"This is the law of the Nazarite." Numb. 6:21
Here a new ordinance appears. It seems a special flower
set by God's hand within the garden of the Jewish code. Therefore let
special fragrance now be sought by faith, for surely special fragrance may
Israel's whole race was severed from the world. But the
wide circumference encompassed a narrower circle. Where all were separate,
the Nazarites occupied special separation.
These stood apart, as a peculiar dedication to the Lord.
Amid surrounding columns they rose the highest pyramids. Among God's
servants they wore distinctive clothing. Where all were nationally holy,
they showed the holiest badge.
They bound themselves by voluntary vows. Some mighty
motive must have urged their hearts. But it is not revealed. Conjecture may
suppose, but cannot be assured. The vow might be the act of men weighed down
by consciousness of sin--appalled by sight of inborn evil--or penitent for
grievous falls. It might be gratitude for signal mercies. It might be zeal
to arouse others to think more of God. But the real cause is veiled. This
only is declared, that Nazarites, obeying a strong impulse, gave themselves
peculiarly to God.
My soul, the Nazarite here speaks with warning voice to
you. Your days, are they devoted service? Your public walk, is it
resplendent godliness? Are all observers led to mark, that you are wholly
God's? But surely above all you should be pre-eminently His.
Think of His dealings with you--His tender love--and
smiles of never-failing care. Think of your Jesus--His cross--His blood--His
wounds--His agonies. Think of the mercy-seat--the interceding prayer--the
coming glory--the eternity of bliss. Think of hell merited, and heaven your
free-grace home. Surely each morn should see you self-bound by stricter
vow--and dedicated to more signal piety.
The Nazarite's motives are unknown. But Nazarite-rules
are rigidly prescribed. They are threefold. Let them now be viewed.
1. No juice of GRAPE, no produce of the vine, from
seed unto skin, may touch the consecrated lips. Not only the intoxicating
cup is banished far, but all, which grows on the intoxicating tree.
Enticement's total troop, from first to last, must be expelled. Like Achan,
and his little ones--all must die. Numb. 6:3, 4.
Believer, this principle is broad and deep. You openly
avow, that you are not your own. Your body--spirit--mind and soul--are
purchased by redeeming blood. They all are bound a living sacrifice to the
one altar--Christ. Hence you must keep them
pure--clean--bright--strong--vigorous for His work. They should stand, as
servants with loins girt--ready at all times to discharge His will.
Then sedulously flee whatever, like the juice of grape,
may tend to weaken the firm energy, or to stir up the sleeping brood of
sensual and ungodly lusts. Alas! what evil lingers still in every saintly
heart! A sudden spark may cause a fearful blaze. Keep far from the beguiling
Touch not the seed or the skin. Flee not strong potions
only, but all that may insidiously corrupt the taste. More than gross vice
is branded here. Evils may enter in a pigmy form. At first they may seem
harmless, as the gentle dove. Avoid them. They are the cancer's touch. They
are the weed's first seed. Rapidly they grow. Fatally they spread. Mightily
they strengthen. Soon they pervade the weakened soul.
2. No RAZOR approaches the Nazarite's hair. His
flowing locks openly announce his separate state. His head pre-eminently
bears the signal of his service. The dedication must not be a secret act,
known only to the conscience and the Lord. The front must witness, that the
man is God's. Numb. 6:5.
Believer, here is another lesson for your life. Religion
is not for the closet or the knees alone. It is not a lily, growing only in
the shade. It is to be the one attire, in which you move abroad--the holy
crown of hair, which sparkles on your brow. It must be conspicuous, as locks
pendant from the head. It is not to be cut short or hidden. It must arrest
attention. Like the flag, it must proclaim the country, to which the ship
Christian meekness, and the Spirit's wisdom, never
conceal our faith. Truth scorns all cowardly modesty. Bold honesty rejects
such timid shame. Pure religion shines as the sun without one cloud. Thus
others profit by its rays. Thus, like an attractive magnet, it draw souls to
3. He must AVOID ALL CONTACT WITH THE DEAD. He
must not close the eyes of his expiring friends, or catch their parting
breath, or bear their corpses to the grave. Among the living, he must live.
Where life is absent, he must be absent too. Numb. 6:6, 7.
Why is death to be thus shunned? Reasons are obvious. It
is the penalty of sin--the sign of God's most righteous wrath. It is a proof
of innocence destroyed--of evil touched--of vengeance merited. It is
abomination's colleague. Therefore it is emblem of what holy men should
abhor. Life, too, is God's inseparable essence. He cannot die. Therefore to
intermix with death, denotes a separation from our God.
Here is again a rule for Christian walk. He, who is
Christ's, must flee the touch of everything allied to sin. The holy garments
may not be defiled. The blood-washed feet must shun polluted paths. The
vessels for the Master's use may have no stain. The spirit's temple must be
pure. Corruption in no form may soil it.
