of Scripture is misplaced. The giving of these gifts more probably occurred. This section probably should have followed Levitucus 8:10-11. But we find it hear according to Keil and Delitzsch, “at the head of the events which immediately preceded the departure of the people from Sinai, because these gifts consisted in part of materials that were indispensably necessary for the transport of the Tabernacle during the march through the desert.”

Wherever it’s placed the act of giving these gifts is a beautiful record to God of those who gave gifts to Him. The chapter offers a detailed account of what the leaders of Israel gave day by day over a twelve-day period. Clearly, this was humble giving. By requiring the same gift from every tribe, God made sure that no tribe or tribal leader glorified himself through his giving.

Chapter 8 of Numbers brings us to the lighting of the lamps and a special cleansing service for the Levites—those who would serve in the Tabernacle. It’s interesting to note Chapter 7 dealt with the presentation of gifts, chapter 8 with the dedication of Levites; chapter 7 with offering, chapter 8 with service. And I believe this insertion of the lamp stand between the presentation of gifts and the dedication of Levites is as though the Lord is saying, “It all needs to be exposed to the light.”

Here are some observations about these three chapters:

1. What we do in love for Him is recorded precisely and individually. In chapter 7 God records each gift, each tribe individually, even though each gift was the same. God is not unjust to forget our work and labor of love which we show toward His name (Heb. 6:10). He takes pleasure in His people (Psalm 149:4).

2. The princes were not coming to God in contrition, but in worship. Perhaps we should recognize that there is a grieving about sin, and a preoccupation about it, that is frankly dishonoring to Jesus, and calls in question the perfection of His sacrifice for us. Let’s not forget that we can approach Him in worship at any time as well.

3. There is always a special love and care that God expends on those faithful to Him in His service. He was intent upon seeing that they were not overburdened and set limits to their service. It was as if He said, “I do not expect you to go on beyond your strength.” “Those who honor Me, He says, I will honor” (1 Sam. 2:30)—and care for, too.

4. Know the verbs. Tucked away in chapter 6 is the Aaronic blessing. It is one of the most beautiful prayers found in Scripture. Take time to look at the verbs (highlighted below) and know how much God cares for you and wants to bless you in His way and in His time:

The Lord bless you and watch, guard, and keep you;
The Lord make His face to shine upon and enlighten you and be gracious (kind, merciful, and giving favor) to you;
The Lord lift up His [approving] countenance upon you and give you peace (tranquility of heart and life continually).

Numbers 6:24–26 Amplified Bible Version

 

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Trust is the winsome wedding of faith and hope.

Brennan Manning

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