I don’t usually write messages that I preach at church up here (maybe I should) but I thought this message which I brought at our evening meeting last night could be a helpful insight for someone!
We know that Christianity is free… but to follow Jesus will cost you everything! There is a price to pay to walk in the power of God, but this price has nothing to do with our sin as Jesus has already paid for that. No, the price we pay has to do with the changes that need to happen in our lives to accomodate more of God’s presence and power.
A grass airstrip is fine if you want to land a small plane. But if you want a 747 to land, you need to clear a lot of space and build a tarmac airstrip. God has some 747’s that are flying around that He wants to land and He’s looking for lives to land them in. These big jets carry many of the things that the church is looking for to be released, but unfortunately most people simply have a grass airstrip.
Which brings me to ‘The Vow Of The Nazirite’. In the Old Testament, God set aside a way that those who wanted to be devoted to Him, could be. Naturally the zealots looked at this as a way of them showing everyone else that they were the best Jews. But God’s point in establishing the Nazirite Vow wasn’t to encourage ellitism – rather it was to provide a way for those who had a genuine heart and desire to be set apart for God for His purposes.
Numbers 6:1-8 contains the description of what the Nazirite vow entailed.
This passage gives us 3 things:
* no alcohol,
* long hair,
* no dead bodies.
Now this doesn’t mean that we succeed if we have long-haired teetotallers who don’t hang around funeral homes! That’s not the point. For us today – it’s symbolic – and makes sense as we start to unpack it.
Before I start, I’ll mention this – as I’ve prayed and studied… these are the conclusions I’ve come to. Others may get other things out of this passage – I’m not claiming this to be the definitive work on the subject.
So what does this kind of heart toward God look like in our day?
1) No alcohol – ABSTAINING FROM WORLDLY PLEASURES
For the people of the Old Testament, alcohol was a pleasure that they engaged in when they came to ‘chill out’. They didn’t have TV & Playstations! If we’re going to translate this first one into our context today – I think it’s about more than alcohol. I believe it’s actively looking to abstain from worldly pleasures so that we can more actively seek God.
Now get me right – I’m not talking about a bunch of self-righteous people who who look with disdain upon anyone else who isn’t doing what they’re doing. It’s about, through love, looking for ways that we can accommodate more of God in our lives.
The word ‘Nazirite’ comes from the Hebrew word Nazir – which means to keep something for special. All of us I’m sure have stuff that we ‘keep for special’.
In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. – 2 Timothy 2:20-21 (NIV)
We get to choose (to a certain extent) how God uses our lives. If we set our lives apart – nazir – build a big landing strip on our lives – He can use us for bigger purposes. But if we fill our lives up with common, everyday busyness… it becomes harder for God to use us for His purposes. There are times and seasons in your life where you may want to forgo some of the usual worldly things that you enjoy in order that you can make more room in your life for God to move. Sometimes people make a decision that a certain thing is actually distracting them from going further with God – so they make a decision that they’re going to abstain for it from here on out.
2) Long Hair – STANDING OUT / BEING INCONVENIENCED
People who were making a Nazirite vow physically stood out from others (especially the men). In order to increase your capacity to become an ‘airstrip for God’, He’s going to make you do stuff that will make you stand out! It may be shutting down gossip in the workplace, sharing your testimony or having to pray for healing for someone. The increase in your heart will come as you obediently follow God’s direction – not just in your times of prayer or when you’re around Christians – but at all times!
Not only that, but long hair can be a real inconvenience! I know, because I had it for a while! And in the same way, when we’re looking for God to increase our capacity for more of Him – get prepared to be inconvenienced! If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got. How many times have you committed to fast, only to be invited out for an all expenses paid lunch?! The Holy Spirit will often nudge us to do things that are a great inconvenience to us. But obeying Him is how we grow!
3) Avoiding Dead Bodies – LEAVING GRIEF/PAIN BEHIND
This is proof that we’re not supposed to take this literally – how could we raise people from the dead if we’re not allowed to touch dead bodies! One way that we can bring this forward into our time is by NOT CONTINUALLY WEEPING OVER THINGS THAT HAVE BEEN LOST.
All of us have experienced loss & pain. But the one who wants to devote their life to God says to Him – ‘I’m going to serve you in my pain. I’m not going to stop serving you to deal with it’. I always find it amazing how some people have huge amounts of pain and keep serving God. Others have a little, and they stop their whole lives.
If you’re wanting to see the power of God come into your life – be a person who puts God first in spite of your pain.
VOW OF THE NAZIRITE IS ABOUT THROUGH LOVE, CREATING SPACE IN YOUR LIFE SO THAT GOD’S POWER AND PRESENCE CAN MOVE THROUGH YOU MORE.