Numbers 6.

In considering this subject, it must ever be borne in mind that there were two kinds of Nazarites in the past dispensation. There were those like Samson and John the Baptist, who were Nazarites from their birth (Judges 13:7, Luke 1:15); and there were those who, as in Numbers 6, vowed "a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the Lord." In a general sense, it might be said that all Christians answer to the former, inasmuch as they are separated unto God through conversion and the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, and hence they are saints by calling. The latter class will represent rather those who are called out, and who in obedience to the divine call devote themselves, to some special service in the power of the Holy Ghost. But whether the former or the latter, both alike were to be separated from all that man, as man, finds pleasure in, and from all defilement, in order to be wholly for God. Things lawful even, that is, not evil in themselves, were to. be renounced that nothing might interfere with a full and entire response to the absolute claims of God.

Before explaining the typical details of our chapter, it may help to point out that the perfect illustration of the Nazarite path of consecration is seen in the life of our Lord and Saviour. Now He is actually separated from sinners (Heb. 7:26), but when on earth He was morally as separate from them as now that He is in heaven. As another has remarked, "He was ever separated from human joy as from all evil - there was no honey as there was no leaven, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, as passing in holy love through a world of sinners - His love driven back, and thus Himself straightened and pent up: the atonement opened its sluices." It is only, indeed, as one carefully studies the gospels, that the discovery is made how complete the separation of Christ was. Coming to do God's will, He was wholly for Him in every thought, and word, and act; but this involved His being apart, not only from evil, but also from those things in which even a Christian ordinarily finds comfort and refreshment. "Thy mother and Thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with Thee." His answer was, for the consecration of His God was upon His head, "Who is My mother? and who are My brethren?" And then, stretching forth His hand towards His disciples, He said, "Behold my mother and my brethren." When, moreover, He received the message that Lazarus, whom He loved, was sick, He abode two days still where He was, refusing to gratify His own affections, because He was here to do the will of the Father alone. The most accessible of men, as sometimes said, He was yet the loneliest of all, because of His perfect devotedness to the glory of His God.

If we keep Him before our souls, we shall be better able to comprehend the teaching of our chapter. One difference has to be remembered in the application to ourselves. The Nazarite separated himself from certain things that he might be "unto the Lord." The Christian separates himself because he has been set apart for God. Not of the world, even as Christ is not of the world, he seeks grace, for example, to be kept from its evil, according to the prayer of our blessed Lord. (John 17.) There are, then, three things which were to characterise the Nazarite. He was to separate himself, in the first place, from wine and strong drink; and, in fact, he was to touch nothing that was made of the vine tree, from the kernels to the husk. Taking, then, the symbolic meaning, a Nazarite was to be outside all human joy, the joy of natural relationship and of social intercourse. It will be remembered that this form of Nazariteship is connected with a call to special service; and hence, when all Christians are included, as in Ephesians, the exhortation is, "Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit." Only, if we are filled with the Spirit, we shall be borne into a region outside of all earthly joys, inasmuch as the Spirit will become the source of our thoughts, feelings, affections, and enjoyments. And who can doubt that the more entirely we are "unto the Lord," the more our hearts will be filled with His joy? (See John 15:11.)

Moreover, "all the days of the vow of his separation" no razor was to come upon his head. As the apostle reminds the Corinthians, nature itself teaches that if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him. This affords the key for the interpretation of this particular. It is really giving up one's place, as man in the world for God's will - the renunciation, or laying aside, of his position and rights with the view of being free for God's service. This was exactly what Christ did. With the title and right to everything, He gave up all, claimed nothing, and never asserted His rights. Thus, while the foxes had holes, and the birds of the air had their roosting places, He had not where to lay His head; and, on this very account, He warned those round about Him, that, unless they forsook all they had, they could not be His disciples. It is for each of us to say in how far this feature is exemplified in our lives. It carries us, as will be confessed by all, into a region completely outside of the first man and his things; but it is essential for us to be in this region, if the spirit of the meek and lowly Jesus is to be displayed in our walk and ways. The saddest thing of all is the exhibition of the contrary spirit, the spirit of man in the midst of those on whom the light of the truth has been shining unhinderedly for so many years.

