The vow of the Nazarite was voluntarily made by those who desired “to separate themselves unto the LORD” (v.2) for a determined season. “All the days of his separation he is holy unto the LORD” (v.8). During the time of his separation, the Nazarite was bound by three absolute restrictions.
- First, he could eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk (v.4).
Second, there shall not razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled (v.5).
Third, during the days of his separation, he shall come at no dead body (v.6).
At the end of his separation, specific sacrifices must be made at which time “the hair of his separation is shaven” (v.19). At that time, the restrictions of the vow are removed.
The vow was offered voluntarily. Evidently, the Nazarite himself determined the length of the vow. Therefore, he decided how much he was willing to sacrifice. Yet, after the vow was made, its requirements were very strict. Consider the three restrictions placed on the Nazarite. As a whole, they illustrate the cost of discipleship for the believer today.
First, the Nazarite could drink no wine or grape juice or eat anything that came from the vine. Wine and grape juice have a wide and varied use in typology. They picture many things. Yet, one Old Testament type remains fairly consistent. The fruit of the vine pictures joy – as in the joy of harvest.
Psalm 4:7 – “Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased.”
Psalm 128:3 – “Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table.”
One who separates himself to the service of Christ must be willing to give up some of the joys of this life for the sake of the Saviour. Christ said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself” (Luke 9:23). To serve the Lord fully, you must be willing to deny yourself some of this earth’s pleasures. Sinful pleasures must certainly go. But God may ask you to sacrifice seemingly harmless pleasures for His service. If you really want to serve Him, you must be willing to sacrifice whatever He requires.
Second, the Nazarite could not cut his hair during the time of separation. If his vow was for a long time, his hair would grow long. But in the Bible, long hair on a man indicates shame (1 Corinthians 11:14). Someone who willingly takes upon himself that which causes shame has conquered his pride. The disciple must be willing to take upon himself that which causes the world to scorn and laugh at him.
“If any man will come after me, let him…take up his cross daily” (Luke 9:23). Paul speaks of “the offence of the cross” (Galatians 5:11). Peter teaches the believers who suffer for the cause of Christ to “rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings (1 Peter 4:13). True discipleship requires us to be willing to suffer shame for His name’s sake.
Third, the Nazarite was prohibited from touching any dead body. He must totally separate from death. Once again consider the requirements of discipleship as found in Luke 9:23. (You may have noticed that the three restrictions on the Nazarite perfectly match the three requirements of the disciple as found in this verse.) “If any man will come after me, let him…follow me.”
The entire world is dead in trespasses and sins. In order to serve the Lord with all our hearts, we must follow Christ entirely and turn our backs on the things of this world. Christ told the would-be disciple, “Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead” (Matthew 8:22). To follow Christ requires us to separate from the deadness of this world.
Paul taught this truth in Galatians 6:14 – “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” Paul got to the point where the world had no attraction for him. It was dead (“crucified”) to him. We must separate ourselves from the death of this world if we would be true disciples.
What would God have you sacrifice for His sake? Whatever pleasure it may bring you, the joy of obedience is greater still. What shame would He have you take upon yourself? That is your cross. Bear it with thanksgiving and Christ will reward you accordingly. From what, or from whom, would God have you separate? Separate yourself and Christ will be ever so glorious in your sight! May we all separate ourselves to be holy unto the Lord.