Numbers
Introduction 1-2 The Vow of a Nazirite 3-4 Abstain from Eating and Drinking from the Vine 5 Let the Locks of Hair Grow Long 6-7 Not Go near to a Dead Person 8-12 Void Days 13-15 Offerings After the Days of Separation 16-17 The Priest Brings the Offering 18 The Hair Is Sacrificed 19-21 The Offering Put on the Hands of the Nazirite
Introduction

God has separated a special tribe for Himself, that of Levi. But God does not act at will. In this chapter, He gives directions that allow every Israelite who wants to do so to commit himself to Him.

After the unfaithfulness of the people, represented in the unfaithful wife of the previous chapter, here comes the other side. Here is someone who personally wants to devote himself completely and voluntarily to the LORD. When the condition of God’s people has become like that of the unfaithful wife, in whom we may see a picture of the deviation of the whole people, God will speak about the individual in His people. This we also see in Revelation 2-3. After the deviation of each church, the word is addressed to the individual: “He who overcomes”.

What is presented in the Nazirite is a picture of what the whole people should have been before God, but what they unfortunately were not. Israel has not set itself apart for God. It has been fulfilled by a God-fearing remnant in the midst of the people. In Acts 2 we see something of that. In the midst of the people that the Lord Jesus rejected, a company is formed by the Holy Spirit, which speaks “of the mighty deeds of God” (Acts 2:1111Cretans and Arabs—we hear them in our [own] tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.”).


The Vow of a Nazirite

1Again 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,

A Nazirite is someone separated. Separation is not negative, is not a goal in itself, but is a separation to the LORD. The Lord Jesus was the true Nazirite on earth, not literally, but in its true meaning. He did drink wine, we do not read that He had long hair, and He touched the dead. This shows that dedication is an inner matter. Its external characteristics must be visible signs. Where only are external characteristics, there is talk of hypocrisy, pharisaism.

Whoever makes the Nazirite vow (cf. 2Chr 17:1616and next to him Amasiah the son of Zichri, who volunteered for the LORD, and with him 200,000 valiant warriors;) does so for a certain time. There are also people who are Nazirite for their entire lives, such as Samson, Samuel and John the baptist. As such they are already labelled before birth (Jdg 13:5,145For behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and no razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”14She should not eat anything that comes from the vine nor drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing; let her observe all that I commanded.”; 1Sam 1:1111She made a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head.”; Lk 1:1515For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb.). They are it in the literal sense. In a way, the Rechabites are also Nazirites (Jer 35:1-191The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, saying,2“Go to the house of the Rechabites and speak to them, and bring them into the house of the LORD, into one of the chambers, and give them wine to drink.”3Then I took Jaazaniah the son of Jeremiah, son of Habazziniah, and his brothers and all his sons and the whole house of the Rechabites,4and I brought them into the house of the LORD, into the chamber of the sons of Hanan the son of Igdaliah, the man of God, which was near the chamber of the officials, which was above the chamber of Maaseiah the son of Shallum, the doorkeeper.5Then I set before the men of the house of the Rechabites pitchers full of wine and cups; and I said to them, “Drink wine!”6But they said, “We will not drink wine, for Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us, saying, ‘You shall not drink wine, you or your sons, forever.7You shall not build a house, and you shall not sow seed and you shall not plant a vineyard or own one; but in tents you shall dwell all your days, that you may live many days in the land where you sojourn.’8We have obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, in all that he commanded us, not to drink wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons or our daughters,9nor to build ourselves houses to dwell in; and we do not have vineyard or field or seed.10We have only dwelt in tents, and have obeyed and have done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us.11But when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against the land, we said, ‘Come and let us go to Jerusalem before the army of the Chaldeans and before the army of the Arameans.’ So we have dwelt in Jerusalem.”12Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying,13“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Go and say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, “Will you not receive instruction by listening to My words?” declares the LORD.14“The words of Jonadab the son of Rechab, which he commanded his sons not to drink wine, are observed. So they do not drink [wine] to this day, for they have obeyed their father’s command. But I have spoken to you again and again; yet you have not listened to Me.15Also I have sent to you all My servants the prophets, sending [them] again and again, saying: ‘Turn now every man from his evil way and amend your deeds, and do not go after other gods to worship them. Then you will dwell in the land which I have given to you and to your forefathers; but you have not inclined your ear or listened to Me.16Indeed, the sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab have observed the command of their father which he commanded them, but this people has not listened to Me.’”‘17Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Behold, I am bringing on Judah and on all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the disaster that I have pronounced against them; because I spoke to them but they did not listen, and I have called them but they did not answer.’”18Then Jeremiah said to the house of the Rechabites, “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Because you have obeyed the command of Jonadab your father, kept all his commands and done according to all that he commanded you;19therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, “Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not lack a man to stand before Me always.”‘“).