Believer, rigidly apply this maxim. It drives you from
the contagion of ungodly scenes. How many crowds are nothing but a crowded
charnel-house! The bodies breathe, but hold no breathing soul. The
words--the works--are odious, as an open grave. Arise--depart. The living
dwell not amid tombs. The atmosphere pollutes. Depart, touch not the dead.
How many books are deathful! They may have fascinating
garb. But they are only gay, as corpses decked with flowers. Their taint
destroys. Their chilly touch corrupts.
This rule brands many a pulpit, as a plague-spot. A
lifeless teacher often guides in paths of death. No spark from heaven has
vivified his soul. What, then, but putrefaction issues from his lips? On
earth there is not a more pitiable sight, than death, in a preacher's form,
digging the grave of souls.
Here, too, we see the misery of those, who by dead works
expect to buy soul-life. All works are dead, which grow not on the stem of
faith. Such are but rotten berries. They live not unto God. How can they
But no precautionary care can always keep men from the
dying scene. Death has an unrestricted range. It moves among the busy
haunts. Its icy hand is everywhere. In every spot it seizes victims. Thus
the most watchful Nazarite might most unwillingly stand by the dead.
If so, corruption has been by his side--pollution has
polluted him--his vow is broken. Therefore atonement must be made. The
ordinance now commands him, as guilty, to seek God. He is required to place
a whole burnt-offering on the blazing altar. He must then add a sacrifice
for sin. Moreover, as a debtor, he must buy remission by a
trespass-offering. Thus the chief types, which shadowed out Christ's blood,
must all be brought.
This is not all. The former period of his Nazarate is
cancelled. The previous days are counted, as lost time. He must cut short
the locks, which hitherto had proved his separate state. He must commence
afresh his dedicated walk. Numb. 6:9-12.
Hark! What a voice here cries, Beware of sudden evil!
Satan is a lurking foe. He shoots his darts from hidden ambushes. When all
seems safe, a wound is given. There is a pitfall in the firmest paths. Where
least suspected, nets are spread. David arose, unconscious of the slippery
ground. A few brief moments rolled him in the mire. But there is hope for
suddenly contracted guilt. This type attests this blessed truth. It bids the
failing Nazarite to recover his lost state by offerings of blood. Reader, at
all times there is an open access to a remitting God. There is a Savior
waiting to obliterate. Come, plead His merits--present His expiating death.
There is no stain, which He removes not.
The type, moreover, shows, that pardon found must be the
starting post of new devotedness. The washed feet ascend anew the holy hill.
The cleansed hands fight with more vigor. The Nazarite, passing the
appointed gate, enters again upon his sacred course.
These reconciling rites were ordered, if the offence were
sudden, unintended, and abhorred. But what, if deliberate transgression be
indulged? The ordinance is silent here; and thus warns solemnly. Where shall
he turn, who turns presumptuously from God? Where is his hope, who boldly
touches sin? Reader, never burst conscience-bounds. Grieve not the Spirit's
gentle mind. Drive not the holy inhabitant from your breast. Some, who ran
well, have wantonly cast off the gracious yoke. The after-course has been
fall upon fall, without a check or turn.
The Nazarite vow continued only for a fixed time.
The days expired. The vow was then discharged. The badge of consecration was
But grand solemnities attested the completion of this
hallowed state. The Nazarite enters the tabernacle's gate. He stands beside
the sacrificing altar. He brings each victim, which symbolizes sin's desert.
No rite is absent, which confesses need of remission, and trust in
reconciling blood. A lamb, as a burnt-offering, dies. A lamb again, as a
sin-offering, is utterly consumed. A perfect ram, as a peace-offering,
solicits peace. Meat-offerings in every form are piled. Drink-offerings in
abundance flow. Voluntary gifts profusely follow. All hair is next shorn
off. The fire receives it. It ascends in the ascending flame of the
peace-offering. Numb. 6:13-21.
But why is there this expenditure of blood? What is the
significance of this multitude of rites? They all seek expiation. They all
look onward to the cross--and thus they graphically show, that holiest
deeds of holiest men can only find acceptance through the dying Jesus.
For surely this full train of pardon-petitioning sacrifice distinctly
states, that the Nazarite's devoted course still needed to be cleansed.
Believer, is not this the conscious feeling of your
humbled soul? You are the Lord's. You strive to serve
Him--wholly--unreservedly--forever. You would bring to Him your every
moment--faculty--and power. You would present the offering of your
thoughts--your words--your works. But ah! what failures! You would do
good--evil is present. In public acts, what inconsistency! In private
duties, what outbreakings of corruption! In the closet, evil thoughts
assail. On the knees, the tempter haunts. Some base imagination stains
ascending praise. Your self-denial is too often self-indulgence. The
badge of the 'Nazarite vow' too
often hides a worldling's heart. What, then,
shall be done? Behold the cross. There is your only help. Thence only is
your peace. In that most precious blood you only can obliterate your guilt.
Come, wash therein your every duty--service--prayer--thanksgiving. Cleanse
there the stains of your most holy hours. Live under vows, as a strict
Nazarite. But wrestle for forgiveness, as a sad short-comer.