The third thing enjoined is that, during the days of his separation unto the Lord, he shall come at no dead body; he was not even to "make himself unclean for his father, or for his mother, for his brother, or for his sister, when they die: because the consecration of his God is upon his head." Death is the fruit and consequence of sin, and on this account it was regarded as defiling. We thus read in chap. 19 that "whosoever toucheth one that is slain with a sword in the open fields, or a dead body, or a bone of a man, or a grave, shall be unclean seven days" (v. 16). For us, the defilement is contracted through contact with moral death; and consequently a dead man will represent one dead in his sins. And it is a very solemn consideration for us all that, situated as many are in the midst of unconverted relatives, defilements may be so readily incurred. The blessed Lord, being what He was, and ever in perfect and unclouded communion with His Father, could touch the leper and not be unclean; but we, with that in us which answers to the evil in the heart of those morally dead - with the same nature indeed - are easily defiled, even when seeking to deliver them from that which has alienated them from God. How much, therefore, we need to be on our guard in our daily conversation, if we would preserve our place of separation and of communion Let us never forget, then, that all the days of our separation  -  and this, for the Christian, is the whole of his life - we are holy unto the Lord (v. 8). We shall then recognize, at all times, whatever intimate relative appeals may be made, the absoluteness of God's claims.

Provision is next made for what might almost be termed accidental defilement, through the case of a man dying "very suddenly" by the Nazarite. It is supposed that he could not help himself, as there would be no opportunity for precaution, or for avoidance of the uncleanness. But, in the interpretation, we have to enquire into what would answer to this for ourselves. Sudden and unexpected contact with one morally dead in our homes, or when in the midst of our occupations, or any manifestation of the flesh, or sin committed, in our presence, might be the cause of defilement. We say "might be," because in chapter 19 we learn, in a similar case, that it was only the open vessel, which had no covering bound upon it, which was rendered unclean. This will teach that when we are walking in the power of the Holy Ghost in the maintenance of communion, we are closed against, and repel the defiling influences by which we may be surrounded. There is no necessity, indeed, as John declares, that the believer should sin; but then he adds, "he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not." There must, therefore, be for this end incessant watchfulness, and the preservation within us of an ungrieved Spirit.

In the old dispensation, the Nazarite, under the ceremonial law, could not, in the case supposed, help being defiled; and the Spirit of God turns this to account by giving us a very solemn instruction concerning the consequences of defiling the head of our consecration. Although the defilement might be accidentally contracted, so to speak, the Nazarite could not go on as if nothing had happened, but he must take full account of his state, for God cannot go on with defilement, if we can. First, he must have a thorough sense of his condition before God. Seven days must elapse before he could be cleansed - seven days, that he might view himself according to God - and then he was to shave his head, remove the public sign (his long hair) of his Nazariteship. After this, on the eighth day, the commencement of a new period (the resurrection day for us, which introduces us into that new order of things which the resurrection of Christ has inaugurated), he was to bring a sin offering and a burnt offering to the priest, to make an atonement for him, to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation - Jehovah's meeting place with His people. In a word, he was to be brought anew under the full efficacy of the sacrifice of Christ; and lastly, he was again to hallow his head, and offer a lamb for a trespass offering. Thus we learn that God will have His people understand what uncleanness is in His sight, and that nothing can avail to remove it but the efficacy of the sacrifice of Him who is the propitiation for our sins. What a comfort, therefore, it is to know, that if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

Lastly, remark that "the days that were before" the Nazarite's defilement were lost, because his separation was defiled. All had to be recommenced. Let the following words explain this: "Anything which brings us into contact with sin produces its effect on our Nazariteship. We lose the power attached to the communion of God, and the special presence of the Spirit with us, whatever be the measure in which this power was granted to us. Alas! the time which has preceded is lost; we must begin again. It is great grace that all privilege of serving God is not taken from us; but though it be not, we suffer something from the effects of our unfaithfulness, when the power is restored unto us. A blind Samson was obliged to kill himself in killing his enemies. It belongs to us, in any case, immediately to acknowledge our defilement, to go to Christ, and not pretend to be Nazarites externally, when we are not so in the eyes of God. Nothing is more perilous than the service of God, when the conscience is not pure; however, let us ever recollect that we are under grace." May these weighty observations have their due effect in each one of our souls!