Whether there have been many who have dedicated themselves as Nazirites to the LORD is not clear. It is possible that in Numbers 30 there is a reference to the Nazirite vow (Num 30:33“Also if a woman makes a vow to the LORD, and binds herself by an obligation in her father’s house in her youth,). They have been there (Amos 2:11-1211“Then I raised up some of your sons to be prophets
And some of your young men to be Nazirites.
Is this not so, O sons of Israel?” declares the LORD.
12“But you made the Nazirites drink wine,
And you commanded the prophets saying, ‘You shall not prophesy!’
), possibly even before the law of the Nazirite is given here. [See also Lamentations 4 where for ‘the consecrated ones’ also ‘Nazirites’ can be translated (Lam 4:7-87Her consecrated ones were purer than snow,
They were whiter than milk;
They were more ruddy [in] body than corals,
Their polishing [was like] lapis lazuli.
8Their appearance is blacker than soot,
They are not recognized in the streets;
Their skin is shriveled on their bones,
It is withered, it has become like wood.
).] In any case, the case as such seems to have been known. Thus in Genesis 49 Joseph is called “the one distinguished [i.e. Nazirite] among his brothers” (Gen 49:2626“The blessings of your father
Have surpassed the blessings of my ancestors
Up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills;
May they be on the head of Joseph,
And on the crown of the head of the one distinguished among his brothers.
).

It seems that the conversation between James and Paul in Jerusalem also refers to the Nazirite vow (Acts 21:23-2623Therefore do this that we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow;24take them and purify yourself along with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads; and all will know that there is nothing to the things which they have been told about you, but that you yourself also walk orderly, keeping the Law.25But concerning the Gentiles who have believed, we wrote, having decided that they should abstain from meat sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication.”26Then Paul took the men, and the next day, purifying himself along with them, went into the temple giving notice of the completion of the days of purification, until the sacrifice was offered for each one of them.; cf. Acts 18:1818Paul, having remained many days longer, took leave of the brethren and put out to sea for Syria, and with him were Priscilla and Aquila. In Cenchrea he had his hair cut, for he was keeping a vow.). Paul’s involvement in this is not in accord with his calling and service. The Christian is “not under law, but under grace” (Rom 6:1414For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.), and should therefore not place himself or himself be placed under law. Making vows does not belong to his position.


Abstain from Eating and Drinking from the Vine

3he 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. 4All the days of his separation he shall not eat anything that is produced by the grape vine, from [the] seeds even to [the] skin.

If anyone wants to be completely dedicated, God gives His precepts, His standards. Whoever makes the Nazirite vow separates
1. from the vine – that speaks of joy,
2. from his rights as a man – which is expressed in his long hair and
3. from what has to do with death.
Here it is not just a separation from what defiles, but also from what is best in nature, from what God has given in it.

Wine is the picture of the joy of the earth. Wine rejoices in the hearts of God and men (Jdg 9:1313But the vine said to them, ‘Shall I leave my new wine, which cheers God and men, and go to wave over the trees?’; Psa 104:1515And wine which makes man’s heart glad,
So that he may make [his] face glisten with oil,
And food which sustains man’s heart.
). Thus we also read of a drink offering of wine, which speaks of the joy that God has found in the offering of His Son. Wine speaks of what God has given in nature. The Nazirite voluntarily renounces it. Nature is not condemned, that would be wrong for the Christian. Everything that God has created “is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; 5for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer” (1Tim 4:44For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude;). But there is a way that is higher, and God gives to him who wants to go that way, both the conditions and the strength for it.

The Christian is not dead to nature. It is precisely in letters in which the Christian position is most emphasized (the letter to the Ephesians and the letter to the Colossians), that the obligations of earthly relations are most extensively discussed.

The Lord Jesus is now in heaven, separated from everything on earth, even from the natural relationship He had with His disciples on earth. In view of this, He has said that He will not drink any more of the fruit of the vine. He will drink of it again when He returns to establish the kingdom where His disciples will reign with Him (Mt 26:2929But 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.”). He will not always be Nazirite. He will say: “Eat, friends; Drink and imbibe deeply, O lovers” (Song 5:1b1“I have come into my garden, my sister, [my] bride;
I have gathered my myrrh along with my balsam.
I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey;
I have drunk my wine and my milk.
Eat, friends;
Drink and imbibe deeply, O lovers.”
).


