What do skin disease, wronging another, and jealous husbands all have in common? They are all things that if not properly addressed can grow and spread and cause hurts that cannot be healed.
Take the requirement of restitution. We all grew up with the understanding that if you take something without permission you have to return it. But, we also know, that is insufficient. The item is returned or the cost of it is provided but there is still pain and hardship. Paying to fix someone’s car you wrecked is required but insufficient. They have to get estimates, be without a vehicle, etc. The Hebrews were given the +20% rule. Fix the car + 20% more of the cost. Buy the new sweater that you borrowed and got a hole in, plus a new scarf. Because, if you don’t, there is still resentment. The person wronged doesn’t feel whole. The relationship suffers, the parties suffer, the hurt spreads.
Jealousy. If a spouse believes the other is unfaithful, no level of discussion alone is going to bridge that gap. If one party thinks the other capable of lying and deceit, they aren’t simply going to believe reassurances. And, in a relationship between a man and women, the physically stronger man can cause far more than mental anguish. Instead, the matter is taken out of the hands of the husband and given to God and the priests.
Immediately after the conditions to deal with these areas of division, the Nazirite vow is discussed. In the Nazirite vow, certain things were set aside as they dedicated themselves to the Lord. Grapes, wine, haircuts. Clearly these are not significant material things that cause someone to sin, but they are symbolic, while still being tangible and visible.
Think about it this way. Have you ever been frozen in fear? It may have been on a ladder or the high-dive at the swimming pool. It may have been standing on a ledge of a ropes-course. You know it is unrational. You know you just need to move forward, but your body won’t take that step. You grasp ahold of something, anything. Don’t misunderstand. I don’t believe there is any such thing as a “leap of faith” with God. God never expects us to just “hope” He is there. He gives us so many assurances. He lights our path. He carries our load. But we can still get stuck in fear. When we do, the answer isn’t to force ourselves to move forward, to make the “leap”. Instead, it is to the answer is to first begin to let go. When a person took the Nazirite vow, they let go of little things, wine, personal grooming. In doing so they trusted in God. By releasing their white knuckle grasp on something insignificant, they opened their hand for God to take them by the hand. By dedicating themselves to Him for a time they entered a period of little releases while standing firmly on His foundation.
The whole Nazirite thing can seem silly to our modern ways of thinking, but it actually is a great lesson. It is like fasting. Denying yourself food for a period doesn’t make you stronger. Physically, it would make you weaker. But letting go of eating solid food for a 24 hour period of time as a vow of dedication to God for that period pays huge dividends. By letting go of little things, you participate in the vow. By honoring your separation, you honor your dedication to God and honor God Himself. You are not going to starve in 24 hours. This is truly insignificant physically, but spiritually it opens your hand to allow God to place it on the next rung of the ladder.
If you don’t believe you are frozen in place, let me ask you a question that challenge me this week. What can you name in your life that you completely and fully rely upon God to provide? No contingency plan. No backup strategy. Start by naming one material, significant thing. If you can name one, great, what else? As Christians, shouldn’t we all be fully trusting and relying on God for, if not all, the vast majority of the important things in our lives? But we grasp ahold and try to hold onto little things like control and self-sufficiency while mentally understanding that both of those are really just illusions. Maybe it is time to renew a vow of dedication.
1-4: Send away from the camp all who had a defiling skin disease
5-10: Make full restitution for wrong
11-31: Take wife who is suspected of unfaithfulness to the priest
2 Million people, while they followed God, they also had issues and grievances that could have torn them apart. God provided a fair way to address these issues
“Justice” was not put in the hands of a jealous husband. The test was put to God through the priest.
A vow of dedication and separation – a full and deep devotion. Samson, JTB
prayer and fasting