- Sermon Notes
Being Wholly Devoted
Numbers 6:1-8, 22-26
The book of Numbers is called, “In the Wilderness” in the Hebrew bible. It was later called Numbers when it was translated into Greek and Latin. It was given the name ‘Numbers’ because the nation of Israel was numbered, or a census taken, twice in the book; once in the second year of their journey ‘in the wilderness’ and then almost 40 years later as they were about to enter into the land God had promised.
The Hebrew Bible name “In the Wilderness” is a good name in the sense that most of the book describes events that took place as Israel was in the wilderness those 40 years. There are many lessons for us in this book. They struggled in their faith and they grumbled against God. Paul says, “These things happened as an example. They were written for our instruction, that we would not falter as many of them did.
In other words, God will use this book to strengthen your faith!
In Numbers 6, God gives instructions for a man or woman who wishes to make a special vow of dedication to the Lord. It’s called the Nazarite vow, not to be confused with someone from Nazareth. The Hebrew word nazir means to be consecrated or separated for the Lord.
Someone taking the Nazarite vow could do so for either a period of time, such as 30 days, or could become a Nazarite for life. The prophet Samuel is an example in the Old Testament and John the Baptist is an example in the New Testament.God made a way for a person, whether man or woman, to choose the kind of relationship he or she wants with God. That’s true for you and me as well. James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” God has made a way for us in Christ Jesus to have a relationship with God, but we must choose.What kind of relationship with God do you want?
The Nazarite vow was taken as a way for anyone who so chose to have a relationship of being wholly devoted to God. These are the principles that guide us into being wholly devoted to God.
I. “Come Away My Beloved”
- That phrase comes from the Song of Solomon, but it beautifully captures the heart of what God is saying in Numbers 6.
- The Nazarite vow was a special vow taken to become wholly dedicated to the Lord.As they would draw near to God, they would also ‘come away’ from other things.
A.Keep God in the center of your heart
- The Nazarite vow included separating from wine and strong drink, as well as vinegar, grape juice or even fresh or dried grapes.
- The reason for this is not given; however, many commentators believe that the fruit of the vine represented the best the earth had to offer.
- What was there to drink in Israel in those days? There was water and there was wine. Milk would not last very long and neither would grape juice.
- Therefore, to separate from the fruit of the vine was to come away from the extravagance of the world.The idea was that for a period of time, the person would be wholly devoted to God and would set aside the pleasures of the world so he would not be distracted by them.
- It’s like fasting; separating yourself from things for a time to be wholly devoted to God, to seek His heart and to learn to pray.
Illus – There was a time when I needed God to answer a prayer, so I did what I called a Daniel fast; fasting all unhealthy things while I prayed and waited on God to answer.
- Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus…
- Ephesians 5:18, Do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,
- What God is addressing is the importance of keeping God in the highest place; of remembering your first love.
Illus – Things can change over time; marriage can become routine; the job that at first was exciting and new can become mundane. Remember your first love, God says, and do the things you did at the first.
- If you have forgotten how wonderful things were at the first in your relationship to the Lord, one thing is for certain, God most certainly has not forgotten.
Jeremiah 2:2, Thus says the Lord, “I remember concerning you the devotion of your youth, the love of your betrothals, your following after Me in the wilderness, through a land not sown.”
B. Don’t keep your heart for God a secret
- Those keeping the Nazarite vow were to let their hair grow during the entire time of their vow.
- This would be evidence of a person’s decision to be devoted to the Lord.
- Jesus did speak about not trying to appear religious before others.But that isn’t a heart devoted to God, it’s the heart of the person devoted to himself but wanting to appear righteous.
Matthew 6:1, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.”
- Jesus also spoke of letting your light shine before men…
Matthew 5:16, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
- Today, wearing your hair long would not indicate where your heart was with God.In fact, back in the sixties people wore their hair long to say that they were anti-establishment; they were counterculture.
Illus – One of the jokes that was popular in the sixties was about a young man who got his permit and asked his father if he could get his driver’s license. “I’ll tell you what,” the father said, “if you bring your grades up and get your hair cut, you can get your driver’s license.” “I don’t think I should have to get my haircut, dad,” the young man said, “Jesus had long hair. And of Jesus had long hair I ought to be able to have long hair, too.”…
- By the way, the idea that Jesus had long hair is not accurate. Only those taking the Nazarite vow had long hair and at the end of the time of the vow the hair would be shaved off in a ceremony and offered to God, placed in the fire as a peace offering.