Let the Locks of Hair Grow Long

5‘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.

“If a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her” (1Cor 11:14-1514Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him,15but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering.). This is the case at this time, the time of the church. The man represents the authority of God on earth. The sign of dependence and submission does not fit in with this. When God commands the Nazirite to let the locks of his hair grow long, it gives us the picture that the place of authority is given up to take a place of complete submission. In the eyes of men this is not a place of honor, but it is in the eyes of God.

Samson’s strength lies in the hair as a Nazirite (Jdg 13:4-74Now therefore, be careful not to drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing.5For behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and no razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”6Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, “A man of God came to me and his appearance was like the appearance of the angel of God, very awesome. And I did not ask him where he [came] from, nor did he tell me his name.7But he said to me, ‘Behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and now you shall not drink wine or strong drink nor eat any unclean thing, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.’”). The place of dependency and submission is always the place of strength. When he no longer behaves dependent on God, but makes himself dependent on a woman, he loses his strength with his hair (Jdg 16:17-2117So he told her all [that was] in his heart and said to her, “A razor has never come on my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaved, then my strength will leave me and I will become weak and be like any [other] man.”18When Delilah saw that he had told her all [that was] in his heart, she sent and called the lords of the Philistines, saying, “Come up once more, for he has told me all [that is] in his heart.” Then the lords of the Philistines came up to her and brought the money in their hands.19She made him sleep on her knees, and called for a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his hair. Then she began to afflict him, and his strength left him.20She said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him.21Then the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes; and they brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze chains, and he was a grinder in the prison.).


Not Go near to a Dead Person

6‘All the days of his separation to the LORD he shall not go near to a dead person. 7He 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.

Touching death makes the Nazirite unclean. Death is the consequence and proof of sin (Gen 2:1717but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”). “The wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:2323For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.). Death is everything that is not connected with the living God.

The Lord Jesus did not separate himself from the dead as the Pharisees (Pharisees means ‘separated one’). He hath not despised the unbelievers; He hath eaten with tax collector and harlots. But never has He been defiled by them. He has remained internally perfectly separated from them.


Void Days

8All the days of his separation he is holy to the LORD. 9‘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. 10Then on the eighth day he shall bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons to the priest, to the doorway of the tent of meeting. 11The 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, 12and 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.

Even if a Nazirite accidentally comes into contact with death, he is still defiled. We would say that he can’t do anything about it, but for God, even unforeseen circumstances are no excuse. Dedication to the Lord does not allow any interference from even the closest family ties (cf. Jn 2:44And Jesus *said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.”; Mt 10:3737“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.), which does not mean that we have no responsibilities to our parents (Eph 6:1-31Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.2Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise),3so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.; cf. Jn 19:26-2726When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He *said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!”27Then He *said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own [household].). Those who are sanctified to God must always be vigilant and attentive. The standard for the Nazirites is the same as for the High Priest (Lev 21:1111nor shall he approach any dead person, nor defile himself [even] for his father or his mother;).

Defilement can just happen to us by our dealings with the disbelievers in the world. For the Nazirites – and for all who have dedicated themselves to the Lord – the consequences of unforeseen defilement are serious. The previous days of his separation will be void in such a case. His hair must be shaved off and a sacrifice must be made.

The shaving of his hair is the sign that the place of submission has been abandoned (cf. Jer 7:2929‘Cut off your hair and cast [it] away,
And take up a lamentation on the bare heights;
For the LORD has rejected and forsaken
The generation of His wrath.’
). This shaving happens on the seventh day. Seven is the number of fullness. A full period has passed, in which he has realized what he has done. He is truly humbled. Shaving the hair is the ultimate proof of this. At the same time, this is also the start of the restoration. There is talk of an eighth day. After the hair has been shaved off, it also starts to grow again (Jdg 16:2222However, the hair of his head began to grow again after it was shaved off.).

In the offering of the two birds, the Lord Jesus is depicted as the Man Who descended from heaven to earth. The first bird is prepared as a sin offering, the second as a burnt offering. The defiled Nazirite is first reminded, as it were, that the Lord Jesus had to die for his defilement. Then, in the burnt offering, he also sees Him as the perfect Man dedicated to God, who has glorified God in all things. By being so busy with the Lord Jesus, atonement takes place.

The offering must be brought “to the doorway of the tent of meeting”. The life of the Nazirite is individually dedicated to God, but his behavior influences the coming together of God with His people. Just as there is a blessing for the whole people in case of faithfulness, so this blessing is diminished in case of unfaithfulness. What believers do in their daily lives always influences the meetings of believers, whether for good or evil.

