Watch as we explore the book of Numbers for even more emerging God-patterns, patterns that will show themselves mightily in the New Testament. One of the most interesting patterns, I believe, is that of the Nazarite. When I say Nazarite, do not confuse that with Nazarene or Nazareth, Yeshua’s home.
A Nazarite is a NON-Levite and NON-priest who has been set-apart for service to God by means of a vow, and thus has an elevated holy status as compared to the other Israelites. In modern day terms while a Levite priest is clergy, a Nazarite is a layman.
Put another way, taking the vow of a Nazarite is a way for a person who is not a natural member of the priestly tribe of Levi to be DECLARED holy and fit for service to God, generally on par with a priest.
The similarity between a priest and a Nazarite becomes obvious when we study the rituals prescribed for a Nazarite: they are almost identical with those of a priest.
We’ll look at these rituals, which contain the essence of the spiritual meaning of its purpose, at the appropriate point in our study of Numbers; but for now just understand that a priest is a priest by birth. He has a birthright to be a priest because he’s born into the proper tribe.
A Nazarite on the other hand is an ordinary Israelite; he is a person who has NO right to be a priest because he wasn’t born into the right tribe. Yet God has made a provision for those who are non-Levites but still want to serve Him, to be able to do so.
By faith and trust in God, and by God’s declaration, this person (this Nazarite) who is foreign to the priesthood is allowed to take on a special holiness virtually equal to a priest; again, the only difference is that the Nazarite cannot perform Sanctuary duties.
This is a model of how a gentile, who is a foreigner to Israel, can if he so desires be brought by the declaration of God into the service of God UNDER THE COVENANTS OF ISRAEL. In other words, the Nazarite is a model and pattern of how a gentile can become a Believer and worship the God of Israel.
Physically speaking a Jew and a gentile are different; a Jew has an advantage in that he is born into the covenants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but a gentile is not.Physically a priest and a Nazarite are different (a priest is of the tribe of Levi, a Nazarite is not).
Spiritually a Jew and a gentile who trust God are made equal in status before the Lord. Spiritually a priest and Nazarite are made equal in status before the Lord. They each merely have different roles. The one was BORN into his role while the other had to be grafted in to attain his, so to speak. But in both cases, they are under the same covenants.
The point here is that we are going to see these patterns and principles appear in the New Testament. Paul speaks on them and uses the incidents recorded in Numbers, especially, to make his point that Yeshua fulfilled the patterns and principles of the Torah.
But…and this is so essential to grasp in these and the days just ahead of us…Paul also makes the point that if the already redeemed Israelites rebelled and got punished for it in ancient times (as told of in the book of Numbers), why would a Believer redeemed by the blood of Yeshua think he could be rebellious and escape God’s harsh hand of discipline?
I would like to close this preparation for a study of B’midbar, Numbers, with the words of Gordon Wenham, a wonderful Christian scholar who teaches in Gloucester College of Higher Education in England.
And he says this about the importance of understanding and accepting the value of Biblical ritual for the modern Christian:
“Similarly, the sacrificial offerings of animals, flour, oil and wine prescribed in Numbers are no longer valid expressions of Christian worship because they point beyond themselves to the one atoning sacrifice of Christ which has made them obsolete. Yet, Christians are still reminded: “…let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of the lips that acknowledged His Name. Do not neglect to DO good, and to SHARE what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God”.
The principle of whole-hearted dedication to the worship of God LINKS the Old and New Testaments, even if our mode of devotion has altered. Similarly, if the tithe remains a norm for Christian giving, it may be noted that some Believers evidently gave much more.
If much of the Biblical legislations cannot be applied today, its thoroughness and attention to detail should challenge the modern church to ask whether our more casual attitudes may not be a cloak for indifference”.
Gordon Wenham is certainly not calling to start sacrificial procedures anew. But it is a reminder to us that so many of the Biblical rituals that take their form in the Biblical Feasts, for instance, while in no way needed for Atonement or Salvation are indeed needed to TEACH and to REMIND. To teach and remind us of God’s principles, of His laws and commands, of how it is better to live our lives in rhythm with the Universe He created, rather than out of tune.
The Book of Numbers is historic, worshipful, instructive, and at times poetic. Be now prepared to drink in and grasp the awesome revelations that will provide so many connecting links to the work of Yeshua HaMashiach, the saving attribute or person of the Lord God.