Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Consecrating one's entire life

Numbers 6:2 “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When a man or woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to dedicate himself to the LORD"

For the past couple of days we have been looking at the subject of Christian consecration.  We have noted that consecration is when I by God's grace in sanctification, working in my heart, choose to cooperate and concentrate every area of my life on God.  So far we have noted how consecration functions like ripples in a pond:

1. Consecration of the heart Numbers 5:1-10
2. Consecration of your marriage Numbers 5:11-31

Today we continue on, moving to an even wider reaching vision of consecration - consecration of one's entire life.

Nazarites - people whose entire life was about consecration
The Hebrew root for the word Nazarite (Nazir) means "consecrated, devoted, dedicated."  According to the "Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament", page 1340, the word Nazir had to do with "keeping away oneself from something."  Negatively it speaks of separation, positively it referred to the placing of a crown on top of one's head - an object designating the special office of the wearer.

In the history of the redemption we find four, and possibly a fifth man who took the Nazirite vow of dedication spelled out here in Numbers 6.  Clearly the Nazarite is a visual picture of the concept of consecration.  The words "dedicate", or "separation" occur no less than 14 times in Numbers 6.  Among other things, the Nazarite (male or female) had to abstain from "wine and strong drink" (Numbers 6:3) or even anything produced from the grapes. No razor is to be near his hair (6:5), nor is he to touch a dead body (6:6) nor is he to defile himself even in mourning for his family when they die by touching them (6:7).  

Three men that were life-time Nazarites for sure were Samson (Judges 13:5); Samuel (1 Samuel 1:11) and John the Baptist (Luke 1:15).  Gathering from their practices and foods that they abstained from, we can reasonably connect them to the prescriptions laid down here in Numbers 6.  The Apostle Paul in Acts 18:18 appears to have "taken a vow" which ended when he cut his hair.  Thus Paul illustrates a man who took a short-term Nazarite vow. 

The fifth possible man in the Bible who may have been a Nazarite was James, the author of the N.T book bearing his name.  In reading the first Church Historian Eusebius in his "Ecclesiastical Church History", Book 2, Chapter 23, reference is made from an eyewitness of James' life.  The witness was named Hesigeppus (Hes-i-gep-pus), who tells us of James having long hair, being a Nazarite and being a man of great piety.  In fact, he was known to have had knees like a camel for his long season of intercessory prayer.  James was martyred, being thrown from the pinnacle of the temple for refusing to renounce Christ.  Even while the mobs were stoning him (he didn't die after that high fall!), he prayed, in likeness to Jesus, that their sin be not held against them. 

Why consecration of one's life truly brings glory to God
When you look at the lives of some of those who were Nazarites, you begin to understand why consecration of one's life can truly demonstrate a devoted heart to the Lord.  Imagine a Samuel, whose resolve to proclaim God's Word in a day where the word of the Lord was scarce led to the anointing of not one, but two men who would occupy the throne of Israel. (1 Samuel 3:1)  The Bible tells us that not one word of Samuel fell to the ground (1 Samuel 3:19).

Or how about John the Baptist, of whom Jesus said was the greatest man born of women. (Luke 7:28)  He was the prophetic forerunner to the Messiah.  His consecration to God was a desire given to him by the Holy Spirit, who uniquely filled him from the womb, and who stated he was to be a Nazarite in vow. (Luke 1:15)  His undying commitment to his mission to exalt the Savior, even to the point where he utters the words: "he must increase, but I must decrease". (John 3:30) 

And if we take the testimony of history to be true (from not only the writings of Eusebius, the father of church history, but Josephus, the father of Jewish history so to speak), then we know that James was a man passionate about Christ and His word.  It was this James who was Jesus' half-brother in the flesh.  It was this same James who led the early church in Acts 15 and who authored the Book of James. 

To consecrate one's entire life is far from a cold, sterile activity.  Every Christian is called to give up all they have to follow Jesus Christ through the death of self in preference to the Master. (Luke 9:23-24)  Consecration is truly the chief expression of a true disciple willing to cooperate with God in the growth of their faith-walk with Jesus Christ. 

1 comment:

  1. You wrote this about 3 years ago and it's for me in 2015. Thank you. I pray that God continues to give you the wisdom to eloquently tie His word to our daily lives. Proof that His word has ALL that we need.