After offering both birds he may start again. There are believers who have started well, but fail later in life. This failure happens when they start working in their own strength and forget the true dependence on the Lord. They must come to confession and see what the Lord Jesus has done for them. Then they will dedicate themselves again, but now in the power of the offering, on the basis of the work of the Lord Jesus. The guilt offering must be made.

It is a humbling thought that, in the event of defilement, all the good of the preceding period will be void. There is nothing left of what is of value to God (cf. Eze 33:1313When I say to the righteous he will surely live, and he [so] trusts in his righteousness that he commits iniquity, none of his righteous deeds will be remembered; but in that same iniquity of his which he has committed he will die.).


Offerings After the Days of Separation

13‘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. 14He 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, 15and 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.

When the Nazirite has completed the time of his separation, he goes to the doorway of the tent of meeting to bring his offering there. The reason why he makes his offering there is that the whole people have to do with his dedication: the whole people benefit from it. We see this in the blessing at the end of this chapter.

Everything in the offering speaks of the Lord Jesus. With this he expresses the awareness that he has not been and remained committed in his own power. The Lord Jesus, the perfect Nazirite, gave him the strength to do so.

The offering he brings now is many times greater than in the previous part. There it is brought as a necessary offering because of its defilement. Here he brings an offering after his time as a Nazirite has ended. In his dedication he has seen more and more of the Lord Jesus. These offerings are the result of this. He brings
1. a burnt offering – that is the first thing here; with the birds the sin offering is the first thing;
2. a sin offering – he knows that he is a sinner in himself and
3. a peace offering – the offering that expresses the fellowship of God’s people with God, with Christ and with one another.

He also brings several grain offerings and the accompanying drink offerings. They also speak of the Lord Jesus. The grain offering represents His life on earth, in which He is perfectly guided by the Spirit (of which the oil is a picture) and all the works of the Spirit have become visible in Him. The drink offering speaks of the joy that He has meant to God in His life on earth. God has found in Him a perfect pleasure.


The Priest Brings the Offering

16Then the priest shall present [them] before the LORD and shall offer his sin offering and his burnt offering. 17He 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.

The Nazirite offers this extensive offering. The priest prepares everything before the LORD. In the church, the Nazirite and the priests are the same person. Dedicated believers, Nazirites, see much of the Lord Jesus and these same believers will offer what they see of the Lord Jesus as priests to God. In bringing the offerings the sin offering takes first place. If we are allowed to continue with anything of our service, the realization that this may happen because of the work of the Lord Jesus as the sin offering will still take first place.

Of our dedication we will say that it is all accomplished by His grace. His offering has given us the strength. The offering we will bring speaks of it. When we come to Him, after our service on earth, we will see Him as the Lamb. We will honor Him because He has enabled us to do everything that has been to the glory of God. We will honor Him as the perfect burnt offering and grain offering and peace offering. We will also honor Him for what He was as the sin offering, he who bore our sins.


The Hair Is Sacrificed

18The 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.

After the priest has prepared everything to offer what the Nazirite has brought as an offering, the Nazirite shaves his hair off and puts it on the fire, under the sacrifice of peace offering. Because of this, together with the smell of the sacrifice of the peace offering, the smell of his hair rises to God. We see in this a beautiful picture that God is reminded forever of the dedication of every believer and that in direct connection with what His Son is as peace offering. Through the peace offering, fellowship has become possible between God and His people and between the members of God’s people. A special aspect in that fellowship is the role that dedicated believers have in it.

The hair is placed on the fire under the sacrifice of peace sacrifice. Nowhere do we read that anything of a human being is connected with a sacrifice, except with this hair of the Nazirite. That proves the enormous value God attaches to what is done in dedication to Him. It is as it says in a song: “Everything done out of love for Jesus keeps its value and will continue to exist.


The Offering Put on the Hands of the Nazirite

19The 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]. 20Then 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.”

After shaving his hair, parts of the offering are put on the hands of the Nazirite. This shows that it was only through the power of the Lord Jesus – depicted in the shoulder of the ram – and the perfect example of His dedication that the Nazirite was able to bring the time of his separation to a successful conclusion.

There is also a part for the priest: the breast of the wave offering and the thigh of the heave offering. The consciousness of love, of which the breast speaks, and the power, of which the thigh speaks, of the Lord Jesus in accomplishing a time of dedication is spiritual food for the priest. It also gives him the love and strength to perform his priestly service.

After making the sacrifices the Nazirite may drink wine again. When our service on earth is over, true joy will be enjoyed by us. The Lord Jesus says to His faithful servants: “Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master” (Mt 25:21,2321His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’23His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’).


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