Wednesday: Psalm 24-26; Numbers 6.1-21; 1 John 3.4-10

From: Mark Booker

Are you dedicated fully to Jesus? 

Numbers 6.1-21 addresses the temporary and voluntary Nazirite vow. This was a vow taken by people in Israel to be set apart to God for a period of time. It includes abstaining from three things: from alcohol and any food/drink related to grapes, from haircuts, and from any contact with corpses. Interestingly, these were all areas in which there were regulations for priests as well, those who constantly lived in the presence of the Lord. So we can think of a Nazarite as a kind temporary lay-priest, set apart to God and therefore conforming to higher standards of ritual purity for the duration of the vow. 
Of course, all Israel was set apart for God all the time. We can think back to Exodus 19.6, "You shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." So when an Israelite saw a Nazarite (easily identified by the uncut hair), he or she would be reminded of the call on the whole nation to be set apart for God.

The Nazarite gave up earthly joys (signified in wine, the primary symbol of joy in the ancient world), gave up control of their life (hair represented life, so not cutting one's hair signified handing over one's life to God), and avoided the realm of death (corpses caused ritual impurity - see e.g. Numbers 5.2). Will we give up such things to be dedicated to Jesus, to know more of God: earthly joys, control, contact with the realm of sin and death? Where do we hold back? And why?

One other interesting note in the passage: even those so wholly dedicated required atonement. Note all the sacrifices required for involuntarily breaking the vow (6.9-12, by someone close to you dying) and for re-entry into normal life (6.13-20). If even the most set apart of Israelite society required atonement, how much more do we? 

Thanks be to God for the provision of Jesus, not just as an example of the one who was fully dedicated to God but also, and especially, as the atoning sacrifice whose "blood cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1.7). Even when our lives are most dedicated to God, as we seek for them to be, they fall woefully short of God's holiness. And in our inevitable shortcoming, we are left giving thanks for God's amazing provision in the death of his son.

Sorry heat-lovers, I'm very happy that today is the last day of summer which means that my favorite season of the year begins tomorrow. One highlight of fall: the annual Booker family leaf pile rumble.