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Friday, August 17, 2012

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Have you ever known people who seem especially spiritual? Such personalities do exist. Lest they, and you, think this gives them an unfair advantage in the Christian life, remember that no predisposition, good or evil, makes anyone more or less acceptable to God. The law of the Nazarite illustrates this principle. If any Israelite felt the desire to give himself more deeply to God than the common person, he could do so. However, this cost him something. The Nazarite vow that a person took was a public commitment to live a life of self-denial.

 

For instance, a Nazarite had to deny himself the pleasure of drink in all its forms.  He had to avoid the use of any form of the grape, “fresh or dried.”  The Nazarite vow also set a person apart socially.  No happy dinners or banquets.  And if a close relative, even a mother, were to die, the Nazarite could not go near the body.  To be a Nazarite could be a lonely life.

 

Does this seem harsh?  Today governments restrict the activities of those who have unacceptable behavior by placing them in prison and usually they are not allowed to attend the funerals of loved ones. This seems harsh on the part of government, but it is the reality of a life chosen by the lawbreaker.  So restrictions such as the ones we see in Scripture are not so unusual.  

 

The restriction of activities of those who had taken the Nazarite vow and who wished to have a deeper spiritual experience is not to be seen as harsh on the part of God.  If we wish to have a deeper spiritual experience, we also need to be careful about what we eat and drink and carefully select our activities in order to have a deeper spiritual experience.

 

Mark Sheffield

Southern Adventist University