Nazirites

Nazirite 2

Q. Nazirites don’t eat or drink anything from the grapevine; others can’t observe that till they eat. They don’t cut their hair, which people can see. They don’t go near a dead body. If someone suddenly dies in their presence, they become defiled and the previous days of dedication do not count. But that’s not their fault! How are we to apply the Nazirite vow today?

A. The law of the Nazirite is given in Numbers 6. The purpose is dedication (Num 6:2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12 twice, 13, 18, 19, 21 – twelve times altogether). There are seven aspects to being a Nazirite:

1. For Israelites (v2);
2. Voluntary – if (v2) – this is not a commandment;
3. Either man or woman (v2);
4. Abstain from anything that comes from the grapevine (v3-4);
5. Must not cut their hair (v5);
6. Must not go near a dead body (v6-7);
7. For a period of time (v13).

1-3 and 7 are general conditions, while 4-6 are negative, things they should refrain from. There are no positive stipulations, except cleansing rituals if they become defiled, and offerings when the period is over. There were life-long Nazirites e.g. Samson (Judges 13:5, 7; 16:17), but they were exceptions, not the rule.

Now, are we supposed to take that vow today, and if yes, how? My opinion is no. Although it is very commendable to vow your dedication to God, condition 1 specifies it to be for Israelites. The type of dedication required for Christians is Rom 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship, not a Nazirite vow.

Secondly, nowadays there is no way for anyone to offer the sacrifices for cleansing or completion. They are all done away with in Christ. So while we can have the spirit of the vow by our dedication, the letter of the law had been set aside. We are free from the law. We don’t need to find current equivalents to conditions 4-6 to replace them. Hope this helps.

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