- The point here is that we should not only live our lives so that people see our heart for God, we should be unashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. How else will they know?
Romans 10:14, How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?
Illus – Jordi was raised in a home where they didn’t believe in God, but her older sister came to faith in Christ and kept insisting that Jordi come to church with her.Finally, she went to church just to get her sister off her back… And there she saw complete devotion and it moved her.
C. Separate from things that are dead
- The final restriction of the Nazarite was to be separated from things that were dead.
- In that day it meant staying away from dead bodies.It’s interesting, that these were the same requirements placed on the high priest; he was not to touch dead things because he was separated unto God.
App- There are a lot of things that are either dead or lead to death in this life, and to be wholly dedicated unto the Lord means to pursue those things which bring life.
1 Timothy 6:11-12, Flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith.
- If a Nazarite did touch a dead body, even unintentionally, he was to shave his head and begin again. He could have a fresh start. I love the heart of the Lord.
Revelation 21:5, He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write this down, for these words are faithful and true.”
II.God’s Heart is to Bless
- In the last section in chapter 6, the Lord wanted His blessings to be spoken over his people.
- The Nazarite vow was about a person’s heart for God; this blessing is about God’s heart for Israel and for you.
A.The Lord bless you and keep you
- The word ‘you’ here is singular.In other words, God is speaking to you individually.He knows you by name.He is intimately acquainted with all your ways.
- He knows where you camp.Where do you live in proximity to God’s presence?
Illus – Some people have a special place to sit in church.Where you sit is not what matters; what matters is whether you are near to him in your heart.
- God wanted it known that His heart was to bless the people and He didn’t want His heart misrepresented.
- Some people see God as always angry and that He’s looking for ways to make life difficult for them because that’s what they deserve.
- But God does not want to be misrepresented.His heart is clearly laid out word for word exactly as He desired it.
Illus – There was a time when Moses misrepresented God and it was a serious matter.The people were thirsty and grumbled before Moses, so Moses and Aaron went before the Lord who said to them…
Numbers 20:8, “Take the rod; and you and your brother Aaron assemble the congregation and speak to the rock before their eyes, that it may yield its water. You shall thus bring forth water for them out of the rock and let the congregation and their beasts drink.”
- The problem was that Moses then stood before all the people and said, “Listen up, you rebels; shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” Moses then took the rod and struck the rock twice!
- But God wasn’t angry with them, God wanted to bless them with water and to give them a picture that Christ would be the living water.And once He was smitten, He would never need to be smitten again.
1 Corinthians 10:4, and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and that rock was Christ.
- We are ambassadors for Christ, and we must represent that His heart is to reconcile all men to Himself.
2 Corinthians 5:19-20, God has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you, therefore, on behalf of Christ, to be reconciled to God.So here in Numbers 6, God said to say these words, “The Lord bless you and keep you.”
- It’s interesting that these are together – bless and keep. The Talmud, ancient rabbinical writings, interpret this verse by saying, “Why do we ask God first to bless us and then to keep us? Because if He does give us abundant blessings, we need to be protected from the evil results such abundance and prosperity may bring.”
- He keeps you by being with you. He never said you would be kept from trouble or from fire, but He did say, “If you walk through the fire I will be there.”
B. His face shine on you
- Notice these words are not a prayer.Rather, these are a declaration of God’s heart and His intention upon His people.
- God is saying, My heart will shine upon and be gracious to you, the problem is that many people can’t see that God already has and continues to shine His face through Jesus Christ and pours out grace beyond measure!
2 Corinthians 4:6, For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
C.The Lord lift up His countenance
- This means that the Lord, in essence, smiles upon you. His favor is upon you. We see that in other places in scripture as well.
Zephaniah 3:17, The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.
- This famous blessing in Numbers 6 also says… “And give you peace.” When you know that His favor is upon you and that God is for you, that’s when your heart is at peace.
- If you are at peace with God, you can be at peace with yourself and with your life. But if you are not at peace with God, then you’re not going to be at peace with anything.
- This is a picture of the Holy Spirit who is given by God to be the comforter; the counselor…
- The fruit of the Holy Spirit is peace. Is your heart troubled today? God’s blessing over you is peace.
John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you… Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
Isaiah 26:3, You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.
Numbers 6:1-8 NASB
Numbers 6:22-26 NASB