The Nazirite Vow

Today, we will look at Numbers 6 which describes the Nazirite vow, a vow of separation to the Lord.  Hopefully, the Lord will reveal its significance to us.

Numbers 6:1-4 begins by saying,  “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When either a man or woman consecrates an offering to take the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to the Lord, 3 he shall separate himself from wine and similar drink; he shall drink neither vinegar made from wine nor vinegar made from similar drink; neither shall he drink any grape juice, nor eat fresh grapes or raisins. 4 All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine, from seed to skin.”  NKJV

The Nazirite vow seems like a very unusual vow with odd prohibitions.  The purpose of the Nazirite vow was for either a man or a woman to separate or devote himself to the Lord.  The primary requirement of this vow was not to eat or drink anything made from the grapevine including vinegar, juice, grapes, or raisins.

I searched the Scriptures to find a clue for the significance of this requirement and began to consider John 15:5-7 which says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.  6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.” NKJV

The first thing we learn from this verse is that Jesus is the main trunk of the grapevine and the branches are people who are supposed to bear spiritual fruit (Gal. 5:22-23).  When people choose not to abide in Christ, they become withered and dead.  Their fruit is comparable to the appearance of raisins which when squeezed yield no juice.  In other words, they have no blood or true life in them (Lev. 16:11).  They are spiritually dead.  This is a picture of the condition of the unrighteous.  We, as God’s people are to remain separate from those who practice lawlessness so we will not be influenced by them.  Any fruit they appear to have is counterfeit. 

Revelation 14:18-20 and Genesis 49:11 show us that on the day of the Lord, the wicked will be thrown into the winepress of the wrath of God and that their blood will be splashed up to the horses’ bridles and Jesus’ clothes will be stained with their blood.  Since these verses emphasize that the grapes represent the wicked, the vow of the Nazirite seems to teach us to separate from them and devote ourselves to the Lord.

Numbers 6:5-8 says, “All the days of the vow of his separation no razor shall come upon his head; until the days are fulfilled for which he separated himself to the Lord, he shall be holy. Then he shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow. 6 All the days that he separates himself to the Lord he shall not go near a dead body. 7 He shall not make himself unclean even for his father or his mother, for his brother or his sister, when they die, because his separation to God is on his head. 8 All the days of his separation he shall be holy to the Lord.”  NKJV

Notice that another requirement for the Nazirite vow is to let the hair grow long.  To understand the reason for this we must first recall that each believer is the temple of the Holy Spirit.  Since the Nazirite’s hair is to be grown long, it should remind us of a woman’s long hair.  First Corinthians 11:15 says it is given to her as a covering and it is a glory to her.  Since hair is the covering of our bodily temples, that should remind us that the sheets which covered the tabernacle were made of spun female goat’s hair (Ex. 26:7, 35:26).  Again, what we are seeing is that hair is a covering.   In an earlier post, we compared this covering to the incarnate Christ who was born of a virgin.  This gives new meaning to Psalm 3:3 where David said, “But You, O Lord, are a shield [covering] for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head.”  You see, ultimately, any glory we have comes from the Lord.  

Remember, the purpose of the Nazirite vow is to be consecrated to the Lord.  When Aaron was consecrated to the position of High Priest, anointing oil was poured on his head.  After that, he was clothed in the clothes of the High Priest including the turban with the plate of the golden crown which had “Consecrated to the Lord” or “Holiness to the Lord” engraved on it.  Based on this pattern, the Nazirite also represents the anointed High Priest and the fact he’s consecrated to the Lord.  In other words, he has separated himself from those around him in order to draw close to the Lord for a certain period of time. 

During the time of the Nazirite vow, the Nazirite was not to go near a dead body or become unclean because his separation to God was on his head.  The word for separation in verse 7 is nezer.  It means consecration, hair, separation, or crown.  In this instance, I think it should be translated as crown instead of separation because it links the idea that the hair on a Nazirite’s head is his glory until Jesus gives him a real crown of glory.  First Peter 5:4 explains, “and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.”  Second Timothy 4:8 refers to this crown as the crown of righteousness.

During Jesus’ ministry on earth, He often drank wine and became unclean (by healing the woman with issue of blood, healing lepers, and raising the dead) but while He’s in heaven, this is not the case.  If you recall, in Matthew 26:29, Jesus told His disciples, “But 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.”  By saying this, He was signaling the fact that He was starting a Nazirite vow.  For Jesus, this is a time in which He is physically separated from the Bride of Christ. 

Numbers 6:9-12 continues, “And if anyone dies very suddenly beside him, and he defiles his consecrated head, then he shall shave his head on the day of his cleansing; on the seventh day he shall shave it. 10 Then on the eighth day he shall bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons to the priest, to the door of the tabernacle of meeting; 11 and the priest shall offer one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering, and make atonement for him, because he sinned in regard to the corpse; and he shall sanctify his head that same day. 12 He shall consecrate to the Lord the days of his separation, and bring a male lamb in its first year as a trespass offering; but the former days shall be lost, because his separation was defiled.”  NKJV

This passage shows us that as we live our lives, we can un-expectantly come into contact with those who are spiritually dead.  Sometimes as a result of this, we give in to temptation and become defiled.  At that point, our relationship with God and possibly others is broken.  When that happens, we must repair the damage through repentance, by making any necessary restitution, and by re-consecrating ourselves to the Lord.  This is what is represented in the pattern of the Nazirite vow when the defiled hair was shaved off, sacrifices were offered, and the Nazirite vow began again.  

Numbers 6:13-21 tells us, “Now this is the law of the Nazirite: When the days of his separation are fulfilled, he shall be brought to the door of the tabernacle of meeting. 14 And he shall present his offering to the Lord: one male lamb in its first year without blemish as a burnt offering, one ewe lamb in its first year without blemish as a sin offering, one ram without blemish as a peace offering, 15 a basket of unleavened bread, cakes of fine flour mixed with oil, unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and their grain offering with their drink offerings.  16 ‘Then the priest shall bring them before the Lord and offer his sin offering and his burnt offering; 17 and he shall offer the ram as a sacrifice of a peace offering to the Lord, with the basket of unleavened bread; the priest shall also offer its grain offering and its drink offering. 18 Then the Nazirite shall shave his consecrated head at the door of the tabernacle of meeting, and shall take the hair from his consecrated head and put it on the fire which is under the sacrifice of the peace offering. 9 ‘And the priest shall take the boiled shoulder of the ram, one unleavened cake from the basket, and one unleavened wafer, and put them upon the hands of the Nazirite after he has shaved his consecrated hair, 20 and the priest shall wave them as a wave offering before the Lord; they are holy for the priest, together with the breast of the wave offering and the thigh of the heave offering. After that the Nazirite may drink wine.’  21 “This is the law of the Nazirite who vows to the Lord the offering for his separation, and besides that, whatever else his hand is able to provide; according to the vow which he takes, so he must do according to the law of his separation.”  NKJV

Somehow, I really like the imagery of this last passage.  I think the pattern reveals that when our time of physical separation from the Lord is over and He comes back to earth, we will draw near and worship Him with offerings.  Note there is a sin offering mentioned here.  That is probably for sins committed in ignorance.  Perhaps there is no trespass offering because there should be no reason for it.  The other offerings are to present ourselves to the Lord with our whole heart.  As the undefiled hair was shaved off and offered with the peace offering, I thought this was one of the best parts because it’s as if we will cast our crowns before Jesus because He is worthy to be praised and exalted forever and ever!  Not only that, the freedom to drink wine will signal the beginning of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb!  

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One thought on “The Nazirite Vow

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