OLD TESTAMENT READING: Numbers 6:7:89
Numbers 6 teaches us about the Nazarite vow. The word “Nazarite” comes from the Hebrew word “to separate”. It is a vow of separation unto the Lord. Therefore, a Nazarite is “a separated one”. The word ‘separate’ or ‘separation’ appears 16 times in this chapter.
The Nazarite vow could be taken by any person, male or female (see Numbers 30:4) who would voluntarily abstain from certain worldly privileges in order to dedicate themselves to serving God. The vow could be for a limited period, such as in the case of the Apostle Paul (Acts 21:23-27), or a lifetime, such as in the case of Samson (Judges 13:5;16:7), Samuel, or John the Baptist.
The degree of abstinence may vary but we learn from Numbers Chapter 6 that they restricted themselves from eating any product of the grape, the fruit of the vine. They abstained from cutting their hair, and from being polluted by coming in contact with a dead body, even if it were that of a close relative.
The vine was a symbol of the joy and prosperity that comes from this earth. Wine whetted the appetite for luxurious indulgence, inflamed passion, and could intoxicate the brain.
The long hair was a symbol of that which comes from the physical head of mankind. Those who took the vow were mindful that they were under a headship that was not their own, but the headship of God. It was a reminder of the vow that had been made. It was a sign of dedication and devotion to God. When the time of the vow was fulfilled, the hair would be shaved off the head and put on the altar’s fire as an offering to the Lord. The devotee would also bring a sin offering, a burnt offering, and a peace offering. There would also be an offering of consecration, a basket of unleavened cakes of fine flour mixed with oil, along with a grain offering and a drink offering.
The Nazarite was not to go near a dead body, including that of a close relative. Not only was the Nazarite separated from the strong pull of natural affection that might compromise one’s devotion to God, but they recognized that by this action they were separated from death unto life.
THE AARONIC BLESSING
Numbers 6:22- 27 contains the well-known benediction which the LORD gave Moses to give Aaron and his sons with which they were to bless the people of Israel. It is a prophetic picture of how God’s favor is turned upon us through our perfect mediator Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:6 (NASB) 6 For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
Numbers 6:24-26 (NASB) 24 The LORD bless you, and keep you;
25 The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you;
26 The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.’
Numbers 7 records the offerings of the leaders of the tribes who served as overseers. They were abundant and sacrificial, a cart for every two leaders and an ox for every one.
Moses distributed these gifts to Aaron’s sons. Two carts and four oxen went to Gershon, while 4 carts and 8 oxen went to Merari. No carts and oxen were given to the Kohathites for they were to transport the holy furnishings on poles of wood carried upon their shoulders (a picture of our taking up our cross to bear the presence and ministry of the Lord).
For twelve days the leaders made their offerings, one leader per day.
The chapter concludes first with Moses going into the tabernacle to speak with the Lord and then the Lord speaking audibly to Moses from above the mercyseat. Everything God says to us comes through the cross, by way of the mercyseat, representing the place where justice has been satisfied by the perfect work of redemption that Jesus accomplished on our behalf.
Numbers 7:89 (NASB) 89 Now when Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with Him, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim, so He spoke to him.
NEW TESTAMENT READING: Mark 12:38-13:13
The 12th chapter of Mark concludes with the dramatic contrast between those who play the role of being devoted to God and those who truly are.
The sacrificial offering of the widow who gave two copper coins as an offering to God was estimated by Jesus to be of more value than all the other contributors to the temple’s treasury box. God sees not only how much we give, but how much we keep back. He can see not only what is inside the treasury box but also what is in our hearts.
King Herod the Great had doubled the size of the temple from what it was during the reign of Solomon. When one of Jesus’ disciples praised the wonderful buildings on the temple mount, Jesus predicted that not one stone would be left upon another which would not be torn down.
How accurately this prophecy was fulfilled in 70 AD! When Titus of Rome, the son of Vespasian, ransacked Jerusalem, the temple was destroyed completely. Tradition has it that the intense flames of the temple fire caused the abundant gold and silver to melt and run between the stones. Roman soldiers totally dismantled each stone to extract the valuable gold. So not one stone was left upon another.
Jesus also gives his disciples signs that point to His return at the end of the age. He speaks of people easily being misled by those who come in His name, even claiming to be Him! We are seeing more people in our day who claim to be Jesus. Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda of Miami claimed to be the second return of Christ, the antichrist, and he had thousands of followers who believed him because of the miracles they had seen and the teaching they had heard. He died of cirrhosis of the liver in 2013. His followers, thinking he was immortal, had a hard time coping with his death.
Allan John Miller of Australia claims he is the real son of God. “I am Jesus” he says. He leads a growing group of followers called “Divine Truth” who believe they are bringing in the kingdom.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS- PSALM 49:1-20
Psalm 49 reminds us that wealth cannot save us from death nor earn us a right standing with God. Wealth becomes a false security to many. Money cannot rescue you on this side of the grave or on the other side.
Psalm 49:10-12 (NASB) 10 For he sees that even wise men die; The stupid and the senseless alike perish and leave their wealth to others. 11 Their inner thought is that their houses are forever and their dwelling places to all generations; They have called their lands after their own names.
12 But man in his pomp will not endure; He is like the beasts that perish.
Mark 8:36 36 “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?”
The redemption of the human soul is costly. Only the God-man Jesus Christ can ransom us from the grave and redeem us from the curse of the law.
Psalm 49:15 (NASB) 15 But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol, For He will receive me. Selah.
TODAY’S PROVERB- PROVERBS 10:27-28
Proverbs 10:27-28 (NASB) 27 The fear of the LORD prolongs life, But the years of the wicked will be shortened. 28 The hope of the righteous is gladness, But the expectation of the wicked perishes.
PRAYER FOR THE NATIONS: Belgium
According to “Operation World”, although confined to a small part of the population, the evangelical faith in Belgium has never been stronger.
Belgium is a deeply divided nation. For 2,000 years, its territory has straddled the cultural divide between the Latin/Romance and Germanic worlds. Walloon-Flemish rivalry and resentments color the use of language, the economy, politics, religious life, and worldviews of both communities. The growing immigrant population adds a third angle to this dynamic. An eventual breakup of Belgium is within the realm of possibility; this defining issue has paralyzed political progress. Pray that national leaders at every level may have wisdom regarding this complex challenge. Pray that the Church might be a profound example of unity to the wider society, and that real reconciliation and peace might be shaped in Belgium.
PRAYER: Father, we thank You that our Great High Priest, the Lord Jesus, has caused the light of Your countenance to fall upon us. He has mediated on our behalf, through His perfect righteousness, every possible favor and blessing! We are so grateful! He separated Himself from seeking his own pleasure, to do Your will, that we also might have the joy of being separated unto You! You have made us glad! In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
So, naturally, we proclaim Christ! We warn everyone we meet, and we teach everyone we can, all that we know about him, so that, if possible, we may bring every man up to his full maturity in Christ. (Colossians 1:28, J.B. Phillips paraphrase)
New Life Community Church, Concord, MA 10742 www.newlife.org