Numbers 6



The Nazirite (6:1–21)

1–12 The Nazirite vow could be made by any man or woman who desired to show special devotion and dedication to the Lord. There were three requirements for making such a vow: first, the Nazirite had to abstain from any product made from grapes, including the grapes themselves (verses 3–4); second, he or she had to avoid getting near a dead body—even if it were one’s mother or father (verses 6–7); and third, Nazirites were not to cut their hair during the period of the vow (verse 5). These three requirements were similar in some ways to the requirements for priests in regard to not drinking wine while on duty (Leviticus 10:8–9) and avoiding dead bodies (Leviticus 21:1–4,10–11). However, the restriction on cutting one’s hair was unique to the Nazirite vow; indeed, the long, uncut hair was itself the primary mark of a male Nazirite and symbolized his separation to the LORD (verse 5).

Nazirites, then, voluntarily submitted to these requirements out of love and reverence for the Lord. They were not simply exercising self—discipline or inflicting hardship on themselves in order to gain religious merit; they made the vow in order to be fully consecrated21 to the Lord (verse 8). But having made the vow, they were then obligated to carry it out fully22 (Deuteronomy 23:21–23).

13–17 When the period of the vow came to an end, the Nazirite publicly presented offerings23 at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, or tabernacle (verses 13–15).

18–21 Finally, the Nazirite was to cut off his hair and burn it on the altar to symbolize that the vow had been completed (verse 18). Then, verse 20, the priest was to present a concluding wave offering to the Lord (see Exodus 29:24; Leviticus 7:30). If the Nazirite could afford additional offerings, he or she could offer them (verse 21); but the basic vow had to be fulfilled.

This section on the Nazirite vow teaches us that “total consecration” to the Lord isn’t something that applies only to priests and pastors; it applies to every believer. The offerings required of the Nazirite were similar to those required of the priests at their ordination. Thus a “lay person” could be as consecrated to God as a priest. This is true of Christians also, because we all have been designated as priests (1 Peter 2:5,9).

The Priestly Blessing (6:22–27)

22–24 The ancient blessing contained in these verses is still used by Christians today. It has always been God’s idea to give people blessings; we don’t have to beg for them. Blessings flow to us from God out of His love and grace. The LORD bless you.24

. . . and keep you (verse 24). The Lord is our keeper (Psalm 121:7–8). Just as a good shepherd keeps his sheep safe, so Jesus kept His sheep safe (John 10:11–16).

25 . . . the LORD make his face shine upon you. The Lord’s “face” is His presence; when it “shines” on us, the Lord is showing that He accepts us and is pleased with us.

. . . and be gracious to you. Grace is one of the most important words in the Bible. Being gracious is one of God’s major attributes. Grace is never earned, never deserved by us; grace is a pure gift of God that He gives to us because He loves us and because He is faithful to the covenant He has made with us (Deuteronomy 7:7-9).

26 . . . the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace. The Lord turned His face toward the Israelites because He had chosen them from among all the nations to be His special people. And He turns His face toward us because He has chosen us in Christ from before the creation of the world (Ephesians 1:3–4).

And the Lord gives us His peace.25 PEACE is another of the Bible’s most important words. Peace doesn’t only mean freedom from war and conflict; it means well—being, wholeness, rightness. It means peace with God, acceptance by God. Such peace comes only from God Himself (John 14:27).

Over and over in the New Testament, Paul opens his letters by wishing his readers grace and peace. The grace and peace of God were the two pillars of Israel’s faith, and they are the two pillars of the Christian faith as well. By God’s grace, through FAITH in Christ, we have peace with God (Romans 5:1).

27 When He had finished the blessing, God said, “So they (the priests) will put my name on the Israelites.” God’s name on the people signified His ownership of them. And one day, in the final gathering of God’s people, He will again put His name on all believers. They will see his face,and his name will be on their foreheads (Revelation 22:4). Thus the promises contained in this ancient blessing were not just for the Israelites; they also are for all of us who long one day to see God face to face.